Social Enterprise

Poll: Is Microsoft's an idea with a bright future?

Microsoft has stealthily released a nascent social network designed to be used by students as a collaborative learning tool.

I am a big fan of the Scientific Method and the concept of experimentation to prove, or sometimes disprove, a hypothesis. So, I am not going to criticize Microsoft for their recent experiment in social networking they call (pronounced social). However, I will say that I am curious as to exactly what hypothesis they are testing with this social endeavor.

A new way to learn

Reading the FAQ reveals that Microsoft's idea is that this nascent social network is designed to be used by students as a learning tool. Its stated function is to provide a place where students can share and learn from each other. The one aspect that raises an eyebrow from me is this paragraph from the FAQ.

Unless you mark it as "private", your search results, and any other data you post to may be viewed by all other users. In addition, we will make data that was publicly posted on broadly available for use by other entities and individuals.

Under the blanket concept of students and learning, I am not saying that making all searches public is a bad thing, but it does limit what the service should be used for. As Microsoft makes clear, is not designed to be a replacement for Facebook or Twitter, instead it is a supplement with the niche mission of serving student-collaborative learning.

What is the future?

So, I get the idea, and on the whole it sounds like a reasonable, if elusive, aspiration. However, I am not sure there is really a market for such a thing, which is perhaps why Microsoft released in such a stealthy manner. Do you think Microsoft is on to something with its service? Is there a market for a separate collaborative student-learning social network? Is destined to be a perpetual experiment that never graduates to a real product? Let's collaborate on it and form a consensus.

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Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to,, and TechRepublic.

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