To Amplify, Or Not To Amplify …

… that is the question. Or, maybe, your question is “what is Amplify?” I did a short piece on Amplify (link here), but wanted to revisit this really great service after experiencing it in greater depth.

Amplify (link here) is yet another social sharing, clipping and commenting site. But it is definitely more than the sum of its parts. Sure, you can pull in your content from feeds across the Web (manually, it appears for the time being). Sure you can follow others, view the stream of content generated by your follows, comment on their content and even “recommend” it. Or you can start conversations around your own shared content. Sure, you can create public and private groups within the site. Sure, you can post an update directly on the site (without a 140 character limit), and even distribute your posts from within Amplify back out across the Web. Sure, you can clip specific content (or entire URLs)  with a handy web clipper that works as an extension to Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera and IE, and even via a clever bookmarklet on your iPhone, iPad or Android phone. Sure, it has an inbox like Facebook. Sure it gives you view stats on your Amps. Sure you can edit clips or posts in a blog editor that looks suspiciously like WordPress (because it’s built on WordPress, silly). Wait a minute. You can do all that with one service?

Yes, you can. The number one guiding principal behind Amplify is the desire to spark meaningful conversation on the Web. How many times have you heard it said that you simply cannot converse on Twitter? Or that you are concerned about what you say on Facebook? There are sites that are better or worse for encouraging engagement, but Amplify seems to have put all the right parts in the right places to reach this goal. It shares a lot with Tumblr or Posterous – services that facilitate short-form blogging via sharing. It even allows posting by email, a feature Posterous made famous. You can personalize your clipping page with backgrounds and custom sidebars, like the two more popular short form blog sites.

Amplify also shares functionality with the ClipMarks extension – not surprising, since the two services share the same brain trust! Simply click on the extension button when you find yourself on a share-worthy page, decide whether to share the entire URL or portions of the page and click on the images, videos or text you want to share. Finally, it has a lot in common with social bookmarking sites, Delicious and Diigo, in that both encourage users to share their finds with others users of the service, offering an Amplify-er the opportunity to become a thought leader via clever and relevant Web sharing.

How to get started? Simply log on with your Twitter or Facebook account and you are up and running. Select the other service you want mirrored for auto-posting, install the pertinent browser extension for clipping, check out some featured users or use Amplify’s user-finder to connect with Twitter and Facebook friends who are also on Amplify. Once you get a decent group of follows, you will start to see some pretty interesting content flowing through your stream – jump in and start “recommending” posts that you like and even commenting below posts with your two cents. Amplify incorporates some pretty slick details, such as integrating Twitter conventions like @ replying and RT’s, making the experience even more comfortable for new timers.

I am not thrilled that the “post to” boxes default to checked – I prefer to under-, rather than over-share out to my various sites. I still believe in posting different information to different audiences. You can do that with Amplify too, but it will require some forethought and manual selection.

How good is Amplify at encouraging conversation and opening the eyes to something new? Check out the conversation generated (link here) when super-user Svartling clipped one of my blog posts, Curating Tweets: Can It Be Done, and shared it on Amplify. As Svartling expounds on my post, you can indeed use Amplify to curate tweets (or, as added in the comments, you can also use Svartling pointed out that the Amplify bookmarklet is specially designed to pull and format tweets – you can manually select the best tweets with the bookmarklet and create a tweet stream on Amplify. So, I did.

First, I pulled up a choice tweet:

As you can see, I clicked on the Amplify bookmarklet to access the pulldown menu. For this tweet, I picked “share this URL.” Back at Amplify, I added my two cents and posted. This is how the tweet looked in the general Amplify stream:

And here is how it looks on my Amplify page:

Amplify makes it look really nice, gives it a Twitter label, automatically adds some tags, and includes further sharing options for readers. While most people wouldn’t use Amplify solely for the purpose of curating Tweets, it is certainly a decent option for saving, sharing, and archiving the information you find useful on Twitter.

Check Amplify out – it might fit your use profile and offer you a better means of trolling the Web and sharing your spoils. While the vid below is a bit dated, you can get a short explanation by Amplify co-creator Eric Skiff with the “how to”. And visit my Amplog (a/k/a clog) at this link. Happy clipping!