2007 was the year of platforms, and I'm just about ready to call 2008 the year of social aggregators, or services that help you group together and manage all the social sites you're a part of. Opening up (in private beta) on Monday is Socialthing, a new contender that joins the ranks of Plaxo, MyBlogLog, Spokeo, Iminta, Profilactic, Friendfeed, and Facebook in giving you a single place to aggregate and interact with all that information in one, centralized feed.
As with some of the others in this space, Socialthing takes your log-ins and usernames from each service and grabs data from each throughout the day. I give my kudos though, if you're already signed into any of the services, authenticating them in your browser doesn't even require a single keystoke--this is going to be incredibly helpful when you're adding in several dozen services at a time. It's also smart enough to seek out all the people who are your friends or contacts from each service without you having to add them on your own. It's a great feature that kept competitor FriendFeed from being as easy to jump into immediately.
In addition to its desktop browser experience, Socialthing has a slick-looking iPhone app. It looks and functions similar to Facebook and Plaxo's iPhone apps, with tabs and large streams of eyeball-friendly data. Unfortunately, it doesn't perform as well, or do as much as either of the two competitors, which double as massive, portable phone books with up-to-date contact information. Socialthing's CEO Matt Galligan says the company has much more in store for the iPhone app, including ways to post a message to several services at the same time. In its current form you can post to Twitter and Pownce with the same message. Facebook is being added later tonight.
Despite having the lowest number of integrated services (see chart below) Galligan tells me the team is on track to add about 200 others in the coming months. He believes Socialthing's implicit understanding that you don't want to track down people you're friends with will draw people who are using these services to make social data aggregation easier. To help that cause, the service will soon be adding a discovery feature that will automatically show data from networks your friends are a part of, even if you're not. This means that if a friend of yours is using a service you're not familiar with, you'll still see whatever he or she posted--something that might help you discover new sites. Friendfeed has something similar, and it's definitely helpful.
Socialthing was nice enough to give at least 1,000 Webware readers access to the service starting on Monday morning. You can sign up on this page with the invite code CNET.