October 31, 2007

All Out of Spokeo Invites, but Not Out of Updates

That sure didn't take long. After last night's post, offering five Spokeo invites to anyone interested, they are all accounted for. And the company wrote me this evening to say that until they order 30 more servers, "my engineering team would not let me give out more invitations." Dang.

So why all the interest? Just look at what's happening out there. The big rumors are all about how Google is going to team up with a host of "also-ran" social networks for an open social platform, including Ning, Hi5 and the like. There is a lust for a single stop to get all your updates, instead of having a dozen or so bookmarks to troll through on a daily basis.

Spokeo's spokesperson (a.k.a. Spokeosperson) reminded me that I glossed over what he felt to be "the biggest feature" in yesterday's release. Essentially, you can now import your address book from AOL, Hotmail, GMail or Yahoo! and automatically, Spokeo will spider out that person's social networks, dragging in updates from MySpace, Flickr, Pandora and the like.

Though I'd seen the feature yesterday, I hadn't used it, as I don't really use those e-mail accounts all that much - preferring to stick with Mac.com for personal e-mail (not yet supported).

But it does work, as you can see on the right. I input my long-neglected Yahoo! and GMail accounts and started seeing photos of people I hadn't talked to in a few years. More than getting me updated on them, it just reminded me I should clean out my online address books!

And therein lies the rub. I love the idea of Spokeo, and trust me, I'm using it, but they still don't support the networks I have embraced: Facebook and LinkedIn, and they don't support imports from Mac.com or from my Apple Address book (via VCF cards). Until that changes, this admittedly very cool feature won't add me much value.

Regardless, if you are a Yahoo!/Gmail/AOL/Hotmail junkie and you keep your address books tidy, this feature can save you a lot of manual labor for sure. We'll keep waiting and watching for more updates.