Dlvr.it Now Sends to Google+ – Go Autopost Your Blog!

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Web routing tool dlvr.it pulls content from existing feeds and formats and delivers it to your social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and many more social networks. As of this week, dlvr.it will now route your RSS feeds to Google+, which for me is great news. I already autopost my blog on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Now I can easily make sure my content gets posted to Google+ too. This is exciting news as dlvr.it is the first third party tool that allows such cross-posting to Google+. At this point, it will only publish to pages rather than personal profiles, but this is still a start.

 

Dlvr.it is a bit like a focused IFTT – its purpose is to deliver RSS content to social sites. But it is about more than simply delivering the news. It is a delivery mechanism and analytics dashboard, allowing bloggers, publishers and brands a way to instantly syndicate content and expand reach on the social web and into new channels. You can manage and measure the flow of your content everywhere your audience is. Dlvr.it publishes media, blogs, and other content to your social channels, instantaneously. You can then measure how people are interacting with that content. In the dashboard, see who clicks, comments, retweets and otherwise interacts with your content. What is cool is that Dlvr.it sends to more different sources than some of the other feed publishing tools, and automatically formats it appropriately for the destination. You also can set all or part of your feeds to go to different destinations. It has its own url shortener, or you can use bit.ly to shorten your links.

 

Free gets you five feeds into three social services, with a 30 minute window for delivery. Pro and Ultimate give you more for $9.99 and $19.99 per month, respectively. One of the add-ins is the Google+ Page destination. You also get support with the paid versions, push updates, geotagging posts, feed scheduling, advanced filtering and auto text edits, and other features.

 

If social media content syndication is important to you, then it might be worth a little change to set up your content to be delivered where and when you want it to on your social sites – taking the manual sharing piece out – and getting a little more feedback on how well your content is received. With the addition of Google+ as a social destination for dlvr.it, the cost is even more compelling.

State – A Roll-Your-Own Streaming App

There is a new kid on the block in the game of stream-management and that kid is State. Similar tools  have come before, with Friendfeed the most notable – apps that allow you to take your content from other applications and combine it into a single application much like braiding strands of hair into a single coil. The benefit to the user is a one-stop location at which the user’s own content can be managed and viewed, as well as a single vantage point for that user to view and interact with the streams of his or her follows. This was the point behind the popular Friendfeed, which has lost its luster in the wake of a talent sale to Facebook, and appears to be the driving force behind State.

It is not a clone, however. For example, your content isn’t just passively pushed into the service. You connect your services (five at the moment for bringing in content – Twitter, App.net, Instagram and, very interestingly, Dropbox, as well as Instapaper for sending out content), and build out your stream manually. When you add content using the icons on a “workspace” page, which you can rename with a better description of your page, you can select the incoming stream, then the resource – in other words the filter of content by filters that are meaningful to the service, including home timeline, mentions, user, place, tag, search, list, location, favorite, etc. Then fiddle with the content box dimensions containing the stream content and create a boxy-magazine like look. You can have several workspaces accessible by dropdown arrow.

You will also be able to follow others streams if users choose to make them public, and you can choose to make yours public or keep them private. Thus, when State really gets going (and hopefully hooks up more services), you will be able to use it as a content discovery tool and a personal content curation tool. The interface is unique and interesting. I can see the benefit as more services are added – and can definitely see the utility from both sides (managing your own and viewing others content) of the content coin.

You can ask for access to the private beta at the link above, and check out a demo of how State works. Can’t wait to see how this tool develops.

Not ANOTHER Social Network? Microsoft's So.cl

Yup. You heard that right. Microsoft is getting into the act too with its own social network called So.cl (pronounced So-shull). Do we really need another social network? Well, maybe, if it can bring something new to the table. So.cl’s angle is the ability to share your searching, presumably via Bing, with others in order to elicit commentary and maybe help someone else who might be looking for the same thing. Hence the “Find what you need and Share what you know” tagline. The status update box is actually titled “what are you searching for?” You can toggle the box to a more traditional style update as well. When you enter text in the box, the text hits your feed with related search results, also presumably via Bing.

 

 

You can add tags to save the search terms to a list, much like a favorites or bookmark tool. Items in the news feed can also be commented on or tagged by others. Another slightly different twist is the Video Party function – you can watch YouTube (and only YouTube at this time) videos with friends and chat about what you are watching. It also has a question feature, not quite so robust as Quora, and the ability to find and follow people with similar interests or topics of interest.

