Talking Tech Friday – Plaxo

Serendipity has been good to me this past week, so I have quite a list of new topics to cover.  Today, however, I’m going to review an old, but new-to-me service: Plaxo!

What is it?

Plaxo has been around since 2003 and has gradually evolved from just an contacts and calendar manager to a full-fledged social network aggregator.  You can sync your email (including Outlook) contacts and calendar, add information from a variety of social networks and use it on your mobile devices – with a variety of different privacy settings.

How does it work?

To register for an account, you need an email address, password, and then some basic personal information (name, country, birthday, and gender – why those last two, I don’t know).  They send a confirmation email to the address you entered, and once you confirm, you’re set to begin.

Like most social services, you can then search your various email contacts to see if anyone you know is already using Plaxo, and gives you the option to invite others to join.

Next, you set up your profile – you can choose to enter your employer and your education history, and select other services to track in Plaxo.  Plaxo can aggregate content from a wide variety of other social networking sites, including Google Reader, Flickr, Bloglines, MySpace,, Facebook, Bebo, Yahoo! 360, Twitter, Slideshare, Youtube, Vimeo, Amazon, Netflix, and Goodreads, to name a few.

As you create your profile, you can specify who is allowed to see what content – everyone, only your contacts, or even subdivide your contacts by business, friends, and family, or completely private so only you see it. I particularly like this granularity – I try pretty hard to keep my business and private social networks separate when I can.

You’ll also want to go to your profile settings to customize when you receive notifications, and specify other privacy settings.  You can also set up folders for your content, create a badge for your webpage, download a desktop notifier, and filter content.  In order to sync your calendar and contacts with Outlook, you’ll need to download a toolbar to your computer.  Plaxo recently partnered with SimplyHired to bring the job searching and posting functionality of that website within Plaxo.  You can adjust your settings to receive job notifications from SimplyHired that match your specified keyword and location search parameters.

As you can see, Plaxo offers a lot of customization and features, but that does mean it takes a while to set things up. Once you have it all set, though, I can see that it could be a very useful aggregator for your online content and contacts.  I think I’ll have to use it for a while to really be able to pass judgement.

Possible Library Uses

Two things come to mind – if you have created a variety of library social networking accounts (such as Flickr, Twitter, a blog, etc), creating a Plaxo account and badge to manage it all would be very useful and be a way to save staff time tracking activity on these accounts.

Secondly, it’s a great personal tool to recommend to library staff to aggregate their own networking information and storing contacts and calendar information.

Any other ideas?  Have you used Plaxo?



~ by Anali on March 6, 2009.