Oh, man, I have such a hangover.
I drank a little too much Kool-Aid at the Web 2.0 party over the past few years and my head is killing me.
I puked my identity all over the internet at sites like Clipmarks, Voono, Zoomclouds, Hotpads, and Yorz. I blindly bantered at Twitter, WordPress, and Xing. I danced the night away with other sites that are now Sedo fodder and shall remain nameless.
And now I have a problem: how to keep track of the various accounts I have scattered across this wide, wide web like so many illegitimate children.
Fortunately, Plaxo.com has the ultimate Web 2.0 afterparty: Pulse.
But first, some background on Web 2.0 for the uninitiated.
More than an industry catch phrase, Web 2.0 was an evolutionary period the web just went through.
Sort of like the hippie movement, it was all about overdosing on Ajax, interaction, and meaningless personal videos — the web equivalent of drugs, sex, and rock’n roll.
And, just as the 60s produced a lot of really bad music, Web 2.0 bore down on the internet with more crap than anyone shall ever be able to measure.
Fortunately, just as memorable acts like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan rose above the acid-stoked din of a few decades back, Web 2.0 managed to spit out some sites that may actually prove interesting (useful, even!) over the long term.
Google’s YouTube, for example, is working hard to reinvent how we distribute and consume video.
And Facebook wants us to redefine our social practices.
Yelp is helping us share our collective opinions on local businesses.
Meanwhile, CBS’ last.fm seeks to socialize the musical interests of everyone.
Ironically, however, despite Web 2.0’s emphasis on user interaction, none of these sites interact with one another very well. (Or maybe not so ironic: less than 1% of visitors to Web 2.0 sites ever did more than browse.)
Each site is effectively an island.
So, even if you and your friends engage with just the few sites I mention above, it’s a lot of work keeping track of each other’s videos, photos, notes, and über-trivial brain farts.
That’s where Plaxo’s Pulse comes in. It builds bridges between all these disparate sites.
You should try it out.
The process is simple.
Head to Plaxo.com and set up an account (yes — just one more!). Then enter information about all your past Web 2.0 flings into their Pulse section.
So, if you post a video to YouTube, Pulse tracks and displays it. If you add a note to Facebook, it gets synced into Pulse. And just after you post vacation pics on Flickr, they will be displayed within Pulse.
The result is a fascinating audit trail of personal online activity from each web site you engage with.
Now, get your friends to go to Plaxo and set up Pulse. Then “connect” with them in Plaxo. (Or to thwart the system, just enter their various web accounts into your own Pulse account, no password needed — sneaky!)
Your Pulse page on Plaxo becomes a intermingling stream of the simultaneous online activities of you and your friends.
In a way, Pulse is like a living, breathing collection of personal bookmarks.
Unfortunately, you still have to traverse the web to post to Facebook, Picasa, and the rest of them (though you can directly update your Twitter status from Pulse).
But Plaxo has cleverly set up sharing and interaction features within Pulse.
So once it becomes the centre of your online universe, you may just give up on the others. Maybe.
For survivors of the Web 2.0 era such as myself, Pulse feels, well, cushy and safe, sort of like a gated community.
It makes you feel like a Yuppy trying to repress an acid flashback by settling into the sofa and watching bootleg footage of ancient Zeppelin concerts on your plasma TV.
Pulse lets us live the Web 2.0 life as mature, respectable netizens, in the spirit of an old Talking Heads song: there’s a party in my mind, and I hope it never stops.
But to be honest with you, that’s one party I’m glad is over.
Originally published in the Yukon News on Friday, March 5, 2008.