EB - Elliot Betancourt
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Experiments in Social Networking: Flock

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    Elliot Betancourt

Edit: This post was unfortunately delayed as I wanted to adjust it for the latest version of flock, which is based on Firefox 3 instead of Firefox 2.

I tried flock today, and was pretty impressed with it. I think it has some things that could be improved, but overall, its a very strong product for a large subset of users.

For the uninitiated, Flock is a “social” web browser. Now that I read it. “social web browser” seems like some ridiculously buzz-word laden term, trying to trick some VC into parting with a large pile of money. But it accurately conveys what Flock is (and as an open source project, I don’t think they are trying to con anybody).

Flock is basically a Mozilla based browser (like firefox) with a great deal of social network, and media integration. They do their best to integrate with all of the Web 2.0 heavy hitters: Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Picasa, Piczo, Digg, Pownce, Blogger, WordPress, Delicious, Magnolia, and several more. Its honestly an impressive list of sites. And the Flock development team is constantly working to integrate new sites. For example, their latest beta, of version 1.2 was released just his Monday, and added support for Digg, Pownce and AOL Mail. Of course, if you reread that statement, you will see where the shortcoming for Flock is as well. These social networks are being added on by the core development team. I have not gone over the source code, nor read any developer documentation in depth, so I might be griping about lack of a feature that already exists…but I feel that all of these social networks should be integrated with a sort of plug-in architecture. For instance, I would like to see StumbleUpon integrated with Flock, or perhaps Plaxo, or Reddit, or whatever cool social media hits the scene tomorrow. I realize all of these sites can be supported through extensions and bookmarklets, but wasn’t that the point of Flock?, I mean if I need to install special plugins (outside where all the rest of my social media is) why would I use a different browser?

Enough ranting.

definitely the Media Bar that allows you to search flickr and the sidebar with all of your accounts is a definite bonus along with the ability to post the pages you browse to your various social networking accounts.  At the moment, the target of flock is the hardcore social networker that does social networking for its own sake.  I would say someone who uses social networks to help generate “buzz” around a products, service, site, whatever is still best served by a combination of firefox plugins and bookmarklets.