In an inspired blog post, Jason Kottke said that social networks aren't helping us organize; since all of them require different credentials to log in, they're just adding to the noise. He just might be up to something there. It's getting harder and harder to remember all those logins, passwords, and most importantly to remember which of your friends are using what network.
Social network aggregators is a relatively new breed of applications which try to consolidate all your various social networking profiles into one, with varying success. Let's check out 20 biggest competitors in this field.
Profilactic has very recently been upgraded to version 2, which brought a decent amount of new features - a new look, support for Pownce, LinkedIn, Shelfari, and the ability to add more than one account for the same site. At its core, Profilactic still does the same two things: it displays your personal lifestream, which consists of your social networking activity, and a group lifestream from your friends. What it does, it does well; however, we'd still like to see more options to interact with the items in your streams. There's also the option to create clippings - bits and pieces of information from the web; but this option is not really connected to the rest of the features on the site.
Minggl is a browser toolbar that works with Firefox, IE and Flock and promises to â€œput you in control of your social web universeâ€. Unfortunately, you'll have a hard time testing this claim unless you have an invitation code, since Minggl is currently in invitation-only phase. The idea behind Minggl is to â€œattachâ€ social networking profiles to Minggl and then control them all from one place. You can see an overview of the main features in this video tutorial.
Another application that's based on the concept of group lifestreaming, iStalkr perhaps chooses the most logical route of all the applications on this list. It enables you to follow your own and your friends' social networking activities on a timeline, and to act on it directly from iStalkr's interface. Working with iStalkr, we've noticed that the updates aren't coming that fast; but we're not sure if this is due to the limitations of various APIs involved or iStalkr itself.
Correlate.us doesn't really give you the ability to do much with your social networks, it merely gives you a nice overview of your activities on them. While the application is quite simple, it's done well, and we think that it could be a good basis for a bigger project.
Instead of aggregating social networking information, Explode.us lets you search all the social networks with one form. For each found user you can see tags, friends, comments, as well as the latest content this user posted. Explode.us supports, among others, LiveJournal, Flickr, Twitter, Jaiku and 43Things.
Spokeo is a social network tracker which enables you to track what your friends are doing on various social networks from Spokeo's interface. It aims to be the simplest of the aggregators, offering a kind of â€œRSS reader for social networksâ€.
Create a profile with your personal information, clippings from the web and your personal social networking lifestream. Profilefly works as a widget or as a Facebook application, and it supports a huge number of social networks, including MySpace, Digg, Hi5, Facebook, Last.FM, Second Life and many others. The actual profile is a bit bland, with the lifestream - which should be the center of such an application - offering very limited options; for example, time stamps and any kind of interactivity is lacking.
PeopleAggregator aims to become a social identity hub. It works through a desktop software application which currently runs only on Linux, and although we applaud its reliance on OpenID and open standards in general, the decision to start a service that aims to connect social networking users and their profiles, on a Linux platform, seems like a suicide. The official FAQ which is at the moment a bunch of spam links doesn't help. Look at the presentation of the service in HTML form here.
SocialURL helps you organize your online identity and get back in touch with all of your friends and classmates. It's a unified profile with support for photo galleries and videos, as well as a central portal with links pointing out to all your other social network profiles. It's all spiced up with lots of additional features, like on-site email, reminders and bookmarks.
We've already said quite a lot about Social Stream considering that it's not even in beta stage yet - all that's available at this point is a vidcast presentation of what Social Stream can do. However, the huge amount of attention that Social Stream got is a clear indicator that some pieces of the puzzle are still missing in the social network aggregator space.
Tabber is a personal profile page, which displays some information about you together with your latest activity on Digg, del.icio.us, your blog, Twitter, or any RSS feed. It's very similar in concept to ProfileFly, and just like it, it lacks any possibility to interact with your lifestream.
Naymz is another personal profile site, which goes a step further than services like Tabber or ProfileFly by giving you the possibility to actively monitor certain sites for mention of your name. Naymz also actively promotes your profile by trying to make it more visible on Google.
In contrast to the majority of the other services described here, 8hands is a desktop application which currently works on Windows XP and Vista. It allows you to access your profiles on social networks (currently supported are Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and many more) from a single IM-like interface. The idea is to have an overview of what's happening on your social networks, and send instant messages to other users. 8hands software is currently in alpha (I guess we're lucky alpha is the first letter of Greek alphabet, otherwise we'd have even more unstable software dubbed with a name that signifies even earlier stages of development), so expect some instability.
Second Brain takes a radically different approach to aggregation than other apps on this list. You organize your data - this includes data from your social network profiles, like Flickr photos or YouTube videos - into collections. A collection is basically a bunch of links, photos, or other bits and pieces of data thrown onto a dashboard; you can create your own collections or explore what others have collected. While the concept seems powerful, I've found myself trying to find something to do with it all. In any case, Second Brain is currently in invite-only beta stage and there will probably be some changes in the service until it goes public.
UpScoop lets you upload the contacts from your address book (Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail and AOL are supported) and it lets you discover which of your friends are active on social networks like Hi5, MySpace and others. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing UpScoop didn't work with my perfectly valid Gmail address, so I couldn't properly test it out. Hopefully, it's just a temporary glitch.
ProfileOMat advertises itself as the last profile we'll ever need - if only things were that simple! ProfileOMat doesn't really aggregate your social networking profiles; it merely creates a profile from which you can reach all of your other profiles on social network. It does have a couple of nifty features, for example, you can set up your geographical location with the help of Google Maps.
MyLifeBrand tries to go a step further by really integrating various social network sites within a MyLifeBrand frame. While this approach brings a far more streamlined experience, it's unlikely that social network users will want to open their favorite website within some other website; also, there's always the possibility of unexpected errors with this approach. At this time MyLifeBrand is in invite-only beta, so if you don't have an invitation code, you won't be able to try it out.
Amongst the rounded corners and reflections that have become the usual visual identity for Web 2.0 ProfileLinker stands out by looking very Web 1.0-ish. After registration, you can add your various social network profiles and your contacts, and all this activity will be shown on your ProfileLinker profile. The look and feel of the interface leaves a lot to be desired; for one thing, I'd like to be able to remove random information about ProfileLinker's history that shows up on my profile; in general, the options for personalization are quite limited.
Snag takes a no-nonsense approach: no registration required; just enter some of your social network credentials (Facebook, MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and LinkedIn are supported) and you get a group lifestream of your activity on these networks. The application needs much polishing, though; for example, entering the wrong credentials won't result in an error; instead, your lifestream will consist of login errors retrieved from that particular network. At this point, Snag looks more like proof-of-concept than a full-fledged app.
Besides aggregating your social network profiles, Socialnetwork.in spices things up with ratings. Perhaps I'm just unlucky, but testing the service resulted in numerous errors which pretty much prevented me to do any serious analysis. (via)