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Social Software's Software

Nick Finck

August 15, 2005 at 4:20 PM

It seems there is a new trend among social software which is beginning to bug me already. With the two newest social software sites to join the mix is Imeem and Plazes. Both of these sites claim to offer something different than the competition (what that is exactly I have no idea). That aside, both of these sites offer a downloadable client. Now, being that I prefer to use the Mac I find this annoying. I must download and install the client in order to use Plazes. I am not sure about how it works on Imeem but apparently they will force you to download it, which is far worse. Here are a few tips to those planning to launch a social software site or service:

  1. Tell us how you are any different than O'Reilly Connection, LinkedIn, Orkut, or the 100 other similar sites out there.
  2. We went to your site to use your site, not your web client, don't force us to run a web client to use your site.
  3. If there is no other way around forcing us to use a client, at least offer us the options a Mac, Windows, or Linux client.

With that said, I am probably never going to sign up with either of these services not simply because of the client, but also because of the lack in any clear benefits they offer vs the competition.



August 15, 2005 at 4:50 PM

I believe you meant O'Reilly Connection not O'Reilly Connetion. :)

Nick Finck

August 15, 2005 at 4:53 PM

Thanks for the heads up Tom, typo fixed.

Tim Lawrenz

August 16, 2005 at 7:36 AM

hi, I am a plazes evangelist, so some answers: 1. plazes is not about who is connected to whom but who is where. I was here within the last 30 days (this feature is optin only) 2. Use Plazes through your browser or through the available clients, as ever you want 3. plazes has a wide range of 3rd party launchers for Win32, OSX and Linux (the api is open so everybody is invited to write one, see codeplaze) kind regards, tim

Nick Finck

August 16, 2005 at 8:38 AM

Tim: So why take users to a page after they first sign up where it seems like the only option is to download the client? Also, the issue about not having clients for other platforms was more about what Imeem was doing and not directed to Plazes. As for your item #1 listef above, how is this any different than using geoURL, IndyJunior or simular systems?

Tim Lawrenz

August 16, 2005 at 9:03 AM

Nick: I don't know if you saw the newly redesigned page where to download the clients but it shows the most used (third party) clients available right now (I wrote a plugin for trillian myself that is offered at the plazes download page). About #1: One Statement of plazes is: You are where you are connected. This is basically what the launcher is required for: to detect the mac id of the router you are connected to. While geoURL is a location-to-URL reverse directory (means: connecting URLs to locations, not persons to locations, as plazes does) and IndyJunior is a flash element that shows locations on a map (in a real nice way - Joi Ito combines IndyJunior and his plazes data), plazes is something I call a 'location enabler'. It offers you to enter data about the location you are currently at. You can add images (and tag your flickr images with a plaze), leave notes (maybe prices or the best meal if you are at a restaurant), and for sure enter location data like Country, City, etc. The next time s/o uses plazes at the same location, the system looks up the delivered mac id and automatically knows where you are. What it is good for? It has an easy to use API. It offers you to write a plugin for your blog (there are several around already) that automatically adds information to your (mo-)blog posts from where a post was submitted. You could do that for comments, too. Or you write a plugin for your favorite IM client that adds information about your location to your nickname (would be great if s/o could do that for skype, please :) And for sure you can simply look up where your friends are currently at and who is near you. There is a funny story told about it here. The possibilites are endless. Plazes simply adds real world information to the internet. Kind regards, tim

Nick Finck

August 16, 2005 at 9:13 AM

Tim: thanks for that detailed explanation. My only concerns I have left are: - How and/or can i turn off the client or uninstall it on the mac? (my friend reports that he can't just turn it on and off as needed) - Tell me about your privacy policy and what are you doing with the info you are collecting? (this has been a big problem with social software sites in the past, reselling their info to other companies, etc)

Tim Lawrenz

August 16, 2005 at 9:24 AM

Nick: You are very welcome. I am a Windows and Linux user, so i have no idea. Especially I don't know what launcher you are talking about, there are at least two launchers available for mac right now (while the most used is contributed by Martin Pittenauer - you may ask him). Plazes has a detailed privacy policy. The most important might be for you right now: Plazes does not rent, sell, or share personal information about you with other people or nonaffiliated companies except to provide products or services you've requested or when we have your permission.. Especially the tracking (storing the data where you have been) has to be switched on by you manually, it is not available by default. You still can simply switch off all launchers I've seen, remove/uninstall them or just disallow your computer to contact the plazes site (via your hosts file or your firewall). I know Stefan and Felix (the brains behind plazes) personally, worked together with them and let me assure you: they are the good guys...


August 17, 2005 at 2:28 PM

plazes relies on a piece of software in order to locate you. there is NO OTHER WAY than using client side software. we believe the benefits of a location based service outweigh the downside of installing the launcher. therefore we indeed do offer versions for all platforms, including mac osx and linux. the mac os x launcher is specifically swifty as it was written as a little non-intrusive menu bar item by mac developer guru martin pittenauer. check here for all versions:

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