 

 

The interface is clean and you can make rich posts with montages of images and links from Bing when you search. Very sharp looking. People can comment on your posts – very social indeed.

 

The idea of saving your search results in a visually-appealing way sure sounds a lot like Pinterest, but it isn’t quite the same as a visual bookmarking service. The idea appears to be the creation of micro-resource posts for your friends and for yourself.

 

So.cl is being designed with educational institutions in mind, but it is currently open to the public for testing – it’s a product of Microsoft’s Fusion Labs. Who knows how long it will last or whether it will hit the prime time. But, I think it might have a chance. The social search angle hasn’t been fully developed yet and it seems an easy way to share knowledge and expertise. Why not head on over and try it out. Then head back here and post your feedback and your best guess as to whether this newcomer can survive in the dog-eat-dog world that is social networking.

 

HatchedIt – For The Domestic CEO

You manage your law firm with high tech tools, why not your family? If you already subscribe to the thought that high tech means high efficiency, then you might be interested in this calendar-based white board / web tool for family management called HatchedIt. What caught my eye was this blurb at the top of the About Us page:

 

According to Salary.com the job of family CEO should pay $134,121.00 per year.   It is an executive-level position that entails managing multiple schedules within tight budgetary constraints, while staying focused on the emotional and physical needs of others.

 

I’ll buy that. Anyway, it’s primarily a calendar app, but it is also more than that. Along with the calendar, you get an address book, a tool for sharing family news, a notebook tool and even a household blog. The idea is that HatchedIt can serve as your personal Sharepoint +  a place to keep important information vital to the whole family, as well as a hub for the social sharing we are all familiar with in our more mainstream web dealings. While your immediate family- connected group may be small, HatchedIt allows you to connect with a larger group of HatchedIt users via permissions. Use email from the app to communicate with non-HatchedIt individuals. You can set up personal news and blog feeds, and easily share interesting content within the app to your family. Guess I won’t need to email my son with cool YouTube videos anymore. No more complaining that you didn’t know about that dinner date on the calendar – HatchedIt lets you share the information in one space with personal log-ins and passwords for members. View all or individual calendars. Group chat with other members, share select information with members, sitters, grandparents, or parents of your kid’s best friends. Send event invitations. Use it for organizing private family events to organizing class parents at schools, hobby groups, and volunteer efforts. Privacy controls let you share as much or as little as you want.  That is a lot of organization, all for free.

 

You can access this web app from any computer, as well as via free mobile apps for iOS and Android. It goes where you go.

 

These days, I primarily turn to Google’s suite of applications to handle my co-calendaring and personal home management. But there is something to be said for an application that is dedicated to the family. Well thought out and executed, Kirstin Bischoff and Megan Brown.

 

How To Deal With Google Search + Your World

A lot has been going down at Google lately. New collapsed privacy policies, which I am covering in my next class at Solo Practice University, and the roll out of the new Google Search, which adds a + Your World layer to the search giant’s core application – search. What does it all mean? What do I do with this? Big questions, but there are answers to be found and it isn’t as overwhelming and life-changing as one may think when one reads the hue and cries over privacy and search integrity overflowing the tech blogs in the wake of the roll out.

You can read more about the details of Google Search + Your World here. Or check out the video below for an overview.

The essential change is that Search +, as it is being called, will include content added by your friends to your search results when you type in a query. You will also see relevant profiles (Google + profiles, that is) in your results view, and you can expand your social connections with profiles related to your search queries. The assumption, or really the sell, is that content on point generated by your contacts will be of greater relevance, value and presumably veracity than results from the larger, impersonal web. Social results will be marked in your results list with a little blue person, so you can distinguish social or Search + results from general results.

What kinds of content will you see from your friends? Photos, Google + content from your Circles, Google profiles and people and pages related to your topic. So not all of the content being served is directly connected – popular Google social content will also show, which presumably is what traditional SEO companies and advocates are squawking about – it will turn Google relevance on its head. The new mantra is fostering a presence on Google+ in order to improve social search results. Facebook and Twitter won’t help you here – Google is clearly favoring its own content, in part because it can and in part because of impediments to mutually beneficial relationships with Facebook and Twitter. Big business at its best here folks.

