So, back at Web 2.0, I was one of the people who got a Wallop invite after the presentation from Microsoft Research. The first night it was horribly buggy for non-Windows computers, but I guess we all complained enough that they got on that, so it works fine in Safari now.
They’ve got a few notable features that really should have been done earlier (and a few that will likely be implemented by some other services shortly), the single most obvious one being built in aggregation of your blog.
By parsing your feed directly into Wallop, I don’t even have to create new content specifically for them. Blogs are already a community in themselves, with their links between people, and they already express your interests, so it seems blazingly stupid that every SNS hasn’t done this since day one. I haven’t even logged in to Wallop in a fair chunk of time and yet anybody who looks me up on it has fresh content.
Another feature, one that (I hope) will soon be implemented by Flickr, is that of linking people in photos to their profiles. Just as Flickr allows you to add notes to a photo, so does Wallop, but it also lets you specify that a person in a photo is another person on the network. This means when you see the connections between you and another person, photos you are both in show up as a connection, which they obviously are. I’ve read a few comments in Flickr that this functionality will be coming in soon, so I hope those aren’t just rumors.
The third, and I think really the most important, feature in Wallop is implicit relationships. This is what we have all been talking about for a long time now. People grow into your network based on your interactions with them through Wallop. Take the photo example, if two people are in the same photo together it is pretty likely that they have interacted, so give their connection a point. If one comments on the other’s blog post, give their connection another point. If they link to each other in their respective blogs, give them a few more points. This is the only way to build a meaningful network of relationships.
Gone are the days of adding people as friends, acquaintances, ex-girlfriends, and adopted children, the services of tomorrow will watch what you do and grow with you. This is how every service I have ever imagined was supposed to work, and while I am disappointed that I didn’t do it first, I am glad that it is about to become mainstream enough that it will truly begin to happen.
Since the only community site I currently really participate in is Flickr, I hope they keep innovating towards these goals, because Wallop, while innovative, wouldn’t hold a candle to Flickr if Flickr had a couple of those features. While Flickr doesn’t really seem to be aiming towards becoming an SNS, they have the perfect hook, and, once everybody is using them for their photos, they will have all the data.