A few hours ago, Six Apart announced a new social networking application: Motion. Built on top of Movable Type, Motion is billed as a DIY social network, as well as an aggregator for content from around the web. Motion allows you to create your own microblogging community with a simple posting interface for quickly blogging images, video, links, and more. It uses the Action Streams plugin to aggregate your users’ content from other social networks onto their profile page. And it supports Google Friend Connect, Facebook Connect and OpenID for signing in to comment.
I had an opportunity to try out a private beta of Motion. I have not installed the public beta that was released yesterday, so I can’t say what, if anything, has changed from what I tried. It was definitely a beta, so I wouldn’t advise putting it into production. I would suggest playing with it, though — this product has a lot of potential.
For those that have used Movable Type, you’ll be very familiar with Motion. Motion is:
- Movable Type 4.25
- The Motion template set
- Action Streams 2.0
Installation is just the same as installing MT. Once you’re up and running, visitors to your site can register, confirm their email address, and start posting. They can add their profiles from other social networks, such as Twitter or Flickr. They can also “follow” other members of the community — though I haven’t figured out what that does, besides add them to the list of people you follow. Non-registered users can leave comments, as long as they sign-in through one of the supported services.
One of the features I was most excited about is the Sentiment Tracker. As the Motion page explains it, you can:
Create a private, custom action aggregator to track sentiment and glean intelligence from conversations around the web through action streams.
This sounds great, since tracking what’s said about your business is a full-time job at some companies. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any documentation at the time, so I didn’t know how to set one up. Reading the beta documentation that was just released, I’m still a bit puzzled. It appears you create a user, then add social networking profiles that are search terms instead of user names. I’m not clear how this works, but if it does it will be great for monitoring keywords that are important to your business.
One other thing to note: Motion, for now at least, only supports static publishing. Profile pages are dynamic, but most other pages are static. Six Apart recommends Publishing Queue as the best way to keep your site current and avoid scaling issues. I’m a fan of static publishing, but it seems like dynamic should at least be an option for those that want it.
I did run into some bugs. I could upload a profile avatar, but I never got it to show up on my profile. And some of the Action Streams — Flickr in particular — do not seem to be pulling in actions. Again, this is beta software. And not even the latest beta, at that. Hopefully, these problems will be solved soon, if they haven’t already.
After playing with it briefly, my impression of Motion is generally positive. I can definitely see uses for it beyond social networks, too — as a membership directory, for example. Hopefully, the final release will be a powerful tool for building your own social network.
Whether or not it will be a success for Six Apart is anyone’s guess. Your average blogger doesn’t need their own social networking community. Lots of businesses, however, are looking for products like this to help them connect with their users. Success may depend on Six Apart’s ability to convince those businesses that Motion is the product they’re looking for.
What do you think? Is Motion something you’re interested in trying? Let us know in the comments.
Billy Mabray is a web developer in the publishing industry. Over the years, he's written with and developed for just about every blogging platform there is. Blogging is in his blood, but the doctors think he can live a normal life anyway.