Google has been moving in this direction for some time, with its introduction of +1′s across the web improving page ranking and integrating social search back many months ago. It is now giving its own social network, Google +, a leg up in the social search results. And why shouldn’t it? Social search is the next big evolution of search on the web and if Google has readily available relevant social content, they would be “mad” not to include it in their results. And, for all of those users afraid of social polluting their search, you can always toggle off the social search function using the buttons at the upper right corner of the search results screen – or not log into your Google account at all when you search.

So, as a content creator, get yourself on Google + and make the best effort of it. You probably already have a Twitter stream and a Facebook page – get that content moving on Google + too. If that sounds daunting, add some tech wizardry with a cross-posting extension like this one here. If you are a content searcher, then you can toggle social on or off, but consider that you are getting more potentially relevant leads and links with social turned on. Search both to compare results – that one extra step might will put you in a better position than searching one or the other alone.

Google + and social are definitely here to stay. Might as well make the best of it.

 

 

Meet The New Delicious

Sneaking in between big announcements from Facebook, Amazon and Apple, the all new Delicious has launched and is looking very visual and social. Fans of the site have been struggling over the better part of the past year as Yahoo shuttered operations at the seminal social bookmarking site and then sold it off to YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen. For months now, devotees have wondered what Hurley and Chen would do with the site, shuddering a bit at the new terms of service. But now Delicious is finally back and, I daresay it, still fresh, interesting and effective.

Delicious was a pioneer of the Web 2.0 movement – creating an application that allowed you to log in and save key web content from any browser, peruse the favorite items of other members on the site and connect over web content. Delicious retains its social sharing DNA, but changes the “network” and “fans” to “followers” and adds a new feature, Stacks, that looks a lot like a playlist of your favorite content. In other words, Stacks allows you to curate related web content and share that curation on the site – much like Scoop.It and Pinterest. Also new: multi word tags and media previews. And, according to Hurley and Chen, they have a lot more features waiting in the wings to add value to the Delicious  experience.

The good news is that saving content via the familiar checkered bookmarklet in the browser will remain intact. The better news is that all your hard, curation work is going to get a whole lot shinier. Check out an example of a “stack” of links about Texas wildfires:

Also, check out the interview with Hurley and Chen over at AllThingsD - I wish them – and Delicious – all the best.

Pinterest – Clean, Visual, Social Bookmarking

If a social service is going to grab me, it has to have two things, in varying degrees: utility and visually appealing design. If it has visually appealing design, but only a bit of utility, then I may play around with it for the sheer beauty of it. If it has tons of utility, but crappy design (I’m looking at you Twitter), then I will still play around with it, but might avert my eyes a bit. Pinterest has a healthy dose of both criteria.

What is it? Pinterest is an online scrapbook / pinboard / visual bookmarking / social network. Now that is an eyeful! The idea is to use Pinterest to save beautiful, useful, interesting things, but I can imagine it moving beyond that for your own personal use. Create a profile, mark your interests, and start pinning stuff. Save your web finds (called “pins”) on “boards”, which resemble a page or bulletin board. Organize and share your pins and boards and browse those created by others, tagged with your interests. You can use a bookmarklet to “pin” from across the Web, or you can upload your own images (super simple with the iPhone app for saving stuff while on the go).  You can re-pin something that someone else has pinned – pin-etiquette suggests that you should credit the original pinner with the save. Thus, the site is also social in that it encourages you to browse others stuff and interact via the repinning and crediting functions. You can also comment on pins, “like” someone’s pin and share your own pin with another user who might also like what you are saving.

Another cool feature is the ability to open your boards up to other contributors. Say you have a firm and you want some ideas on how to decorate the lobby. Each member of your firm assigned to designing the lobby could create Pinterest profiles. Open a board called “Lobby Design” and set your contributing members loose on the web.

Fit out your website with a Pinterest badge to encourage people to visit Pinterest and marvel at your design sense. Or add a “Pin it” button to your site in the hopes that other Pinterest users will reward you with a “pin”.

Even their FAQ is visually appealing. Way to go Pinterest – the “pin”nacle of design and utility!

Have You Reddit?

UPDATE: if you aren’t sold on the value of Reddit, can I suggest you take in this inspired discussion on Reddit as to whether the sun is hard or squishy. Thanks BoingBoing – this is truly beautiful.

