We’re mixed on the whole “social internet thing” with Twitter about as far as we’ll go with the phenomenon. But there is little doubt that there is a certain demographic who want to engage with others on just about everything these days. Microsoft’s Socl (www.so.cl) project is a research effort to see what works and what doesn’t. While it’s not “public” yet meaning it’s not an official service, it just got closer to it today.

This morning, Microsoft tossed open the doors to anyone who wants to jump on board the previously invite-only service. We received an email via Outlook.com asking us to join the effort and since it uses your Microsoft Account, getting your “Me Page” is quite simple...

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The service, once known at 'Tulalip', is well designed and eye catching, though Microsoft is not too clear on whom they are targeting with this project. Mary Jo Foley over at ZDNet does a good job of putting it all into context with its history:

“Microsoft officials have described Socl as a kind of mash-up of social-networking and search that is designed to get the learning communities to start thinking about how to use collaboration technologies in new ways. And according to the Softies and contrary to popular rumors, Socl is not an attempt to take on Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler or Pinterest.

Socl combined ideas the FUSE Labs teams have pioneered in some of their other experimental projects, like Montage (a photo collage app) and Kodu (game programming). Microsoft built Socl using TypeScript, its superset of JavaScript.”

With the focus on “parties”, search and following, we’d say this looks a lot more like Google+ than a Tumblr or Facebook. But like that service which has struggled for an identity, Socl too may have problems entering the finicky social-networking world as people have shown they only want so many services to log into.

We’re not too sure if we’ll be using Socl but if Microsoft can tie in their other services e.g. Xbox (Music and Video), Skype/Messenger and more, it could potentially be leveraged as a powerful too.  In that sense, we support the “research project” gusto behind it instead of dictating to peeps what they want.

Oh and Microsoft, throw in a Windows Phone and an RT app in there and maybe we’ll use it more, ya dig?

Let us know in comments what you think of Socl and whether you’ll use it or not.

Source: Microsoft (email) and ZDNet