Volunia: is it the next big thing?

What is Volunia? Volunia is a search engine with built in social features or if you prefer a social network built over web search functions. In fact the social function is fitted over the Web, but it is surely the main reason to access the site. The research still leaves much to be desired, waiting for deployment of the Semantic Web. Volunia indexes in fact only 1% of the Web, even though the good one – Massimo Marchiori, who yesterday announced to the world the birth of the new Italian product, after helping to develop the algorithm of Google search, claims.

Volunia is a tool bar located above the sites we visit and remaining there while we browse the sites themselves to support in the search further. But mainly Volunia is a social sidebar box allowing to interact with other people during web surfing. We choose a site to visit and then the mode: map or folders. Maps do not look amazing from the graphical point of view, but they are an interesting tool for navigation, very similar to a gps view.

There are references to the contents of the various sections and one side you can read, watch or listen, and on the other you can discuss those things with other people having your same tastes and interests, and are visiting in the same moment or visited previously the site. In this way each section of the map becomes a chat room. Clicking on a user we can view their profile and get where he is, provided that it has enabled this feature in the privacy settings.

Unfortunately you can not yet import your Facebook friends or see which of your contacts in Gmail or Twitter are online, that would have been a nice feature. To find the friends you must rely on the search engine by choosing “people”. Meanwhile, you can import your images and customize the privacy options.

It’s very interesting the possibility to modify the view and calibrate the properties. User participation is vital. Volunia offers in fact the owner of any site or blog the opportunity to create their own social network on top of their site.

The first impression is that Volunia is an amazing tool from a ‘social’ point of view. It has still significant limitations in terms of search and graphics, but they can be easily overcome in the near future, with greater resources available, in fact, as Massimo says, Volunia is perfectly scalable. I think that there is actually something new and never seen before and I will watch this thing carefully.


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