Designers of a new social-networking pilot that combines many Facebook and Twitter features with the capabilities of a Web search engine have told MIT’s Technology Review that the project’s design is based on how students use social networks and search engines for class research.
In other words, the creators of Microsoft’s So.cl, which is being tested on students at the University of Washington in Seattle, Syracuse University, and New York University, have no aim to take over the social networking world in the next 10 years, as Facebook has done over the last eight.
But if you remember Aaron Sorkin’s “The Social Network”—and dismiss Mark Zuckerberg’s claim that the film “is fiction”—you’ll recall Facebook’s original pull to Harvard students was that—unlike MySpace and other networks of the time—the site was only for Harvard students.
Of course, coming at it from an educational vantage point, it’s one thing to design something functional, and another entirely to convince students to use it.
To be fair, Lili Cheng, the Microsoft researcher leading the project’s development, tells Technology Review So.cl isn’t necessarily oriented to formal education.
A version of this article appeared in the February 08, 2012 edition of Digital Directions as Is Microsoft So.cl the Start of Something Big?