All posts tagged ‘ThinkUp’

File Under: Social

ThinkUp Wants to Liberate Your Online Social Life

The corporate social web still sucks

Expert Labs, the non-profit organization behind ThinkUp, a web-based data-liberation and analytics application, is rebooting into a commercial entity.

No need to panic if you use ThinkUp to back up your social network life; the application will remain open source and freely available.

But Expert Labs is going away and ThinkUp is refocusing on a larger goal — liberating your online social life from the clutches of corporate web entities.

In its own words the new ThinkUp wants to build “an information network that connects to today’s social networks, but isn’t centralized and dependent on a company or investors.”

That’s not an entirely new idea. Diaspora and some other projects are trying to do the same thing, but ThinkUp is taking a different approach — it wants to build an app first and focus on the user experience rather than the underlying technology.

In fact ThinkUp already is an app that’s pretty close to what it’s aiming to do. ThinkUp is a web-based app that pulls your data out of social silos like Facebook or Twitter and stores it on your own server. You control your own data, and have a record of your conversations potentially long after Facebook, Twitter and the rest have become mere footnotes in the history of the web.

For more on how ThinkUp works and how you can use it be sure to check out our earlier coverage and then grab the code and try it for yourself.

So what of ThinkUp’s new, loftier goals? Is any attempt to replace Facebook doomed to failure? Of course not. Everything is replaceable, just ask MySpace. And ThinkUp believes its approach is different. “Prior attempts have tried to solve this problem based on the assumption that it is a technical challenge,” says ThinkUp’s Knight News Challenge application. “We believe it to be a social one.” ThinkUp’s focus going forward will be on the social and the interface:

We will draw people in through a compelling media site that encourages participation via our decentralized platform… a peer-to-peer network that powers a great media property with broad appeal — imagine if Digg or Reddit were open, decentralized and powered by a network instead of votes.

If you’re curious to know what that might look like, head on over to the ThinkUp proposal for the Knight News Challenge and click the heart icon to “like” it (incidentally if the Knight New Challenge sounds familiar, that might be because it’s also the birthplace of EveryBlock). In the meantime, work on the ThinkUp app continues with a new release that improves the charts and graphs and paves the way for the coming Foursquare support. Check out the ThinkUp GitHub page for more details.

File Under: Social, Web Apps

ThinkUp Adds Color, Depth to Your Social Network Stats

If you’ve ever wanted to archive your social network activity, store in your own database and pull all sorts of interesting visualizations out of it, then the new ThinkUp app is what you’ve been waiting for.

ThinkUp is one part metrics app — tracking which of your posts are most popular, for example — and one part cross-network aggregator. It offers features you won’t find on Twitter or Facebook, like a detailed “conversation view” of exchanges with other users. ThinkUp also acts as a backup for your social network data, pulling it into your own database. It even offers CSV files for creating your own spreadsheets.

Since it archives all of your activity, ThinkUp is an especially useful tool for those of us who like to maintain control over our own data. It takes stuff that would otherwise only live in the various networks’ silos and copies it to a database where we’re the administrator. So if we want to ditch Twitter or Facebook in some distant future where those companies start acting against our best interests, we don’t lose the massive stores of updates, links, photos and, most importantly, friend relationships we’ve already set up. And in the meantime, it lets us have fun with all the data it’s archiving.

Although ThinkUp is still a beta release, we took the code for a spin and found it to be stable enough to be useful. At the moment, it only supports Twitter and Facebook data, but ThinkUp plans to add additional social networks in the future, including LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube and Google Buzz. If you’d like to try out the limited beta, head over to Github and grab the code. You may notice it’s a project published by Gina Trapani, the former Lifehacker editor who is now an independent author, blogger and programmer.

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