My friend Tim Waugh pinged me yesterday, to invite me to something called Mugshot.
I had a vague recollection of reading something about this last year, but I never looked into it. These days, of course, if it is even vaguely “Web 2.0”-related I just have to play – witness my addiction to Flickr, Plazes, and blogs; and my passing interest in MySpace and Vox (which I’ll talk more about, soon).
Here’s a summary of Mugshot, from the Red Hat magazine last June:
The focus of Mugshot is to foster the creation of live social experiences around entertainment, all in the context of an open project.
This is how it works. You add information about your website, blog, and other networks (Flickr, LinkedIn, Last.fm etc.) to your profile. You build a network. Once you’ve done that, you can install a small application which sits in the system tray. When updates are detected in your network, you get alerted to them via a little pop-up list called the Stacker. The desktop app is currently available for Linux and Windows, and a Mac version is being worked on. Mugshot integrates with your music player (well… some music players) and enables you to share your current playlists on your blog. There’s also something called the Web Swarm – a way of sharing web pages and feeds with friends and groups on Mugshot, via a Firefox bookmarklet.
I’m not sure, really. I’ve barely started to look at it, so my opinion is very flexible. It is easy to use, and pretty cool to see the Stacker pop up new items from time to time. The thing that keeps looping in my mind is that my RSS reader already lets me follow blogs that I’m interested in; if I was a Last.fm user I could share playlists; and if I had a del.icio.us profile, I could share my web links. Mugshot appears to let me integrate all of those interests together. With the proliferation of social networks, integration is certainly helpful… but so far I’ve yet to get really excited about it. Maybe once I start seeing my network grow and things starting to appear in my Stacker more often, I’ll get addicted like my dealer wants me to.
One thing I’m slightly confused by is the concept of Groups. There are groups in Mugshot, based on activities like, say, cooking (!), or being a Firefox user. The idea is that you can share links with interested communities. When I went browsing, though, I found that I was only able to sign-up to a group as a “follower”, rather than as a member, and as a result I can’t share links – I can only do that with people in my network (which is still rather small). I’m sure I’ll figure it all out eventually.
As I said earlier, I was sure that I’d heard of Mugshot before, but I couldn’t remember where. I wondered what kind of interest it had attracted so far, so I did a bit of hunting and pulled up a few articles from when it first surfaced, in the middle of last year. The Guardian’s Technology section spotted it, as did internetnews. Interestingly they both comment on the fact that del.icio.us and Last.fm have been in this space for a while, but the focus is clearly slightly different here. The entertainment angle is something that I see mentioned in most of the articles. From internetnews:
Red Hat doesn’t consider Mugshot a replacement for social networking sites, but rather as a tool that will work with them to add what Red Hat calls “live social experiences” to the mix.
So, I’m going to give this a try. If you’re as much of a magpie for new, cool things as I am… let me know, and I’ll invite you 🙂
And I can hardly finish this post without pointing you at my own Mugshot page.
 Tim is a Red Hat engineer; Linux printing maestro; hacker extraordinaire; one-time elk; and without Tim, to be honest, I would probably have never gotten a decent mark in AO Level Maths… spent so much time with Acorn computers… or become temporarily addicted to south coast radio station Power FM during my mid-teens. The man has a lot to answer for.
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