Tag Archives: google

“Review: Xobni And The Pursuit of (E-mail) Happiness”

Today’s post was written by Contributing Writer Marie Williams.

Last November, we heard rumblings of a possible game change from both Google and Yahoo that would marry social networking and e-mail into “Inbox 2.0.” Since then, whispers of a revolution have gone quiet. And with a Yahoo merger possibly on the horizon, it remains to be seen when–or if–the concept of Inbox 2.0 will ever see the light of day.

In this age of four hundred Facebook friends and the ever-increasingly crowded inbox, how can you sift through the clutter to find your most important peeps? While we wait for the search giants to figure out Web 2.0, content yourself with the impending promise of Xobni Insight.

Xobni–pronounced Zob-nee or “inbox” spelled backwards for you word wizards–is an Outlook application that wants to help you keep up with all your BFFs. After receiving an invite to the closed Beta, socialTNT decided to take Xobni Insight for a test drive. Here’s our review.

Why Xobni rocks:Xobni screenshot

Snapshot to your (Inbox’s) soul

  • Direct from the widget, you have all your friends’ contact information.
  • Like a true social network, Xobni let’s you see a friends list of shared contacts.
  • Quick and easy access to all of your e-mail threads or files you’ve exchanged in the past.
  • Xobni scrapes your Outlook calendar and puts free time into an organized list, allowing you to send your schedule to any of your friends–very cool!
  • To help you get a better idea of when it’s best to contact your friends, Xobni even graphs times during the day when you most frequently exchange e-mails with each person–sweet!
    • Check out this screenshot (right) of Chris’ Xobni profile. He’s typically active on e-mail in the AM, at noon, and in the late afternoon.

Super search capabilities

  • Need to find a contact quickly? Search their name and you get a Xobni profile and a list of relevant e-mails mentioning and/or from that person.
  • Looking for an email about a certain topic or conversation? Xobni gives you instant access to the top Yahoo Web results, as well as any recent emails with that topic.
  • The best part: The e-mail results highlight the exact portion of those e-mails that is relevant to your query.

Plays Well With Others

  • If you are actively using it, Xobni folds out on the right-hand side of your Outlook. This helps you search and navigate your inbox without a lot of distraction.
  • When minimized, Xobni shows contact info or upcoming calendar appointments relevant to the email you’re viewing.

How Xobni could be even better:

Slow Children at Play
  • After downloading Xobni, we noticed other applications seemed to run quite a bit slower…major bummer when you’re trying to streamline your e-mail flow.
  • We uninstalled and re-downloaded and that seemed to help, but Outlook’s still not as nimble as it should be with the Xobni add-on.
Make It Personal
  • In its current state, you can’t store additional information beyond Xobni’s pre-defined categories. Add a personal e-mail or cell number? Nope. Note their birthday with reminder to send a thoughtful card? Uh-uh. Add notes about an offline-convo? Sorry.
  • User definable fields would add significant value to Xobni’s already helpful service.

Data Checks In, But Never Checks Out

  • Data Portability is a hot topic this year. LinkedIn and Outlook both allow export of contact information. Xobni should, too.

With the rise of social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, e-mail may eventually go the way of the DoDo bird. Be on the lookout for socialTNT’s review of LinkedIn’s Outlook toolbar.

Want a chance to check out Xobni Insight for yourself? socialTNT has some Xobni Insight Beta invites and wants to share. Send an email to marie [at] socialTNT.com and tell us why YOU need Xobni to fulfill your pursuit of e-mail happiness.

Already a guru at the networking game? How do you manage your connections? Let us know in the comments below.

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Filed under Beta breakers, Product Review, Social Networking

“3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min: iJustine, iJustine.TV”

“ShareaSale & The Conversation Group Party: Blogworld Expo, iJustine” by Brian SolisIt’s the last Thursday before Christmas. If you aren’t out shopping, join us for another installment of “3sday’s 3Q’s in 3 Min.”

Every Thursday, socialTNT channels the spirit of citizen journalism by putting bloggers, reporters, PR pro’s or anyone with something to say about social media in front of the camera for a short, three minute interview. The videos are meant to encourage dialog between reporters, PR/communications practitioners and marketers on the future of media.

Today, socialTNT is celebrating the shortest day of the year by offering you 3Q’s in One Minute with Social Media Diva, iJustine. That’s right: In one minute, iJustine is going to peer into the videostream of time to tell us what she thinks will be hot in 2008!

For those of you not familiar with the queen of the new Web Celebrity set, iJustine jumped into mainstream with her video about the insane bill she received from AT&T after buying her iPhone. The video made national news and prompted AT&T to reconsider e-bills for their data plans. She also has an amazing blog, Tasty Blog Snack.

Her facebook’s “About Me” simply states: I am the Internet. Since you can catch her on Facebook, MySpace, flickr, twitter, Revver, YouTube, and every other social network, I’m gonna say that could be true. Oh, and when she’s not saving trees from telco giants, iJustine is busy streamcasting her life.

Although not employed by Apple (yet), she SHOULD be the social media/community evangelist for the trendy tech giant. Even though she says Steve Jobs got up and walked out of a trendy Mountain View cafe after seeing her sitting next to him, iJustine claims that Steve Jobs is in love with her–and how could he resist: She has an apple tattoo on her shoulder blade.

In today’s “End of the Year” edition of “3Q’s in 3Min,” iJustine tells us her prediction on the biggest trend in social media in 2008, expresses her love of Twitter, and weighs in on the GOOG vs Facebook battle to dominate your social graph data!