I’m back! And ready to jump back into all things tech and web. Out of the gate, I thought I would visit a web tool that I have noted for quite some time, but haven’t really taken advantage of – Reddit. Reddit is a social news site that bills itself as the source for what’s new and popular across the web. The content is submitted by the community of users. Those same users can vote up and down the content, creating a constantly shifting front page of popular news. The site is broken up into individual, topic based Reddits. You can subscribe to the Reddits that interest you. While you can subscribe to as many Reddits as you like, your front page can show 50 Reddits at most (more if you are a “Gold” member). Each Reddit has a monitor – a user that helps keep the Reddit moving in a positive direction. You can use a search function to find topics and individual Reddits and build your news sources accordingly.

In order to prevent spamming, there are limits to the number of links you can post during a certain time frame. Users can also accrue karma points based on the submission of well-liked content. Of course, you can also comment on links, so there is both movement in the popularity of links as well as in discussion surrounding the links. And comments can become popular or unpopular via voting, so there is movement in the comment ranking as well.

Reddit has been around for a while, which can mean a potential for irrelevancy in a rapidly changing web. Similar service Digg has suffered somewhat in this regard over the past year or so (as well as from a hellish redesign). However, this negative result does not appear to be the case for Reddit. It has a somewhat smallish, but thriving community of contributors that seems able to actually get things done. Like prompting Stephen Colbert to hold his rally in Washington, D.C. in October, 2010, raising a half a million dollars for charity. Recently, a riveting account of a standoff between the New Jersey police and a gunman bubbled up through Reddit, not Twitter. The Redditor, Elinika, supplied eyewitness accounts and updates to Reddit and the local New Jersey paper, a prime example of citizen journalism at its best.

I like Reddits no-nonsense interface – you see mostly just the links when you visit, and no advertising (Woot!). there are tabs for what’s hot, new, controversial, top and saved, with individual topics at the very top of the screen. To engage, simply create an account, and start linking and voting.  But be careful, Reddit can be mesmerizing – the front page is constantly changing based on user actions and there is a lot to see and explore.

In sum, Reddit is a nirvana for social news junkies interested in the content that interests others.

If you want tools to supercharge your Reddit experience, check out this article at MakeUseOf that highlights some apps / extensions to improve the site’s utility.

Ten Big Adds for Google + (Updated)

I have been seeing scores of posts with peoples’ opinions on what Google + needs to make it better and, for the most part, I find I disagree with them. But Martin Bryant’s post over at The Next Web  has the first list that actually notes improvements that make sense. To me, anyway. I really don’t care whether I can watch a TV program with my virtual friends on the + network.

From a lawyer’s perspective, Bryant’s suggestions would make the service a lot more business-friendly. His first, search, is a necessity. There is no way to search posts within Google +, which seems odd coming from a search giant. Why not? Wouldn’t it be great to search within Google + to find others discussing the same issues of interest to you, or sharing content you want to see? The second, improved sharing, is also needed – I struggle with sharing from the mobile applications. I am using + on both Android and iOS, and while the dedicated Android app is better, it still lacks the ability to reshare another post or get the full “link” sharing experience of the desktop. Since people seem to spend more time on their mobiles these days, improved sharing with a mobile bent would be most welcome.

Shared circles - like Groups in Friendfeed for those familiar with the concept – would be a great place for like-minded professionals to read, share AND comment on industry-related topics. And, of course, document collaboration is high on the list of most workers. Wave had it, why not +? Combine the document collaboration feature with the Hangout group video chat feature, and I think you would have a real business winner on your hands.

Instant translation and a log of your activity would also serve + well – I would like to be able to go back over the actions I have taken on + to track stuff that I liked or commented on and translation seems vital in our internationally connected world. While I am less concerned with connecting + with Twitter and Facebook, it might help initially to stave off the sense on + that it is completely unconnected to your family and friends (most of my tech friends are on + already).

It’s great that you can edit posts once you post them, but how about being able to save posts as drafts in order to prevent loss on system failures? This would make + a more effective “blogging” platform – a one-stop shop that could challenge Tumblr, as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Integrating audio and maps into + would also be a, well, plus. But if you are going to get into some of the less business-worthy adds, I have one that Bryant doesn’t mention – how about getting Google Music incorporated into +? Two great services that would DEFINITELY taste great together.

