Blogcatalog Give Purpose To The Social Graph

If you are a devotee of Facebook or Myspace, I have a message for you

There is a World Outside Your Fishtank

Within “blogging” social networks I have been pushing to have a reason to add someone as a friend for a long time. Blog broadcasts, built in feed readers and OPML will eventually provide a reason to join communities.

I know that MyBlogLog are planning to also launch something similar and I have a feeling this will likely kick off more people claiming Blogcatalog is just a copycat of Mybloglog.

Blogcatalog Dashboard

I first had a sneak peak at the Dashboard a few days ago and gave Tony from Blogcatalog a lot of ideas for features, such as:-

  • adding snippets to the social news items, Digg buttons (title, desciption and button = old Digg Interface… yay!)
  • merging URLs from multiple submissions
  • pulling in friends from all your social profiles

The thing is, Blogcatalog was already collecting feed items, and displaying those from the communities you joined, and there was also a need to somehow draw other discussions taking palce on Blogcatalog into a single portal – discussions – groups – broadcasts

The social profiles have been available for some time, it is just they weren’t being used effectively, and because there was not such a purpose in updating the profiles (unless you know a little about SEO, branding and reputation management), it actually makes testing and reviewing the new features difficult.

So what is really needed is for people who have Blogcatalog accounts to add their social profile information until such time as friend data is being pulled in from places like Twitter directly through their API.

Then again, you might not want to see all the updates from that many friends all on one page – it is something that needs careful thinking about, and I have some ideas I need to map out for the development guys.

Note: I would certainly look on this interface as alpha or beta stage – as more data gets added, it is certainly going to get crowded, and I have also noted some delays in updates, though that appears to be an internal bug, as the data does seem to be fetched to other pages.

Update

I am certainly not perfect and missed something whilst digging around, which was actually mentioned in the full announcement on the Blogcatalog boards.
This is I suppose one of the negatives of previewing something before the official announcement, and wanting to post early.

Dashboard Settings

With the dashboard settings, you can choose to follow the social graph of up to 40? people – as I didn’t spot this on my own, maybe something needs to be made a little clearer for new users.

You also have full control of both what you see and what you share with others

What you see and share

I would of course like the option to see all of my contacts on every service, and all my friends on Blogcatalog, with an option to create multiple views depending on how much noise I have time for.

There is even enhanced privacy, allowing you to selectively remove items you don’t want shared.

Blogcatalog Enhanced Privacy

When you look at the combined data, it can get a little scary – this is all public data, and it hasn’t taken much to combine it and create an overall personal online profile of all your activities, even those that might normally be slightly more hidden, such as stumbling a friends blog in a topic you might not normally be associated with.

The interface is actually a lot more complete than I first of all realised.

As usual I am trying to give balanced coverage, Mybloglog had an article all to themselves the other day.
Specific dislosure:- Since July 2007 I have had some financial involvement with Blogcatalog as a consultant, though I try hard to give fair and equal coverage to their competitors.

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Comments

  1. says

    Andy, as you say it is in beta and we want to make sure it’s stable as is. We have many more features planned for the social dashboard.

    As far as copying Yahoo, I think it’s pretty obvious that we have not. They don’t even have a product out. The first we heard of their plans was in an email Friday. I wish we could launch such a comprehensive feature in less than a week :) Plus Yahoo’s email doesn’t describe a dashboard feature, it describes a feed on the personal profile page, that shows the world what you are doing. We are in the process of adding that feature to, though as described it’s functionality is minor in comparison.

    The reality is that the BlogCatalog Dashboard has been on the drawing board for quite some time now.

    • says

      Tony you guys never get any sleep

      On the copycat thing I decided it was better to raise it than have someone else do it.

      It is true that they have only announced it 4 days ago, and it is due “in the next couple of weeks”.

      As I pointed out, there was a need for an overview anyway, and that will continue to be enhanced with useful features.

      • says

        Andy, it’s better to raise it now. I thought it’s also better to clarify that we were in development of the social dashboard far ahead of any Yahoo announcement.

  2. says

    I have to admit I like the new BlogCatalog dashboard. But I am starting to get a Facebook vibe. I guess, though, the reason I left Facebook was I got tired of all the idiotic childish stuff like getting random digital objects thrown at me that actually have a pricetag.
    But it is nice. Great for watching the social patterns of other bloggers.

  3. says

    Thanks for the feedback andy. Great as always.

    What did you mean by “delays in updates”? It would of course be impossible to make 80,000 api calls to grab our member’s social data across all their communities every single minute. but we are grabbing api data non-stop.

    • says

      Daniel

      As far as I can see, as I mentioned in an email, you are pulling the data, it is just not appearing.

      A perfect example is Nine – he made 2 updates to Twitter about the Dashboard last night.

      I am mutual friends with Nine on Blogcatalog (not even sure that is required) but for some reason that data doesn’t appear in my timeline.

      It is a bug, not a lack of a feature, though this stuff is going to add some server load to both Blogcatalog and Twitter, though you were pulling the Twitter data anyway, it might not have been so frequently as will be required for this to be really useful. You will probably need to pull all the data (if it is updated) every 30 minutes, or have Twitter push the data to you.

  4. says

    Wow, this is certainly interesting.

    Where do you see monetization in this model?
    – paid biz intel?
    – paid insight and trend reporting
    – ad supported?

    Any idea when this is going “late beta” or ready to launch?

    • says

      I think we are aiming for next week for our full release. It really depends on the feedback form our members and getting the dashboard to a point we feel comfortable with.

      • says

        Daniel, from what I can see so far, though I have no idea what MyBlogLog plan to realease in a couple of weeks time, the bar has been set extremely high.

  5. says

    Interesting, but kind of same old api pulls. I want to see one that says: This blog has had these posts stumbled. Still holding out for that.

    • says

      Stumbleupon doesn’t have an API, so you would have to scrape the hell out of it.

      That is something an individual site might do, but not ideal for a service.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Blogcatalog's Dashboard – the new activity stream is great, I have actually set it as my home page – my friends need to update their profiles so I can see what they are up to, but it gives me a good overview without getting bogged down. In some ways this is similar to what you can achieve with Netvibes or Pageflakes, but without the need to add all the feeds yourself. [...]

  2. [...] BlogCatalog recently added a lot more features to their dashboard that allow you to spy on the social doings of your friends there. I have yet to check out all the features, but it is bound to help you find posts that you can contribute to with your comments. [...]