This is possibly the most lukewarm hot list ever. First of all, I’ll probably never do one again (tired!). Second, nothing on this list is very new or exciting, it’s just stuff I’ve been feeling lately (expired!).
1. Twitteroo: the PC version of Twitterific is just as good and changes the experience of Twitter to pleasant co-presence rather than irritating interruption. I found Twitter unbelievably annoying and frustrating when it consisted of hundreds of irrelevant text messages clogging my inbox. Now it’s just an IM buddy on my sidekick and Twitteroo, and it’s great. Now I just need more Twittering friends, so add me.
2. Utorrent is about a hundred times lighter and less bandwidth-intensive than Azerus. Maybe this is just my imagination, or maybe it has magically coincided with Verizon getting their act together and improving my 164 kbps connection. Recommended.
I get a lot of email from product “evangelists” (hello, Microsoft, I see you extending your tentacles way past campus again!) asking me to look at their various MySpace widgets, video sharing apps, etc. Please note that I am possibly one of the least influential tech bloggers ever, but I guess if Techcrunch, boingboing and Mashable are ignoring your emails and your PR budget is zero, I am worth a ping. Anyway, I usually ignore these emails at best and write them polite but firm rejoinders at worst. But, in the interest of padding my Hot List, I am going to review a few of them, thereby supporting this entire model and ensuring I get hundreds more of these emails in the next month.
3. The first one is Lijit, a personal network search app. This is a “wijit” (arrgh, my bleeding eyes) that’s basically a search box. You configure the search box to include sources you “trust” (like your “blogroll”, one of the worst online slang terms evar, and other content you produce (like del.icio.us bookmarks or flickr photos). The theory behind this is presumably social search, or the idea that an expert would have better filters for a subject than a random person.
I get the idea, but the execution needs work. First, the signup process is a big pain. You enter your blog URL and it supposedly pulls your blogroll from your blog, but in my case, it just spit up My Crime Space, which is a nifty blog about MySpace and crime that I think I del.icio.us’d. Now that blog is all well and good if you’re doing a MySpace focused search, or something, but I can’t even slightly say I “trust” that content or that I vet that content or that I want that content associated with me! Feministing.com, yeah, since I am friends with several of the editors and I trust their editorial viewpoint, but not some random subject blog. Anyway, this all becomes irrelevant because the wijit doesn’t actually manage to extract my blogroll from my blog, since it’s in an oh-so-inaccessible sidebar, so I don’t bother adding any new blogs. Too time consuming!
In the next step, it checks the major social media sites for your username. This is actually a way cool feature I haven’t seen anywhere yet: it automatically found me on del.icio.us, digg (never posted anything), flickr, youtube, and LJ, and didn’t find me on LinkedIn or MySpace since I don’t use the same name for those sites. This is starting to get into those sticky situations where you’re not quite sure which of your public personas are appropriate to associate with each other.. in the interest of transparency (and rounded corners), I selected all of them except MySpace and LinkedIn.
Next step, you have to associate your Lijit account with a Gmail username (because the search engine is apparently associated with “Google Custom Search”. This is getting into seriously skeevy territory for me since I am paranoid about data aggregation, but I am still going to surge forward. They do point out that you can use a secondary (or “seperate” [sic]) Gmail address, so I use my old account that I used to use to respond to personal ads.
Ok, here’s the result:
Does this actually help anyone out, I wonder? I would find this useful for searching academic papers, or someone’s notes, but just looking through someone’s flickr photos or their dugg stories can’t really give me too much more value than just doing a regular flickr search.
Plus, this really does dovetail with the project on personal surveillance and widgetry that I’m working on (more on that if we get the grant, hush hush). We’re all encouraged to merge our data together and track more and more about ourselves – couldn’t you see something like this adding your amazon or Zappo’s wishlist, your allconsuming info, your 43 things, your dodgeball venue database? Sure, it’s all voluntary. But I bet lijit’s profit model isn’t selling personal search tech to the enterprise; it probably relies on consolidating user information somewhere down the line.
Anyway, it’s an interesting tool but not something I would have looked at if I hadn’t been emailed about it, and I will probably never use it again. Overall, is it 2 Lijit 2 Quit? The jury’s still out. (I couldn’t resist. Sorry).
4. Cellblock (awesome name) also emailed me as they appear to be doing a massive blog outreach — their “reviews” page includes about 20 blogs I’vve never heard of and no actual publications. Anyway, the app itself is fairly cool. Each cellblock widget has a unique email address. Anyone who has this address can email it pictures, txt messages, etc. and it will show up in the widget- sort of the same as a Flickr pool or a del.icio.us tag. I’m assuming the theory behind this widget is beautiful optimism about citizen journalism and Hollaback NYC and such, but in reality I bet it would be like “email me your upskirt pix!!1!” This doesn’t seem to have caught on much, which is unsurprising since nobody I know has ever heard of it.
The picture/audio/video widget space is SO overcrowded right now that it’s hard for anyone to get heard above all the din. Who’s actually emerging strongly here? Stickam has been around for a while, Flickzor is gaining some traction. We’ll see who throws the best party at SXSW.