It is a strange irony that a wall message, a tweet or a scrap sounds sweeter than a chime of a doorbell. Call it the social networking phenomenon. We have all been touched by it and for me, at least personally, social networking has proved to be a succor (not sucker!) in trying times. And in happy times too as I have managed to reach out and connect with long lost friends and make new ones across the globe.
If you take stock of your own friends list you will surely find that at least half of them have come through the lost and found power of social networks. And if you take stock again, you will find that our online habitat is mostly a few of these social networking sites and of course, the omnipresent browser.
What I would do without the browser and those little byte sized Firefox add-ons which make it a whole lot richer. Using Firefox outfitted with the right “find friends” add-ons, I can home in any of the social networking sites and hobnob with fellow groupies.
So let’s head over to the Mozilla Add-ons gallery and see what’s in store for us who like to schmooze over bandwidths.
It’s like a master list”¦a who’s who of search engines. The add-on installs as a toolbar. There are 160 of them with almost 70 that can be used from the toolbar itself. The layout is categorized into different types of searches. So after using it a few times one shouldn’t have a problem dropping down to the right search engine.
Though not specifically for “˜searching friends’, there are a lots of them which help you hunt for them over the net. There are basically two ways to search – blue icons mark the ones you can use directly from the toolbar; green icons are the directory lists for which the shortcut is given in the add-on.
The list of searches is long and varied – reverse lookups, social search, people search, public records search et al. apart from generic web searches.
Buddyfetch is an experimental “find friends” Firefox add-on that searches across many social networks IMs and dating sites. It gets added as an additional search engine in the search engine bar. You can search for buddies based on common interests, gender, age, language or location. Use the filters and single or combination keywords to find people after your own heart.
This one is for the serious guy, not for the tween, the teen or the tweet. LinkedIn is the world’s most popular social network for the professional. If you are one among the 45 million members from a cross-section of 150 industries then you are sure to find a likeminded friend or contact here. The Firefox search add-on makes the job a tad easier by adding a search engine to the Firefox search bar. Not very impressive but its simple functionality lets you search from the bar.
You can also keep an eye open for the updated version of thewhich doesn’t seem to be working for Firefox 3.5x yet.
The Facebook toolbar brings the social networking site and your circle of friends to your browser. The toolbar lets you do your thing like search and connect with friends, receive notifications and share content. You can set your status via the toolbar and get the same of your friends. Upload photos and quick link to all areas of Facebook. If you spend most of your time poking and defacing your friends walls then this one is for you.
This add-on is less about finding a friend but more about keeping them. Though the add-on installs at a slightly hefty 1MB, it offers real time benefits for the Facebook and Twitter buffs. The interface almost resembles a media player with streaming real time updates (photo and text) of activities in the two social sites.
To complete the effect there’s a play-pause button too. You can post, tweet and reply from the toolbar. Instant TinyURLs makes sending interesting links easy as a tweet. The settings panel lets you configure the Twitter update frequency and other sundries like the look and the scrolling style.
This very unobtrusive experimental add-on lets you send status updates, notes and URL links synchronously to multiple social networks and services, like Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, Delicious and identi.ca. It also displays updates from them in notification pop-ups, for real-time communication with friends. It installs near the status bar and a right click on the icon opens up all its features.
Yes, this one is almost the web equivalent from the peek-a-boo game we have all played as kids. This is a search engine enhancement as it shows the people behind the search results. That is the guy who is associated with the site.
According to the developers it works with most of the search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Live.com, Ask.com, and Clutsy.com. The add-on installs as a status bar and updates the info with each site that’s loaded on that page. Clicking on the small profile pics next to the search results or the bar takes it to another detailed info page.
It looks like a work in progress as numerous well known blogging names were not displayed. You can also check out profile listings from the homepage of PeekYou where you can search by name, location and tag.
This add-on also does a similar “˜unmasking’ job as the last one. Identify though goes one step ahead and collates together available profile info on the man behind a website or blog from many different sources and lists the other social sites where he can be found. All it takes are two keystrokes once a page loads – On Windows it’s Alt – i. Of course, expect hits and misses so do double check the info always.
If friendships are forged around common interests then a browser add-on like Kutano is a big help. Kutano basically connects the webpage you are browsing to the comments it’s generating in Twitter-space. This add-on won’t get your old friends but will certainly help make a few new ones. Kutano opens up on a sidebar and lists all tweets and discussions on related to that site/page”¦whether it’s good or bad. Kutano lets you respond and start discussions yourself. You can share the discussions in Facebook and MySpace with a click.
I won’t say too much about Yoono as Wez has shown in detail how to Stay Socially Connected Online With Yoono . Suffice to say that this add-on acts like a central command center for social connectedness. Connect with your buddies on social networks and on IMs like Google Talk Yahoo, MSN or AIM. After log-in you can start searching for friends who are on Yoono by using an address book of Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or AOL, or simply by their Yoono username.
These ten Firefox add-ons are not only about searching for friends old and new using the power of social networking. They are also add-ons which make social networking more seamless by bringing together the different services under a common umbrella. They also underscore the one universal fact – it’s easier to make friends than it is to keep them. Let’s hope these add-ons add to the heart that beats for a friend.
Has your social connectedness hinged around any of these add-ons?
Image Credit: Striatic