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July 31, 2008

SocialMedian Opens Up and Launches Beta

More than three months ago, this was the first blog to discuss SocialMedian, the social news service created by former Jobster CEO Jason Goldberg. In the last 100 days, the site has grown to encompass more than 4,000 users, who have themselves created more than 1,000 individual news networks, each tailored to sharing specific topics, driven by keywords, collaborative filters, and bookmarked items.

All this progress took place while the site was under invite-only alpha. As of tonight, the site opens up to all comers, in beta, which should set the service toward what will either be significant growth, or simply short-term curiosity.

SocialMedian is best described as an amalgamation of pieces from FriendFeed, Digg and Del.icio.us. Like in each service, you can bookmark external items, and share them with friends. Like with Digg, each item gets a total count for how many times it is "Clipped". You can see my own page to get an idea of what I've clipped over the last 100 days, who is following my updates, and who I'm following (like FriendFeed does).

SocialMedian's adherence to news topics so far separates it from FriendFeed. You can follow Web 2.0 or Politics or Venture Capital or one of the many news networks that have sprung up, and when you clip items, SocialMedian automatically assigns the item to one or multiple news networks.

But turning on the switch from alpha to beta wasn't just a matter of passing a date. In the last month, as SocialMedian readied for opening in beta, the service added mini-profiles, so you can learn about a person before following them, you can assign someone as a "newsmaker", the equivalent of a faux celebrity, and invite friends using your existing accounts on GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo! and other services. (Being frequently named as a "newsmaker" is what was behind my recent iPhone win)

When joining SocialMedian, if you choose to do so, it helps to register a nickname that matches your Twitter ID, if you have one. This triggers the service to autopopulate other sites, using the Google Social Graph API, and helps to automatically suggest to users who they should follow, based on those people they follow on Twitter and FriendFeed, and the popular friends of those users.

The site officially started development in February, and launched in alpha this April (when I first wrote about it). They've come a long way in just five months, and now that they've opened their doors, it will be interesting to see if they can get something resembling larger momentum. I've come across a lot of social news, aggregation and lifestreaming sites over the last few years, and SocialMedian is on my short list that frequently has me checking in. I'm eager to see how the site changes now that they are starting to get the attention of folks like TechCrunch and CNET.

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