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Microsoft's social lab does 'the impossible'

The, er, personal Tweetbook index

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Web 2.0 Expo Microsoft has unveiled an experimental online service that pools "social" content from various and sundry online sources, including Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, and Redmond's own Bing search engine.

Developed by Microsoft's Future Social Experiences (FUSE) Labs - the research outfit launched by Ray Ozzie last fall - the service is officially known as Spindex. But FUSE general manager Lili Cheng likes to call it "the impossible project".

Cheng unveiled the service on Tuesday afternoon at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, and though we're not quite sure what the impossible bit is all about, we can report that Spindex is an effort to provide netizens with a kind of uber content feed they can customize according to their particular social obsessions.

Before unveiling Spindex, Cheng showed off an earlier FUSE Labs project - the Twitter search tool built into Bing - and she pitched Spindex as an antidote to searching the Twitter firehose. "Most people aren't really that interested what everybody else thinks, what's trending on Twitter. What you really care about is what your friends think is interesting, what you think is interesting," she said.

"We've been thinking for a long time about how we could do kind of your own personal index, provide your own personal information that's private, that you can edit and interact with and possibly share with friends."

Yes, she painted the service as a "modern Rolodex".

Currently, Spindex aggregates feeds from Twitter, Facebook, Bing and the online clippings service Everdex. You can track popular topics on these services or set up running queries of your own, and Spindex actively serves up additional information on what your online buddies are rabbiting on about.

"We use smart technology to try to pull information to you that about what the person is saying," Chend said. "To me, this is great, because I have a lot of really smart, much hipper than I am friends, and they're always talking about stuff I don't know what they're talking about."

The service is available as a limited beta at spindex.me, and it requires a Microsoft Live account. ®

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