Diaspora Introduces Makr.io, An Image Sharing Network With A Twist

Remember Diaspora? An open source initiative that powers you to stay social and have control on your data as well. It has recently rolled out Makr.io which lets you share images. Well that’s not just yet another image sharing network, it has a different angle.

makr-io-intro

Start by signing up for a free account with the service using your Facebook account or any email. Once you get in you will get to see what might appear as a flowing image feed. On a deeper study you will notice every(or most) image is remixed with some words that emphasizes the perspective that inspired the image. You can re-Remix any image and add your own text or effects. Images can be imported by URLs or uploaded from your local storage as well.

makr-io-remix

However simple the idea might seem, the image sharing on the service has a story telling angle which is the USP for the product. The images shared on Makr.io can also be shared across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. Although Diaspora’s new initiative reminds me of Cowbird, the latter is a little better in storytelling while Makr.io is dead simple to use.

The whole campaign relates to the developer company’s core motto of preserving data ownership rights for users. According to the developers,

…..It isn’t just that people need to be able to own their own data, it’s that user data as it stands has no tangible meaning. We believe that ownership of data can be more valuable when you have the ability to create meaningful moments and experiences with your community.
Makr.io is solving the second part of the problem. It is an exploration of social communication that lets people make things they are proud of, and collaborate with other users….

In an age where every big shot social networking websites are busy taking control of every byte of data you share with them, Samaritan companies like Diaspora brings the sense of security back in the game. And that the community is so far responding well(Diaspora is already among top 2% of all open source initiatives) to the cause. More similar initiatives need to get born to help restore the freedom of web that it used to enjoy once.

While concluding with Makr.io, I can hardly resist a line and to append one of mine to it. An image says a thousand words although an image with the right words tells a story.

Need A Second Opinion? Ask A Question On Thumb

Bought a new pair of glasses? Or need some buying advice? Whatever be the case, we have questions to ask, we love responses and we need opinions. There’s always a good way to ask your Facebook or Twitter buddies or some may even try the Google+. Frankly from time to time the updates never receive attention as it is buried down with the flooding updates from others. Here is an Android app that does a great job in getting your updates rated or opinionaided(as they like to call it). The amount of responses you get is something makes it stand out in the crowd of already popular services that offers Q&A.

thumb-intro

Thumb, with a simplistic method, lets you ask a question about anything you wish to get a second opinion. Once you have uploaded something the app algo shows it to random users listed in a random pattern with similar updates from people using the app. Users can vote on it with a thumbs up/down, express indifference with a neutral button or those who really wish to take participation to higher level can drop in a comment too. You can also add images to your questions to make them more intriguing.

thumb-app-interface

Asking a question or voting on a question on Thumb is so surprisingly easy and judging by the obvious engagement big names have it already being termed as one of the most addictive social network around questions. The average responses ranges something around 70 per question which is not just a big number, it explains how addictive Thumb is already. The user engagement even astounded the company CEO Dan Kurani when it first took off. Check out the promo video, it demonstrates quite exactly how prompt, albeit, diverse thinkers the Thumb community comprises of.

The app once again proves that the social space is far from being called saturated. If you have right mantra and the right skills to implement it, getting someone into the social game is not that hard. As in this case, the app banks on the instinctive nature of humans, where the response is more impulsive rather than judgmental. Moreover, we all have opinions and we just love to express them even before we are asked. That’s me exaggerating, although, I believe Thumb took this simple logic into consideration.

Get Thumb for Android and iOS.

Kyck Start Your Football Madness With The Soccer Social Network

The knockout stage has kicked off for Euro 2012 thereby taking the football fever to a higher level. There are plenty options you can socially connect to the madness. There’s Twitter and other apps like OnSports, PlayUp, Share The Match etc that does a fine job handling the social updates pertaining to the game.

kyck-intro

However, a new social network, Kyck plans to make the experience more specifically soccer-centric. The service went live last summer with a website and the release was followed by an iOS app launched afterwards. The company plans to go mobile and an Android variant is expected during the end of the current year. The company was started by Mac Lackey, a vet in the online tech industry and was sold off later. The team currently consists of 14 members and 3 interns.

