Ok, maybe it wasn’t while you were sleeping per se, perhaps it was while you were grilling or watching a ball game or mowing the grass. Whatever it was you were doing this past Sunday, at some point Microsoft pulled back the curtain on So.cl, “an experimental research project, developed by Microsoft’s FUSE Labs, focused on exploring the possibilities of social search for the purpose of learning” as per the FAQ on the site itself.

Originally available only to students studying information and design at the University of Washington, Syracuse University, and New York University. So.cl is now open to everyone.

I first heard/read about it via Danny Sullivan over at Marketing Land who posted a story at around 1:30PM EST on Sunday. Danny provides a nice, brief, high-level review of So.cl (pronounced social – cute, huh?) and is somewhat befuddled as to why the world needs another social media outlet, writing he was confused as to “why anyone wants to use this given how many other social networks are out there.”

I would have to strongly echo Danny’s thoughts.

The world really needs another social media network like it needs another reality show.

On Second Thought

Well maybe So.cl is indeed not another social media network as they state right on the So.cl website that they “expect students to continue using products such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other existing social networks, as well as Bing, Google and other search tools. We hope to encourage students to reimagine how our everyday communication and learning tools can be improved, by researching, learning and sharing in their everyday lives.”

And they also go so far as to say “So.cl is not meant to replace existing full-featured search and social networking tools. It is an experimental research project using a minimal set of features which help combine search with the social network for the purpose of learning.”

Of course all this sounds great until you see what’s written on the home page. The above screen shot is just one of five rotating banners.

Here’s another:

Hmm, that copy sure sounds like it’s for a social media network, doesn’t it?

Tiptoe Through The Tulalip

For those who recall, So.cl has been on the radar for quite some time now. In the middle of last year Microsoft “accidentally” revealed the new network, which at the time was being called Tulalip.

So what happened to Tulalip?

Did Microsoft figure it would just be easier for folks to remember So.cl?

Probably had something to do with it.

You’ll notice one other difference between the Tulalip and So.cl homepages and that is the login options. Facebook remains a login choice via So.cl but gone is the Twitter option and in its place is Windows Live.

Kick The Tires

As of yet I have not had time to kick the proverbial tires of So.cl just yet but I will. Would love to hear from folks who have signed up and get their reaction, feedback, etc. of So.cl – the social media network that is not a social media network – at least according to its bio.

Or is it?

Sources: Marketing Land, So.cl

Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review, Steve Olenski is a freelance writer/blogger currently looking for full-time work. He has worked on some of the biggest brands in the world and has over 20 years experience in advertising and marketing. He lives in Philly and can be reached via email,Twitter, LinkedIn or his website.