Building social adjacency appliances is just as important

I principally review tools that are explicitly social, in that they implement a medium through which work-related communication, coordination, co-creation, and co-curation occurs. Since these tools are social and modern, that increasingly takes the form of pull, through social following.

But a large part of our day is spent involved in solitary tasks. I am writing this post alone in my office and — at present — I have no chats open. I am heads down. I am in an apparently asocial phase in the ebbing and flowing of work in a social world.

There are a wide variety of tools that I use that are not particularly social, but some tools are implicitly social, and today I want to mention two very different tools that sit at the edge of our social world of work and support it, as social adjacency appliances. This is best introduced by example, I think.


Refresh is an appliance that operates like Tempo (see Tempo is a very smart calendar appliance), in that it fetches information on people prior to meetings, creating so-called dossiers. Here’s the dossier developed for Virginia Sertl, a colleague of mine at GigaOm:

2013-10-17 17.35.19

2013-10-17 17.35.40

Note that this information could be extremely useful prior to a meeting. The app goes beyond the merely personal and pulls in second degree social network information as show here (this example pulled from their website).


So Refresh and applications like it — socially adjacent appliances — don’t form a medium of social interaction, but they pull information about and from that wider network, and help users to triangulate socially.

A smaller, but no less useful appliance is, a Google Chrome plugin from Kwaga, allows a user to select text on a webpag (any webpage) and then click on the plugin icon. The tool analyzes the text, figures out what is a name, what is an email, and so  on, and allows you to save it into your contacts.

I use it frequently to pull info from Twitter profiles:

Screenshot 2013-10-17 18.19.45


The Bottom Line

I am glad to see that attention is being paid to the social adjacency space, and that new apps like and Refresh have pushed that forward.

One of my favorite appliances like this is Rapportive, which is a plugin that replaces Gmail adds with information about the person that  you are emailing, or who has emailed you. Rapportive was acquired by LinkedIn, and zilch has changed in the app since that time, alas.

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Stowe Boyd

Stowe Boyd

Lead analyst Gigaom Research

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