The social network is currently invite-only, although, the team urges users to ask for an invite which will most likely get answered in a day. Alternatively, you can ping them on Twitter, letting them know about your eagerness and passion to join the network by adding a hashtag #KYCKme to your tweet. Once you get in you can follow international teams as well as any player to check out the latest conversations related to the topic. Similarly, if you wish to get your views included in a specific conversation feed, you can tag them with the relevant tag. Check-ins to a game, club or player will ensure you get in-app or push notifications related to them in later times. The social element comes in as a hybrid of Twitter features. You can follow people to get updates(photos, comments, notes etc) from him/her on your stream. Moreover, the spiffy algo also curates a list of contents(Top Kyck) that are considered commendable by the community.

The new network is planning for a public release sometime during the next month. The UI and wider availability are two major elements they are putting their faith in to ensure better feel for the users.

While OnSports and PlayUp remains my favorite, I can’t stop myself from using the official Euro 2012 app in an unceasing manner while I’m not in front of a TV. But that said, the Euro 2012 app is for the time being I will certainly love to have something like OnSports that is entirely for soccer games and all sorts of them. Thankfully Kyck feels so much like it. Since I prefer Android, I will have to wait for some time to comment more on the mobile experience the soccer social network delivers. Until then we will love to  hear more from you about your favorite sports apps.

Hotstagram Borrows Facemash Idea to Compare Instagram Photos

Remember the Mark Zuck classic Facemash? Well the story didn’t go that well for him. Did you know yet that the inspiration behind it was Hot or Not? Many, borrowing the idea, came afterwards and made their mark. The whole idea of girl pics being compared is kinda too hot to resist. Isn’t it?

hotstagram-intro

Yet another startup Hotstagram plans to exploit the idea. Instagram, not so while ago an iOS darling and then dished out for Android users to play with it and finally Facebook joined in to spoil acquire the whole party. Yet Instagram remains the most preferred app that still makes(and shares) those dull snaps look brilliant. 2011 figures suggest the number of images shared on the network is 400 million. That’s indeed a big number. The new startup plans to compare the people photos from Instagram based on how attractive(or HOT) they are. Users can choose to rate pictures of girls as well as guys. There’s no signup needed to vote on pictures. Instagram users who wish to get their pictures voted by random people can share their Instagram pics with Hotstagram by adding a simple #hotstagram tag to them. Hotstagram also provides a link for current matchup to share it elsewhere.

The idea although sounds a little creepy but the 27-year old founder who goes by the name Captain Kirk claims there’s nothing illegal. The whole picture sharing is compliant with the terms and conditions of Instagram. Facebook and Instagram is yet to issue any official statement to claim anything fishy about Hotstagram.

Seriously speaking the USP is intelligent. Tapping into a mammoth database of retro imagery and using a popular network to create content combined with the gender tickle will hardly be a failure. However the success banks on how the Instagram users are going to adopt it or rather how willing they are to get rated. Expectantly the response so far has been overwhelming and the unnamed developer claims their servers have crashed several times failing to handle the user overload. It’s up and running now. So have you rated yet?

Wakoopa, the Service that made Software Social, Comes to an End

In an email to all customers, Wouter Broekhof, the Founder & CTO of Wakoopa, has announced that the service that enabled discovering software social is now coming to an end. wakoopaWakoopa Social started six years ago with the intention to build the ‘lastFM for software’. Wakoopa uses a client side application that logs the usage of software and Web applications and lets users publish this usage information on their profiles at the website. Analysis of ones profile leads to recommendations for additional software while users can write reviews, give descriptions, and tag software.

In June 2008, Wakoopa announced $1 million USD in new funding and since 2010, Wakoopa has been focused on the corporate research community. They’ve developed products such as Trailspot and QD to bring online research to the next level. Wakoopa will continue to focus on making products for corporate research market, although they’ve hinted that something is in the works for the consumers as well. The switch in priority would mean the end of Wakoopa Social.

From next week, Wakoopa Social will stop tracking your data and on June 30, 2012, the service will be closed definitively. From July 1, 2012 to the next three months, you will be allowed to download an export of your own Wakoopa data.

Promote Your Work To Followers Who Admire You

Real or unreal, people flock on social networks, and if you happen to command upon a handsome number of fans there, your creativity can find a better voice with Gumroad. The new startup aims to help you market your work on the people network you already influence.

