Plaxo as Network
Online address book service Plaxo has added social network-style features to its offering. The service was last updated in June, when Calendering, LinkedIn and Google integration were added to the service.
The new feature sees the release of its Plaxo Pulse feature, which offers the ability to ‘connect’ with people in your address book and view their activities on any online service which offers an RSS feed. Users can add feeds from services such as their blog, their flickr photographs, their YouTube favourites and del.icio.us bookmarks. The Pulse feature aggregates the content of these feeds so that users can view the online activities of all of their connected friends.
The new service also offers three gradations of contact intimacy - business contacts, friends and family - allowing users to choose which feeds to share with which groups. The service has also begun to integrate OpenID, offering it as an alternative for logging on to the system.
Other popular social networks, such as Facebook, offer what has been described as a ‘walled garden’ for users’ content. You need to be a member of that network in order to view any content stored on it. Also users cannot readily export data - friends information or content they have added - to another network. Facebook assumes ownership of any such content as part of its Terms and Conditions of membership. Plaxo, on the other hand, simply aggregates content from other open systems.
Todd Masonis, Founder and VP of Products at Plaxo said: “It’s all about keeping you more richly connected to the people you actually know, by transforming your address book into a true social network for your real personal and professional relationships.”
The company is late to the social networking space, but with an established user base of over 15mn using the service to maintain an online address book, and the relatively pain-free manner of transforming address book contacts into social network ‘friends’, this may not be such a barrier to success as it might be for other new entrants to the field.
However, Plaxo sceptics, who have vivid memories of continual, unrequested email messages urging them to update their information, will not be amused by one aspect of the Pulse feature. Each request from a contact to join their Pulse network generates an automatic email message.