Microsoft’s Wallop

Wired News writes about Microsoft’s effort to blend various tools to put together a social networking platform, built around instant messaging:

Wallop is Microsoft’s venture into the red-hot social-networking arena, using the common Microsoft tack of piecing together existing technologies and packaging them for the novice user. Those technologies include Friendster-style social-networking capabilities, super-simplistic blogging tools, moblogging, wikis and RSS feeds, all based on Microsoft’s Instant Messenger functionality.

Lili Cheng, research manager for Microsoft’s social-computing group, said Wallop enables users to build online social networks in a more realistic manner than Friendster, the popular social-networking website…Cheng says building an online network starting with your buddy list makes the networking process more natural. And instead of becoming immersed in a network the size of a city, Wallop would maintain its intimacy by automatically moving friends to the forefront and background of your network based on how often you interact with them.

Cheng hopes Wallop can address the biggest problem facing services like Friendster: sustainability. Users of these services often invest a lot of time setting up their networks, only to abandon them when they become too large, impersonal and unwieldy. And sites that focus on a specific task like finding a job or a mate have little value once the user’s goal is met.

Forrester analyst Charlene Li thinks Wallop may be able to overcome the sustainability problem, in part because it’s based on instant-messaging functionality.

“I like that it uses an existing tool (IM) that people already have as its foundation,” she said. “When you ask consumers to take on an entirely new behavior, that market, by design, would be smaller.”

One of the ideas we have thinking about is to combine social networking with the PubSubWeb ideas to put together two of the services we want to create: IndiaMirror and an SME Information Marketplace. More on this soon.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.