I’ve been busy floating around the wide-open spaces of the internet checking out some of the newer sites and tools available – the view has been amazing!
The most recent one I have discovered is Bloom.com. This is a virtual, social makeup counter where the visitor can enter their skin/hair type and colorings and the site will recommend the best products in its store for you. The thing that makes Bloom.com so interesting is that it is a twist on the typical configurator, including member input/data to help suggest products. While the site claims to sell over 150 of the top beauty brands, I wasn’t able to find some of my standby-favorites. That said, I think their magic is working on me because instead of being completely put off by this fact, they have instead piqued my interest on these other products/brands. I have to imagine that this type of configurator will be much more common in the future, in fact Amazon.com works much in this way now – it just isn’t as commonplace across the web.
My next newest and favorite is Pinterest.com. At first blush, I wasn’t blown away with this site – I simply thought, “Huh…nice.” If my experience is any indication, this site is a dark horse that has some real potential. The premise is simple: you have some virtual Pinboards named by topic (dream home, places I’d like to visit, etc.) and you either scroll through others’ “pins” (photos to represent a website, concept or idea) to “re-Pin” to your Pinboards. Or, you can add a “Pin It” link to your browser to grab photos from anywhere on the web to add to your collection. The thing that I think really makes this social site is that it is completely scalable, easily personalized, and because of the ease of either re-pinning or liking someone else’s pin, you get lots of feedback from fellow Pinners. Also, it has the casual “follow” model of Twitter and Google+ where anyone can follow anyone, and you can choose to follow back. Similar to Twitter, they also suggest Pinners with similar interests to yours to follow off the bat, so you’re getting new and different ideas flowing into your feed. Lastly, its integration with Facebook and Twitter and the ability to post your pin in either place is a great feature too. They seem to have really thought of everything when putting this site together and it is wonderful to behold. Whenever I’m feeling like my creativity or energy has waned, all I need to do is spend 10 minutes on Pinterest and I am revitalized. There are so many great photos, ideas, humor, etc., it is just a never-ending fountain of things to stimulate the imagination. I don’t know if it is a passing phase, but right now, I can’t get enough!
I have also been exploring Google+, which has been gradually creating more buzz as time goes on. I’ve been waiting for something to happen and discover/witness its potential for some time now, but so far it has been an anticlimactic waiting game. I was on Google+ early before it was released to the public, so my first experiences felt like a few of my friends and I running through a brand new house checking out all of the new features and rooms. I like it, it’s great – but even though it is now fully released, there’s something missing…people and activity. Maybe these things simply take time; it’s still early, but so far, ho-hum. It seems like people have built the Facebook habit and I think many aren’t interested in learning anything new…at least not yet. I prefer the Google+ format, and have been pondering really getting into Google (using the calendar, Google docs), but there just isn’t a compelling enough reason to make the switch. I have had to remind myself to go there regularly, which isn’t a good sign. It seems like the right things are in place, but progress feels sluggish. The inevitable latest phase of adding corporate pages into the site are a good way to help generate more buzz, and that has only happened in the last few weeks, so maybe I’m just impatient. Time will tell.
I wanted to mention Klout.com. I’m not sure how I feel about this one. A person signs up, indicates which social media sites he/she participates in, and then in turn gets a “Klout score”. A Klout score is an ongoing measure of your online presence/communication style and your true reach to the public. First of all, I would think that the audience is limited. For people like me who work on the internet/media and strive to be a known professional in their field, it probably is the most interesting/relevant. The other thing is that you are receiving your score from this site – and what kind of clout does Klout really have? Does it really matter what this site thinks of you? Does anyone even care about your Klout score now or in the future? It is a little addictive for me, because even though I’m not sure if I care what Klout thinks, I definitely like it when my score is up and am at least slightly bummed when it drops even a point or two. The fun on this site comes from comparing your scores to others (friends from Facebook/Twitter) and in the future, there is the promise of it indicating your specialties (topics) which I’ll be curious about. For now, I’ll just have to just hang onto my score and hope it’ll mean something someday.
Lastly, I wanted to highlight my two more recently-found favorite websites: Visual.ly and TheOatmeal.com. Visual.ly is a site of various informational charts and visual aids on every topic imaginable. Some are very relevant to the type of work I do and could come in handy for surveying the digital landscape. Others are just funny or interesting – “A History of Beer” was one I had found not too long ago. The Oatmeal is a collection of cartoons and charts created/drawn by Matthew Inman. He’s got a biting, sarcastic wit and intolerance for improper use of English, which is a perfect fit for me. As soon as a new post goes up, I am back on the site to check out his latest addition. Love. It.