I caught wind this past week of a new social network that hit the airwaves on September 14th. Erly.com, started by Eric Feng, the founding-CTO of Hulu, is deeming itself a “new social platform for organizing and sharing your personal content.” It’s attempting to shift our perspectives on social media: while most of our social media experiences have been individually-driven, Erly is attempting to collect social media based on events.
Based on my short time on the site, there appears to be a lot of potential in this, but the website needs to be populated before we can see most of this come to fruition. I predict that with enough members, if someone were to post a Facebook album called “Muse Concert: 12/12/11”, Erly will data mine for other pictures from the same concert and recommend them to each other. Over the weekend I took a short visit to the site and gave it a go.
For starters, it appears that Erly doesn’t want to have much to do with you without a Facebook login. There’s a link you can click about this that explains that Erly doesn’t store passwords and by just using Facebook, there’s no need to learn another login and password. But if you read between the lines it’s also getting its first batch of media with which it can populate the network.
I chose to link my Picasa photo albums to Erly, since I had a couple of topics in mind. First of all, I was going to try to bring together all my albums that included flowers.
I titled my collection “Flowers” and started filling it with photos. But as you can see above, you can also add links, notes, and videos. There’s also a “Request” button with which you can ask Facebook friends to contribute to the collection.
It was really easy to bring in the pictures, but I’m having trouble with cataloging and arranging them for now. It reminds me of sharing photo albums on G+: the pictures are randomly sized and ordered.
Like other social networks, you can edit captions and comment on the assorted pictures. But Erly lets you go a step further, and this might be where it can make its money compared to Facebook and G+: adding links, video and notes to the same collection.
In summary, here are the pros and cons of Erly based on my one-weekend-worth of exploration:
- LOVE LOVE LOVE being able to drop relevant links, notes and videos into the same album as your photos. Facebook isn’t quite there yet with their own albums.
- It’s expected to be event-cataloged, rather than individually-cataloged. So attending rock concerts, NFL games and state fairs will likely be cataloged into “related” photo albums.
- If you don’t mind linking your albums, this is very easy to do.
- Pulling the media into the collection was quick and simple. It’s wonderful bringing together several social networks and photo sharing services.
- Organization needs some work. I was presented with a sample set of Facebook albums to choose from for my “Flowers” collection and it was missing several. There was no way to get to my older albums.
- A search function would be good for finding the media in Picasa and Facebook. If I had been able to search “Flowers” in my Picasa album list, I’d have saved a lot of time assembling the collection. While Picasa has a decent search function for your photo albums, Facebook’s isn’t very good and Erly probably can’t make things any easier.
- The website hung up several times. I got the “X-eyed” computer that Chrome presents when the webpage freezes up. This happened about 5 times while setting up my two collections. I’ll attribute that to growing pains.
- The two-dimensionality of the collections became troublesome. I haven’t maxed-out the size of the collection yet, but I’m wondering how wide I can make a collection. Sliding the zoom bar left and right (at the bottom) wasn’t quite as responsive as I’d like.
- At the moment, if you don’t have a Facebook account, you’re excluded from this experience. Considering about 18% of the population is on Facebook, I doubt they’ll have trouble populating their network.