Explode, the meta-social network that allows you to befriend others regardless of what network they belong to, has added a number of new features -- the most noticeable of which is a people-based search engine.
Utlizing public APIs and the open standard FOAF (Friend of a Friend), Explode now enables users to search for others, either by interest or name, across a number of social sites such as Flickr, Live Journal, Vox, YouTube, and Tribe, as well as the Explode network itself. Once you find people, you then have a number of options, including: seeing everybody who that person has listed as a friend or been befriended by, leave a message on their comment wall, see all tags used by that person, and view their latest activities on each network they belong to. Explode will also soon display others with similar interests alongside each search result.
Like the yet-to-launch (but much hyped), Spock, users have the option to 'claim' their search results -- so that they can group together all of the networks they belong to, and consolidate any comment wall entries left on each of their results. However, rather than requiring users to hand over their log-in details for each of the services, in order to verify their identity, Explode relies on the community to police itself. If somebody has wrongly claimed a result, users have the option to 'flag' this up to the Explode administrators. Since claiming a result doesn't allow you to do much beyond grouping your search results for each network you belong to, and tracking publicly accessible comment walls, Explode feels that a trust-based system is preferable to asking users to hand over log-in details for various third party services.
Whilst the beefed up search functionality is useful, particularly as a way of discovering users with similar interests, Explode's power still lies in its ability to act as a meta-social network, bridging the gap between other existing networks.
This is where Explode has also made a number of enhancements. For example, anybody you befriend as part of your Explode network can be grouped into different categories called collections. You can then separate professional contacts with family and friends etc. It is then possible to send your collections a message or 'nudge', where a mutual connection exists (so no unwarranted spamming). Additionally, Explode supports OpenID to make it as easy as possible to sign up to the service -- as well as being an OpenID provider in itself. Because an Explode profile points to the site or profile of your choice (such as your own blog or presence on Myspace, Bebo etc), your OpenID can link to the profile that you feel best represents you.
As well as working with and across other social networks, Explode also wants to remain as open as possible by providing its own public API, and outputting all profiles and connections in FOAF.