Sign up for a free account or you can use your Facebook or Twitter to get one. Once you are in, you can add your work by providing links or upload it to the Gumroad cloud that also works as a hosting service. Add a name for your work, set a price that’s reasonable for your effort and press the Add Link button. You’ll then be redirected to your sales page where you can further succinctly detail your work, add a thumbnail, track purchases/views or disable the sales. You can find a uniquely generated URL to sales page to share with your Facebook and Twitter fans and friends.

gumroad-add-link

Apart from the common configurations, advanced options lets you showcase a work on profile, limit a sale for a predefined amount or add Webhooks to it. The interesting Webhooks feature for sellers offers better understanding of buyers and respond to them. It works great for specific purposes and can be used on link-to-link basis and not a universal feature for all. Know more about this here and to add Webhooks to any link use it from the More Options menu.

The pricing feature also offer a unique approach to pricing. You can enter a minimum amount for any item and then your users can define their own price for the item. This can be great if you choose to open a donation fund in exchange for a unique creation(e.g. a special sponsor Tshirt). Set a limit for any sale for a target fund such that when any number users pay their own prices to close the campaign to support the cause by buying the product, the campaign will feature them in an order they paid amounts are. A feel of exclusivity seems to work for them and your cause. To use this feature add a “+” after the minimum price you assign for a product. Anything from a charity program to a gig to commemorate a cause can leverage from this idea.

While payments will be sent to your Paypal account(once every month, no payment thresholds were found), your buyers will need to use their email and credit card(also address if you choose so, not required by default) details to complete the transaction. This might sound a bit tiresome (as credit card payments are) but it isn’t, if you take a look at the screenshot below(or use the demo page), you’ll get an idea how simple it is actually.

gumroad-payment

Any average Joe and Jane in the trade can use the wieldy tool. One major concern is maintaining customer records. If you are a popular artist or a seasoned marketer and happen to generate a healthy number of sales, it can be quite a ghastly experience. Leveraging networks for marketing sake is nothing new; Facebook pages are a perfect example. But Gumroad seems to make it inherent by seamlessly adding social sharing to marketing. The idea has specific advantages. Since people who follow you does so because they admire you, sharing your work with them will have better chances to get them sold or at the least shred to their own networks. On a concluding note, the app although may not serve as suitable tool for heavy marketing but serves individuals in need for a marketing media to publicize  and handle their sales.

Share Your Smartphone Screen on MyColorScreen

mycolorscreen_iconImage sharing is of essence. Pinterest and Instagram have proven that and the Instagram acquisition by Facebook has made the startup trend even more legit. MyColorScreen is a new startup that opens up a network of people who love sharing the screenshots of home screen on their smartphones.

Smartphones are something which are a strictly personalized device be it the apps or how it looks. Now if you are passionate enough to show off how your homescreen looks like, the new startup is a great place to start. The app has already housed more than 11000 homescreens from the Android and iOS. It’s a nice idea and is quite addictive as you keep on looking at those stunningly customized homescreens.

mycolorscreen-app

Once you choose to jump into the new app, sign up. After that, go to the upload screen and after a couple of selections (OS choice, phone template, homescreen screenshot) you will be able to share the screen. You can upload multiple screens at a time too. Once you have uploaded the screen you will also be able to tag apps and wallpapers in the screenshot to tell what apps you used or are visible on the screenshot.

mycolorscreen-app-tags

As we have seen how Pinterest has grown into a referral site and publishers and developers are sincerely using it as a promotional tool even though it is nothing but an image sharing service. Considering that MyColorScreen can also be a great place to promote your Android and iOS apps by tagging them to the screenshots and showing off your app (multiple) screenshots too. The striking similarity to Pinterest grid layout also goes with the recent trend of grid based UI.

The frustrating fact about the app is that you do not have a native app for the smartphones to take/share screens directly from the phone. Otherwise the site is a visually pleasing gallery of homescreens worth a watch. All said, we still have to wait to see if this app turns into a successful marketing tool or just an image sharing app. Whatever be the fate of this app, the developers did employ a brilliant concept.

