Want New On-Line Friends? Try Miio

Soc Net Day in the Studio. While my prior post trumpeted the simple privacy control of The Fridge, this post extols the virtues of making new connections on a whisper of common interest via Miio.

Miio is a social service that mirrors the old chat rooms of days gone by, where you could find new people to converse with based on some common interest – like my iVillage group formed of moms giving birth to babies in April, 2002. Once connected by this thin similarity, friendships bloomed and died, while drama and camaraderie ruled the day. These chat rooms presented a vastly different experience than today’s Facebook, where users usually cement prior real life connections with subsequent “friending” on line or Twitter, where there is little to no connection between follows and followers.

Miio appears to be a cross between the old-school chat room concept (you are suggested friends based on your stated interests and NOT your connections in other social networks) and modern social network design – with status boxes, media uploads, filtering, search by interest or location, and groups. Unlike Twitter, you get up to 2,000 characters of text to play with. It just recently underwent a fairly substantial redesign and the new layout is slick and makes sense, for the most part.

I joined Miio last night, curious about the buzz I had been hearing. Studio readers know that I am more than willing to hop on a new social networking bandwagon, recently joining other fringe services Cliqset, Pip.io, and Amplify. I am still an active Friendfeed user, and visit the big social sites regularly. Once I joined, selected a group of people to follow based solely on the interests listed in my profile and posted my “Hello World” message, I was immediately inundated with welcomes, offers of help with the site, follow notifications and even a group invitation. In viewing the public timeline, I was struck with the readiness of Miio’s residents to bring new people into the conversation, as well as the conversational tone on the site – a tone familiar to me from my iVillage days. Without a doubt, Miio was the nicest first-time user experience I have ever had.

With so many places to hang out these days, it is hard for a new site to distinguish itself. While Miio certainly has room to grow, I think it has done an excellent job of building a framework for conversation among web-dwellers that feels different from most other sites. I look forward to exploring Miio and, hopefully, watching it grow.

UPDATE: I wanted to share this video demo of Miio to give readers more of the nuts and bolts of the site. While Miio has recently gone through some changes, this will definitely provide a decent overview of how things work. Hope to see you over there, I’m at http://miio.com/marthasperry#description

Got Privacy Concerns? Get Fridge

Nary a week goes by that the Web isn’t buzzing with some new violation of privacy inflicted upon users of some social hangout. Just yesterday, I was helping a friend delve deep into the Facebook privacy settings to turn off all Places sharing options and to say it was a complicated process would be an understatement. I am of several minds about these privacy concerns, and they mostly range from “you can’t trust the big guys to keep individual interests at the forefront of the user experience” and “where there’s money, there’s deception” to “the sites are free, what do you expect?” and “can’t you simply use some common sense in what you are posting?”

When all is said and done, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to haunt locales that place a greater emphasis on privacy. Like defaulting privacy settings to fully private unless and until voluntarily opened up by the user.

One such site I found this morning, via Jason Kincaid at Techcrunch, is oddly named The Fridge. With a familiar interface bearing similarity to Facebook, but offering the ability to limit your sharing to specific groups of friends, The Fridge seems a nice balance between sharing and keeping.

How does The Fridge accomplish this? Not with hidden, obfuscated, and perhaps deliberately arcane  setting controls buried several layers of button-clicks deep. Instead, The Fridge limits sharing by organizing social circles by groups. In other words, users form private groups, invite like-minded friends to join and then encourage group members to share content and view content created by others within the group. Sounds ideal for an event, a club, or a common purpose.

Form the group by supplying your email, providing a group name and sending a special private link to potential group members. And that’s it. As creator, you can disable that private link or remove members from the group. Otherwise, simply plant your group seed and watch it grow outside the scope of the wider social circle you may belong to on other sites. And even outside the scope of other groups on The Fridge site – all groups are kept completely independent of other groups.

There are member profiles, news feeds and the ability to post text or media. It is most similar to Yahoo Groups and Ning, both sites that allow you to create a version of your own social net. While it may not be for everyone, The Fridge sounds like a great option for segregating a particular networking activity within a more private and protected setting. At the very least, you could head to The Fridge for a midnight snack.