Check it out:

I agree with iJustine, video is gonna be HUGE in ’08; you’ll certainly see more of it on socialTNT in 2008. I also want Wiki’s to gain momentum for Enterprise use.

What do YOU think will be the big trend in 2008?

This is the last “3Q’s in 3Min” for the year, as socialTNT is closing down for the break. We’ve got some great interviews lined up for 2008, so add us to your RSS reader, or sign up for our email, and you’ll never miss a post!

If you liked this post, check out the other video’s in our weekly Thursday series “3Q’s in 3Min.” Also, check out my review of Apple’s current social media PR/marketing strategy.

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[The above photo, “ShareaSale & The Conversation Group Party: Blogworld Expo, iJustine” by Brian Solis, is used under Creative Commons]

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Filed under 3sdays 3qs In 3 Min, Citizen Reporter, Enterprise Public Relations, Future of Media, New Media, Social Media, Social Networking, Video, Video Interview

“The Social Graph is PEEEEOPLE!”

As the dust settles on last week’s latest installment of the social network showdown between MSFT/Facebook and GOOG/Everyone Else, the idea of a universal social graph looks a little clearer. But what is it and how does it affect PR and Marketing folks?

Supposedly computer science peeps have been talking about the social graph as a concept for a while. To be honest, I hadn’t heard anything about it until May when Mark Zuckerberg enlisted application developers to tap into the social graph. Then, in August, LiveJournal creator Brad Fitzpatrick wrote a well formulated, high level discussion of the social graph. It, to me, really addressed several problems and concerns that would lead to the development of–or maybe it was already in the works–Google’s OpenSocial platform, announced last week.

I almost wrote about all things that graph social after attending Dave McClure’s “Graphing Social Patterns” conference, and then again after the Web 2.0 Summit. Both times, I felt like the idea of the social graph was not quite there.

So, before I discuss what it is, I have to disclose that I am neither a computer scientist nor am I a mathematician. I am, however, a PR/Marketing/Tech geek with a Bachelor’s in Social Anthropology. Therefore, this type of stuff gets me pretty excited.

A social graph is loosely defined, according to Brad Fitzpatrick, as “the global mapping of everybody and how they’re related.” You may ask, “Isn’t that the definition of a social network?” My answer: Close, but not entirely.

For me (and Robert Scoble), a social network is a collection or a list of all my “friends” without the context. A social graph, on the other hand, explains why these people are relevant to you. On it’s lowest level, a social graph can be represented like an org-chart or a family tree.

When you add someone as a friend, Facebook asks the question: “How do you know this person?” This helps an outsider see that Audrey is a co-worker at SHIFT; Natalie is my cousin; Bekah is my housemate; Kathryn and I met through a friend while living in Berlin; etc. It’s almost like tagging, but, instead of a webpage or a bookmark, you are tagging people. This relationship information explains the social value that each person has.

Very quickly, social value is an important aspect of our lives. It let’s me know that I need to tuck in my shirt around the CEO, stopping looking at porn when my supervisor walks near my cubicle (JK!), and to respect cops. (Check out this essay on social value from 1908 by economist Joseph Schumpeter or look at Wikipedia.) For a marketer, being able to map that information is priceless.

But wait, there’s more…

When you fill out your profile, you enter in your interests. If you look at my profile, you can see that I like music, travel and photography. In terms of the social graph, I’m tagged (or plotted on the social graph) as someone who has an interest in boxing and chocolate. Paired with my demographics, Facebook now can show me as a married male in San Francisco in the (oh-so-old) 25+ demographic who likes camping. Great info for market research…or targeted ads.

On top of all that you also get… THIS INCREDIBLE JUICER!!!

Just kidding…kind of. The graph can get a little deeper than that. Take Amazon, for example. It’s constantly recommending items to me. I can evaluate these items on a scale of 1-5 or tell it “not interested.” After a while, it starts to know my behavior. All of these are tiny little tags graphing the bigger story: I like electronic music but am totally not interested in trance. You can also see that I’ve sent my grandmother a book on prayer for her birthday. Once again, more tags; more plots on the social graph.

What about digg or del.icio.us and the type of articles I like? How bout when I answer those surveys to get more points to buy caviar on the Facebook App FoodFight? Think about all that information you could mash-up to create highly-targeted marketing strategies or community outreach plans (eg hitting all the female members that live in Chicago and liked Spiderman).

Google and Facebook in the ring?

Once upon a time, the web was a mess. You sat at your computer and clicked around endlessly. One day, a beautiful search engine appeared to index everything on the web. Now users could find content quickly and easily, while advertisers could target people searching for a particular term. Then one day, social networks started appearing and the magic search engine could no longer get that information; all their users were in a wall…

Ok, I’ll spare the fairy tale and get to the point: Facebook keeps Google from accessing that information contained in the social graph.

One of Brad Fitzpatrick’s ideas was that there would be no one social graph, because every site kept the information to themselves. That was true until OpenSocial. Details on OpenSocial are still a little sketchy (to me at least), but it’s probably best described as an open API led by Google that allows cross-platform interoperability and integration (partners include Orkut, MySpace, Bebo, LiveJournal, Plaxo, and others). Basically: Where Google once created a table of content or index of everything on the web, OpenSocial will allow all of your interests, relationships, etc. to be indexed.

Of course, there are already talks of security concerns, but for a marketer (or anthropologist) there is a lot of really cool data out there that can now be harnessed.

What are your thoughts on the social graph? Is it useful or just another catch phrase?

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Filed under Future of Media, Marketing, New Media, New Media Masters., Public Relations 2.0, Social Graph, Social Networking