web 2.0

ma.gnolia (i hope this pun.ctuati.on tre.nd goes away soon)

i’ve been doing some beta testing of ma.gnolia lately.

you know. I really wanted to like it, but somehow I don’t.

its very much like del.icio.us, in that its a ‘social bookmarking’ site.

ma.gnolia is much, much more beautiful (although, there are a few places where the interaction design is a little… surprising), but then, I think it was Mark Pesce who said that del.icio.us was the most useful tool with the ugliest interface on the internet. (and I’m sure he’s not the only one who’s said that either).

ma.gnolia also pushes the social thing a little harder, with groups and people taking a more significant role in the site structure and functionality. in that respect, its a little more like Flickr than Del.icio.us – your access to interesting content (on that site) is structured around your relationship with other users and groups of likeminded people.

given that its only in beta phase, so not heavily populated, and that I didn’t know anyone else who was beta testing… this didn’t really work for me. In fact, it just made me feel kind of sad and lonely (sob). And made me wonder why I would want to ditch del.icio.us for Ma.gnolia. Frankly, there’s no incentive for me to do so at the moment. Except the prettiness… and that’s not really enough.

I kept expecting to see a way that I could keep del.icio.us and ma.gnolia accounts in synch with each other. And I was hoping for more interesting functionality. I guess the groups aspect does solve one of the problems that I have with de.licio.us at the moment, which is that it kind of falls down as a collaborative tool because you can’t see who is adding what links to the account (you have to share a log in)… and its interesting to see who is adding the links, it adds context and meaning to their inclusion. So that’s a good thing. I’m not sure if you can have private groups on ma.gnolia… but if you could then perhaps I’d use it rather than de.licio.us when compiling links collaborative for projects. It might impress the clients a little more too, due to its prettiness.

Overall though, there’s not enough that’s different and better about Ma.gnolia to make me want to jump ship from del.icio.us. Perhaps that will change once there’s a critical mass on board… it will be interesting to see where all the cool kids choose to play.

meanwhile, i’m going to refuse to write anything more about sites that have such annoying punctuation all the way through their names. it annoys the crap out of me.

6 thoughts on “ma.gnolia (i hope this pun.ctuati.on tre.nd goes away soon)

  1. Thanks for the review! These are still early days for us, of course, but it’s good to have honest feedback about how we’re doing. Lots can change in Ma.gnolia, but the name will be staying.

    A word on the name – these days it can be hard to get the domain name you want when the name of a product means something to you, so we decided to break up the name instead of wrestle Exxon Mobile for magnolia.com. Also, we like to give a nod to del.icio.us through our name, as we have a lot of respect for what they’ve done to advance social bookmarking.

  2. I should also add that we didn’t mean to make you feel lonely! Contacts are a one-way street, meaning you don’t need to know someone to make them your contact – you just have to find their bookmarks interesting! So if you get in there and don’t see anyone you know, you can start to find some interesting folks by first adding them as a contact, and maybe later sharing bookmarks of common interest or inviting them to a group or two.

  3. oooh. ok. now i feel a little special. thanks for getting back to me Todd.

    nice to see that the guys at Ma.gnolia are actually reading what’s being written about them and not just getting excited about having lots of buzz.

    Todd is right about the contacts thing – I can add other people as a contact without them having to add me as a contact. In fact, I’ve already done this, after I happened across a guy from Belgium (i think) who, but the looks of his bookmarks, is a developer looking to move to Australia for a while. So I added him as a contact.

    Still no one has added me as a contact *sigh* and the Belgium guy probably thinks I’m a stalker….

    This is the sad and lonely thing. But that’s not Ma.golia’s fault. You can’t program social networking, you can only faciliate it. I just haven’t found my Ma.gnolia friends yet!

  4. Leisa, I just added you as a contact in Ma.gnolia. I think we’re all trying to figure out the contact thing (especially since it works differently in all these social apps), and I did feel a little strange adding you as a contact.

    Maybe it should work the other way on social apps; right now, your prospective friends have to find you. I wonder if, ultimately, social apps will all work like Facebook and we will approve users that want to befriend us. Or, if not having to approve friends is the grown-up version of the Facebook/Friendster friend collection (she-who-has-the-most-friends/contacts-wins)–roughly comparable to needing to approve every blog comments that binds some bloggers.

    Anyway, the punctuation trend makes me laugh (it’s so very postmodern—ah, the fragmentation). See you on Ma.gnolia.

  5. yay! thanks for adding me as a contact Kristen :)

    I’ve been thinking about this some more and thinking about how I settled into Flickr. I’ve been using Flickr for about a year now I think (maybe not quite) and to start off with I didn’t add *anyone* as a contact. This was an artifact of my issues with having a ‘digital identity’ that I’ve talked about in another post.

    Next, I discovered a few ‘real life’ friends who were using Flickr, and I added them.

    Its only been quite recently that I’ve started using the Contact tool as I think its was designed to be used… to help keep track of people who take and post the kinds of pictures I like to look at – almost like subscribing to an RSS feed…

    I think that the potential for reciprocity has been a bit of a stumbling block for me… like adding someone as a contact is asking them if they want to be friends with you, and them not adding you is a bit of a rejection.

    Perhaps what we need is two different kinds of contacts – like friends and acquaintance. Where friends have that reciprocity thing going on, and acquaintances are, for the timebeing at least, just like bookmarks.

    what do you think?

    A couple of other questions for anyone in the know:

    a) is it possible to message someone on Ma.gnolia yet? I’ve joined the book review group, but can’t seem to post any links to the group… and I wanted to get in touch with the guy who is managing the group to ask him how I can link a review… but how?

    b) do you think it would be cool if you could add comments to links, kind of like you’d add comments to someone’s photo in Flickr? I’m thinking of how I have my del.icio.us links posted to my website every day and I always need to annotate them a little to explain the context that I’m interested in them.

    meanwhile, I’m off to go make some more friends/contacts on Ma.gnolia :)

  6. > a) is it possible to message someone on Ma.gnolia yet? I’ve joined the book review group, but can’t seem to post any links to the group… and I wanted to get in touch with the guy who is managing the group to ask him how I can link a review… but how?

    This is such a good point, and several people have given us the same kind of cue – we need more ways to interact with each other in Ma.gnolia! Direct messaging and other types of conversations are very big and bright on my radar right now, so look for something after launch next week!

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