Microsoft is taking the wraps off "So.cl," a research project on December 15. The So.cl (pronounced "social") currently in limited, invitation-only form FUSE Labs team is a new initiative built on Bing search programming interfaces and is focused on delivering a new learning tool for specific user group: students and academics who are using social media to enhance their learning experiences.
According to Microsoft, "it's not meant to be a Facebook clone/killer. It's not a Twitter rip-off. And, it's not a Tumblr or Google+ or Google Currents clone/competitor. It's not a new search engine. It's not something that Microsoft expects to roll into/integrate with SharePoint, OneNote or Exchange/Outlook."
According to Lili Cheng, General Manager of FUSE (Future Social Experiences) Labs, "So.cl is a mash-up of social-networking and search that is designed to get the learning communities to start thinking about how to use collaboration technologies in new ways."
She explains that So.cl is not aimed at becoming the next Facebook, but that it should help them gain a new perspective on how search and social networking can be combined.
"We expect students to continue using products such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other existing social networks, as well as Bing, Google and other search tools," So.cl's FAQ reads.
"We hope to encourage students to reimagine how our everyday communication and learning tools can be improved, by researching, learning and sharing in their everyday lives."
The service allows participants to build posts with photos, video, text and other elements and share them. It also lets participants find others with similar interests and build communities around them. At some point, Microsoft might allow users to create their own social tools built around So.cl, customized for their own groups and communities.
They will be able to find more students that share similar interests and who are interested in building communities around specific educational goals. They would also be able to create their own social tools and customize them for their specific community.
Some of the main features include:
- So.cl combines social networking and search, to help people find and share interesting web pages in the way students do when they work together.
- So.cl helps you create rich posts, by assembling montages of visual web content.
- To encourage interaction and collaboration, So.cl provides rich media sharing, and real time sharing of videos via "video parties."
Here are couple of So.cl user interface screens:
Here is the video demonstrating Microsoft So.cl (Socl):