SocialThing launches — another social aggregator, and not my favorite one

socialthing031008.pngSocialThing is another site that lets you aggregate information from social sites, so that you can track your friends. It pulls you and your friends’ activities from eleven other social sites, including Twitter, Flickr, Last.FM and Facebook.

But is SocialThing’s way of summing up all of these sites better than using each one alone?

To get started, you create an account, add your login credentials from the other sites you use. Then you get a running stream of updates from your friends who use those sites, within SocialThing. It’s currently in private beta but you can sign up on its homepage.

There’s certainly a demand for this type of service among people who use a lot of different social web sites — and FriendFeed seems to be getting the most buzz so far among early adopters in Silicon Valley. But there many competitors, including Spokeo and Plaxo‘s Pulse (our coverage).

To be fair, SocialThing is a little different, in a couple of ways. It automatically figures out who your friends are, by identifying them on other services, such as who your friends are on Facebook. Once you give SocialThing your Facebook login credentials, for example, you’ll see all the status updates and uploaded photos from all of your Facebook friends.

So, SocialThing is basically a dashboard for managing other services. You can, for example, reply to a Twitter message within SocialThing, and your reply will be broadcast back to Twitter as a Twitter message.

Mark Hendrickson at Techcrunch thinks that Friendfeed should “watch out,” but this FriendFeed user isn’t so sure. These other bloggers who use FriendFeed seem to feel the same way.

FriendFeed makes a point of building conversation within its own site — not within other sites. It offers a way to comment on items, and since many of the 28 sites it connects to, like Twitter, don’t offer a message board feature, the full conversation is only possible on FriendFeed.

I’m not sure SocialThing’s conversation-less social dashboard is something most people really need. If all you want is to use these other sites, why not just have a few windows open, displaying the sites themselves? Just have one window open for Twitter, one for Facebook and one for YouTube, or whatever. After all, FriendFeed itself says its average users are only on an average of 3.5 different sites (our coverage).

stscrn031008.pngAlso, SocialThing is showing me a lot of redundant Twitter-Facebook messages, because many Twitter users use the Twitter Facebook application to display Twitter messages within Facebook’s status updates (see screenshot).

And actually, I think the fact that FriendFeed forces me to manually invite friends is a good thing, because it helps me make sure I’m only watching the feeds of people I care about. This means I only get into conversations with this small group of friends. If I add together all my friends on Twitter, Facebook and everywhere else, the number becomes completely unmanageable. I’m not saying I’m popular, I’m saying this is a natural issue for anyone who uses a bunch of social web services on a regular basis. Facebook itself solves the problem of feed overload by fine-tuning its internal news feed to only show you your friends Facebook activities, so you only see the most interesting things.

SocialThing still needs fine-tuning. Right now it’s social overload, without a conversation.

The Boulder, Colo.-based company has received seed funding from the Techstars startup incubator program.


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