Outlook 2010's half-baked social networking tool

Alternatives like Gist do a better job providing one-stop access to the many social networks you may belong to

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Fortunately, other tools can do what Social Connector can't. One is Gist, which goes beyond the mindset of "it's who you know" and into the realm of "it's what you know about who you know."

One example is a businessperson who recently emailed me. Because I had the Gist connector for Outlook installed, I could quickly see in a side pane what that person has been up to recently. Gist told me his recent Twitter tweets, any recent news about him, blog posts, Facebook info, LinkedIn info, recent correspondence between the two of us (including attachments, meeting appointments from my calendar, and email connection), and anything else it could find on him. while also incorporating news from more than 20 million blogs and another 50,000-plus news sources. With Gist, I can quickly request a dossier on a person and get all that information in one page to review before making a decision on where our relationship is going next from a business perspective.

I'll be honest: I didn't like the idea of the Outlook Social Connector or Gist, but after working with both for a month, I can see the potential of the Outlook Social Connector as it matures and as enterprises deploy SharePoint 2010. Now, I cannot live without my Gist connector. I find myself using it all the time because it doesn't require additional work. I simply look over to my Gist pane while working on email and pick up the latest information about people I correspond with.

It's apparent that both Microsoft and Gst are evolving their products. Gist just released an iPhone app, with an Android app coming soon, and it has plug-ins for Lotus Notes, Outlook, and Gmail (one of Google's new "contextual gadgets"). Whereas the Outlook Social Connector is locked into Outlook 2010, the Gist tools can plug in to multiple platforms.

There are other connectors besides Outlook Social Connector and Gist, of course. What have you been working with? Do you consider these types of connectors to be more social networking oriented or do you see an enterprise value to their use? Leave a comment to let us know.

This article, "Outlook 2010's half-baked social networking tool," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of J. Peter Bruzzese's Enterprise Windows blog and follow the latest developments in Windows at InfoWorld.com.

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