Thanks Martin for the very nice list. Google, are you listening?

UPDATED: If you use Chrome (and you should) and need translation help right away, consider using the Helper for Google+ extension created by Misha M. Kupriyanov – you can get it at http://bit.ly/gplushelper . You’re welcome.

Google + = The Sum Of Its Parts

Well, that wasn’t long. O.k., in tech years, its like so 1965 to be two days after the first wave, but still. Definitely not as long as I had to wait for Wave. I have been playing around with Google + for a few hours now. And I am desperately hoping: (a) it catches on with the mainstream; (b) it maintains its clean, uncluttered look and feel; (c) it actually becomes a viable alternative to Facebook.

Reading the negative tech reviews will yield a bevy of criticisms for how + has been rolled out, the signup and invite process, the bugs with connecting this account or that account. But that is the stuff of beta / invite-burdened new apps. Once inside, it is a compelling mix indeed.

The social application is really a sum of many parts, some new, some old. Looking back over the past few months and the little upgrades Google has rolled out to Profiles, +1, and Gmail, you can really see the path to Google +. First, the new. Circles – a means of grouping friends, borrows public streams from Twitter, Friend Groups from Facebook, but adds something new – the ability to post only to the circle. This promotes privacy and more fine-grained sharing – you can freely share with friends circle that which you might not want to share with your family or work circles. The clever animations when you create and add to Circles and the ease of use of the system are nice tweaks. +1 to Google on its circle implementation.

Next, the stream. Think Facebook News Feed meets Friendfeed here. The stream is content created and shared by the people you follow (filtered by circles if you wish). The Friendfeed element comes from posts popping back to the top of the stream when new comments or +1′s are added to the post, as well as the ability to mute or hide a post in the stream. Some commenting edits can only be accomplished after the post is shared, which is tricky. But what do you expect from a beta?

Photos are integrated with Picasa. Tags can be applied by anyone, which isn’t great, but you have the ability to approve or reject a photo tag, which makes up for the privacy breach. The photo tab now includes both your own Picasa albums and photos shared by your friends on Google+.

Sparks assist you in starting a thread on a particular topic within a circle. Go to the Sparks tab and it gives you topics of general interest, which you can then follow. Sparks are private to you, unless of course you share them with your circle(s). I am following the Soccer spark.

Hangout is also new. It is a super-cool video chat that can pull in anyone in a particular circle. Great controls, plus the ability to watch YouTube videos as a group within the sub-app – very fun and, of course, social.

You going mobile? Well, your options are a native app on Android, or a very nicely executed web app on iOS. The mobile Google + incorporates a great group chat called Huddle, up to 50 people! That might get a bit unwieldy, but it could have worked well in the large conference / training session I ran today. ;)

How about the old? Well, your Google Profile, Picasa Web Albums as noted above, Google Chat and Gmail are all easily accessible and highly integrated with Google +. You can get notification of actions on posts and other information in Gmail, like Buzz. Or not. You can quickly shift to Google chat via a button in the left sidebar of Google +. Your home stream, pics, profile and circles are easily accessible from buttons right along the top and slightly to the left. And, like Android, notifications are obvious, but very unobtrusive – via a small red box in the brand new black bar at the top of Google’s various screens.

And the design is beautiful. Clean. Sparse. Gorgeous. Even Gmail is celebrating – check out the new Preview and Preview (Dense) themes in your Gmail settings and you can get a similar design applied to your Gmail. Clearly, Google has been thinking about this integration for a while now and has been carefully and slowly slipping out the pieces, letting us get familiar with small parts of the new system, before unrolling the meat of it.

One more thing: you can take it all with you. You can pull all the content you add into Google+ right back out of Google+. it’s yours after all, right? Not everyone thinks so. I’m looking at you, Facebook. Big plus for + on that one.

Is it perfect? Well, no. But few things are, especially when new. Facebook wasn’t. Twitter still isn’t. I think Google is further along the developmental curve than either of these were at inception, but Google also has the benefit of their errors in social, as well as their own. I think this is the most promising foray Google has made into social, a battleground that its new management deems to be vital. I wish them luck and longevity. And I wish for myself that more of my mainstream friends could get in and see what a great option the new Google+ really is for social sharing and integration. Big +1 ups, Google!