Social networking given the spotlight at Demo

Collaboration tools, ways to manage your social networks shown off on Monday

With social networks such as Facebook and Twitter taking up more and more of our time and attention, the Spring Demo conference was loaded with technology designed to make it easier and faster to share and pull together information.

At the show, which is set up to let companies demonstrate their new products, executives in social networking-related businesses showed off collaborative software, a way to manage social networks and applications that allow users to get real-time alerts from their favorite Web sites.

Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said he's not surprised that companies connected with the social networking arena made such a strong showing at Demo this spring.

"Social networking is driving a huge amount of development in the tech industry," said Olds. "There are thousands of efforts underway to improve social networking and expand its usefulness. What we're seeing is people reaching out and becoming more and more interconnected. Now everyone can be their own publicist and share pretty much anything they want about themselves without limits."

Start-ups have been quick to jump onto this trend and push out related software.

"There are plenty of people taking advantage of this social networking growth," Olds added. "All of this activity adds up to user interest and eyeballs, which drives developers to come up with ways to make it easier and better to do."

One of the companies demoing today was Democrasoft which showed off Collaborize, an online service designed to help users create online communities so members can talk, share ideas, vote and ultimately make decisions.

"Collaborize was conceived because the world's challenges are so large and pressing that they can't be solved just by individuals. We must rely on collective wisdom," says Richard Lang, CEO of Democrasoft. "Everyone... has a need to be heard, something to offer, and can help drive important decisions in real time."

Another company, Fliptop, unveiled two products today -- both aimed at helping people get real-time alerts from their favorite Web sites.

Doug Camplejohn, CEO and founder of Fliptop, explained that someone looking to rent office space with specific dimensions and proximity to public transportation, for example, might today look on a few Web sites and not find what they nees. Using the Fliptop app, they could set up real-time alerts to find a space that meets requirements as soon as it goes on the market.

Fliptop for Publishers is designed as a "Follow" button that can be integrated into the Web site so users can subscribe to receive information about something they're interested in when it becomes available. A second product is the Fliptop Browser Button, which lets users set up real-time alerts for any site they visit.

Genieo demonstrated a desktop application that allows people to create a homepage that will help them manage all of the information coming at them from the social networking sites they use.

Sol Tzvi, CEO and co-founder of Genieo, told the Demo audience that the app adapts to a user's online behavior, filtering blogs, tweets, news stories and Facebook posts to offer suggested items on a platform that resembles an online newspaper page.

Tzvi said the software was aimed at freeing people from wading through the flood of social networking information coming at them every day, and find the information that they would find most valuable.

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Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
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