It seems like everything on the web has turned social as of late. The geek cooler talk seems to be about Social Media and how it will affect the web. Currently, social media on the web goes almost hand in hand with 3rd party web applications. If you want to microblog chances are you don’t have your own, you use Twitter. If you want to share photos, updates, make friends, you don’t host your own social network but instead you use Facebook.
Update: March 2011 = the open source project Diaspora is gaining some major traction. It’s basically an open source social networking application that is far and away more genius than what I have mentioned here. Read my article on Diaspora for more info.
But where does Open Source fit into this equation? It’s gotta fit somewhere, doesn’t it? I am actually one believer who thinks it does. And specifically I think it’s Social Aggregator Applications that are the future of where Open Source and Social Media come together. Let me explain…
What Are Social Aggregator Applications?
Before diving too deep into this conversation, let me first explain to you what Social Aggregators are. They are basically web based applications that aggregate or gather data/information from various 3rd party social applications. A basic idea of this would be a web application that aggregates your Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube etc. information into one location, allowing viewers to see all of that information in once place.
Why Are They Important?
There are a couple reasons these are important. The first and biggest reason being particularly that you get to mashup all of your social activity into one place for your friends, family, or whoever else to see. The second reason coincides with the first in that you get to actually retrieve and maintain this data/information yourself, on your own web server. The data is yours! Am I making sense?
What’s Out There?
In my opinion, I think that people like you and I will continue to use major 3rd party services such as Facebook and Twitter for our Social Media activities because of the communities that exist with them. But it’s my theory that Open Source will begin to take a bigger stake into the development of rich web applications that allow people like you and I to aggregate all of our activity on the web. We are already seeing this. But I do think that these technologies will get better and better. For now, let’s take a look at what’s out there already.
2. WP Lifestream theme for WordPress
One of the interesting themes for WordPress that gets in this Social Aggregation mix is the WP Lifestream theme. With it you get all the benefits of WordPress and with a simpe theme install, you can start aggregating data from places like Facebook, Twitter and more in just seconds.
Storytlr was actually a free 3rd party application that you could sign up to use, but is now Open Source. Storytlr has kind of a more unique way of displaying your information as you can see from the screenshot below.
With Pubwich I have actually spent some time toying with and I have really enjoyed it. A very simple, few file package that’s up and running in seconds aggregating your social info from around the web.
5. P2 Theme for WordPress
The P2 Theme is actually developed by the Automatic team from WordPress. It’s basically a theme for WordPress that turns your blog into a microblog. I use it for aggregating my Tweets from Twitter and thus it serves as a social aggreagtor for me.
There you have it. There are a few more out there, some of which I just decided not to review because I have not used them yet and others I’m probably just not aware of. Anyhow, i’m interested to know from you guys what you think about Open Source and these Social Media Aggregators. What other benefits or downfalls do you see from these types of web applications?