May 27, 2007 |
I have just been told by one of our readers that we underestimate one current trend in Web 2.0. He mentioned that many people now have their online presence scattered around the web in blogs, photo and video sharing sites, social networks, etc. And so new services are created that are intended to gather all this content in one place – while Profy rarely pays attention to this trend.
I would not really agree to it: we have mentioned “online profiles aggregators” several times and we have actually given a detailed review of French startup that only recently entered American market Ziki – the one profiles aggregator I actually use myself to combine my online presence if anyone is interested in it (though I rarely visit the website myself for the kind of social networking they offer (it's rather basic and why would I need to network there when I have several profiles in social networks all gathered there?). The most innovative feature about Ziki is that they offer to promote your own name on search engines – so when someone is looking for “Svetlana Gladkova” in Google he or she will see a sponsored link to my profile on Ziki (and it is free for me because I was among early registrants). And somehow Ziki actually generates several hits a day to Profy even without me visiting it or modifying my profile at all.
We also spoke about Profilactic which is one classic example of profiles aggregation that unfortunately I have never been inclined to use after initial testing. This website was launched in public beta in January and is now in what they call “barely 1.0″ – it is still very new and the developers add new features and improvements every few weeks. The unique feature of this website is that it permits you to add friends and follow all their digital content from just one page. I think a really great feature could be ability to import your friends from all those websites you use (in case they use Profilactic, too) – this would have gathered a far larger community of Internet users here and that's what any web w=service needs. But right now the website is in rather basic form – the list of supported websites is rather limited (and personally I would have preferred Flickr integration to Twitter).
And so yesterday I was asked to review a new website that is called ProfileFly and is based on the same idea of aggregation of all your online profiles. I have just created an account there to test currently available features. I have actually found the algorithm of adding new profiles rather complicated: instead of simply providing us with names of available services (categorized as required) they only offer us to choose a category first – possibly to find out that the website you need is absent in this category (for example, I did not find LinkedIn among social networks – only later I found it in the category named “Professional”).
First I was rather impressed by the number of websites in each category: I thought they had carried out an extensive research to find all the more or less popular services for all the categories. But what seemed to be an advantage first happened to be a disadvantage: instead of actually integrating a moderate number of websites they only offer you to include links to your profiles, no matter what website you chose. So what does it offer to you? In reality, it is only a collection of your profiles on various websites – but all in one place. I'm not quite sure if anyone needs such an aggregator. At least, I don't – I prefer a deeper integration similar to Ziki's model.
What I could not understand at all is what they included the ability to add your bookmarks here for. I mean, instead of only doing what profiles aggregator is supposed to do, they decided to create a small copy of Digg or Newsvine for users to add their bookmarks and vote on them. Honestly, I do not see any meaning in submitting my bookmarks here when I have already listed my accounts on Digg, del.icio.us and Newsvine for everyone to see.
As a summary I think it is rather a basic service that unlike many other underdeveloped products preferred not to put a “Beta” sign near its logo. I still think I do not need a simple collection of my profiles (What for? For email signatures, maybe?). On the contrary, I really like what Profilactic and Ziki are doing (although they did not declare support of all things on Earth) showing my photos, my bookmarks and posts from my own blog. I know such a deep integration takes a lot of work but it is worth it. And I am almost totally sure that the aggregator that will enable me to view all the activities of all my contacts and friends from various networks (and creating meta-contacts based on the same contacts I communicate with on various networks) will be the winner in this profiles aggregators game. But what I'm afraid is that we will soon have so many profiles aggregators that we will need aggregators of profiles aggregators.