Storytelling With Cowbird Adds A Personal Touch To Them

cowbird-logoCowbird a new startup aims to change the way we express ourselves on the web. With time, the emails changed into messages, messages were trimmed to SMS, then came status update and finally we are more happy tweeters. Storytelling was an art, an art that’s about to be forgotten as we tend to speak less, more often. Cowbird plans to change that.

A new network for storytellers who still love to tell a story, get involved in a conversation or express a moment as a poem. True there are quite a few places you can share your proses, blank verses etc or express your literary skills. Yet readers can’t truly interact with you and your words. Cowbird is here to bridge the gap. It offers a brilliant way to share your writings, an audio where you narrate it as well as present them with a great snap that says it all. Impressive, isn’t it?

cowbird-tell-your-stories

Start a story, write your words, speak it out, let the emotions flow as you take a trip to the past or savor a moment. A picture is worth a thousands words. Cowbird takes note and lets you add an image that represents your words in the best possible way. Assign tags, add locations and people to your story. Like other social networks, people can engage with your stories by loving them or by being your audience.

Comparing to Facebook’s way of storytelling (with Timeline feature) this is completely different. On Facebook, the storytelling revolves around an individual, whereas this startup combines stories from different people in form of a Saga or collection. The saga is curated with an interest specifically motivated by a happening or a thought while the collections are stories regarding random ideas.

Jonathan Harris, the founder, also gives a perspective where he aims to document people’s lives in the form of storytelling. A Wikipedia for life’s experiences. It is quite interesting to see a startup taking the risk of going off the trend which presently encourages using fewer words to share. Despite all odds the startup has a sizable amount of storytellers. The startup yet again proves that developers still need to focus on a more substantive approach for their apps to make them more engaging.

So now that you have a way to tell it, what’s your story?

Google Search Gets its Most Significant Update Ever, Becomes More Personal

When Google launched Plus, it made it pretty clear that Plus itself was just one facet of Google’s social plans. Now, it is ready to unveil the other major component. Google Plus will soon become an integral part of Google Search – the core product on which Google built its empire.

Amit Singhal, the person who has shaped Google Search for more than a decade, wrote, “We’re transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships”. Google has been experimenting with Social Search for over two years. However, empowered by its own social network, Google is now going to go where it couldn’t or wouldn’t go earlier. It is dubbing the new experience as “Search, plus Your World”. It centers around three crucial features.

Personal Results: Just as the name suggests, Google will tap into your Google Plus circles to fetch content created and shared by your friends. Looking for a place to party on a Friday night? Google can pull up places your friends have visited along with their comments. The objective is to add more context to information so that the search results do a better job at answering your queries.

Google-Personalized-Search-Results

Profiles Search: Google is adding profile autocomplete that will scan your circles to suggest friends, in addition to celebrities and other public personalities. “So when I search for [ben smith], I now find my dear friend Ben every time, instead of the hundreds of other Ben Smiths out there”, explained Singhal. The results themselves will also have tight integration with Google Plus. The results will be hyperlinked to Google Plus profiles, and you will be able to add people to your circles directly from the search results page.

People and Pages: The new Google search results page will have a little sidebar called “People and Pages on Google+” that will highlight personalities and communities related to your search term. For example, if you search for music you will see profiles of popular singers and musicians like Britney Spears and Alicia Keys.

Google-People-and-Pages-on-Plus

“Search, plus Your World” is possibly the most radical update to Google Search ever. Make no mistake about it, as it begins rolling out to the millions of Google users across the world, ramifications are going to be felt. Most people resist change, and even the smallest of them often triggers vociferous protests. Google’s new personalized search dramatically alters search results, and often pushes Google Plus in your face. While there are plenty of cases where a personalized result will be more relevant, there are plenty of occasions where they will in fact be detrimental. Personalized search often creates a myopic world where new and useful information is buried beneath the familiar and old. So it’s no wonder that some people are going to hate “Search, plus World”. In fact, lots of people are going to hate the new Google Search. Fortunately, Google also realizes this. For the first time ever, it will be really easy to opt out of personalized and social search. With the click of a button you will be able to toggle between global results and your personal results, on a query to query basis. You will be able to see and judge the pros and cons of personalized search for yourself.