What's Happening

My Folia – Social Networking on Miracle Gro

by SusanBeta_badge_grad_gs
Need more proof that the Mouse&Trowel Awards rock?  They brought some much-deserved attention to a

very ambitious new site, My Folia, a finalist for Website of the Year (along with Blotanical and You Grow Girl).  Here’s what a little surfing on the site revealed:

MAPS
You can find gardens near you or in the same zone in other countries (oh yeah, this is global).  Near me somewhere in DC is "Anarchist Melon Patch’s Plot 1," with no more information than that, and I’m intrigued as hell.  (Anarchist, do I know you?)  Then I spy "Leafy Green Community Garden" which is very close to me and where I know actual gardeners!  Though here again I want to know more, especially who wrote the garden’s profile, including the subtle ratting on garden members for using Miracle Gro despite the garden’s organic-only rules. (Good for you!)  And I’m wondering if garden profiles on My Folia are the easy online presence we’ve been looking for to organize and publicize DC’s community gardens.

PLANT FILES
Find out who’s growing or propagating each plant and where.  Read
progress journal entries.  Learn the most popular varieties.  Read or
contribute to a Wiki for each plant.  See who wants each plant and who
has extras; easily arrange a swap.  Plant geeks will think they’ve died and gone to that great garden in the sky.

Myfoliamypage350
MY OWN PLOT ON MY FOLIA
Reluctant social networker that I am, I dove in and created a page on this site because it seems like a cool way to keep garden records – much cooler and easier than using my tattered spiral notebook.  If other "Folians" are interested in, say, ‘Tardiva’ hydrangea, they’ll see that I grow it and read the results (assuming I get around to listing all my plants.)

If you don’t want to sign up and create your own page you can still participate in almost everything here (except for the chat rooms), so it’s not one of those annoying gated website communities.

GROUPS
It’s got ’em – by location, by plant, by garden type, and even one for composting.  Ever scheming, my first thought was that community gardeners everywhere can brainstorm about best practices.

ALTERNATIVE/COMPLEMENT TO BLOGS
The journals here are a quick and dirty alternative to full-scale blogging, and that’s a good thing.  But what about us bloggers – do we need to duplicate everywhere here?  (Because that is SO not going to happen.)  No, it seems we can just link to our blogs and use the other features here.  So if see a comment on GardenRant by Spidra, I can go to her page on My Folia to learn all about her gardens.

GLOBAL REACH/LOCAL INFO
Okay, I’m usually lobbying for regional and local gardening information, but this site seems to make that happen while bringing together gardeners from around the world – to date, 1,110  Folians in 30 countries.  And it manages to avoid the deathly corporate look and feel of so many large websites.  That’s because it’s the love child of a very real couple – Nic and Nath, web developers and gardeners in England. 

ONE CAVEAT
Don’t take the tour – it frustrated me no end.  Just start surfing.  Other than that, the site functions remarkably well for all its complex functionality. 

BACK TO THOSE MOUSE&TROWEL AWARDS
As for My Folia’s competitors for the award, I’m also impressed by Stuart Robinson’s Blotanical, which takes a very different approach but also is social networking for gardeners, more tied into the blogging community.  Both sites are incredibly ambitious and I want them to succeed! You Grow Girl is unfamiliar to me.  Readers, please weigh in.

And have you voted yet?  You have until May 13.

Posted by on April 29, 2008 at 5:16 am, in the category What's Happening.
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9 responses to “My Folia – Social Networking on Miracle Gro”

  1. Hi Susan,

    Thanks for reminding me of My Folia. I must be living in a cave or something because I had never heard of it. I must check it out.

    (More to do…)

    Don’t forget to ring me up when you’re down in Southern Maryland and I’ll give you a tour of my garden!

    Robin at Bumblebee

  2. shira says:

    It would be nice if this could interface with the existing social networks out there. I’m already finding myself addicted to (wasting too much time) facebook. I don’t really have the time to keep up with another platform.

    My only feeble attempt at a garden journal is through the photos I post to my flickr page, who has time in this season for more?!

  3. trey says:

    We are starting to enter the era of over saturation. Don’t get me wrong, My Folia is a wonderful tool, just like Blotanical. The problem is there are just to many blogs, and now social networks to keep up with.

    I think what is going to be interesting in the future is how we decide where to spend our precious time. On My Folia, Blotanical, Facebook, My Space, LinkedIn, etc.

    I agree with shira, it would be nice if they could intereact so you wouldn’t have to switch from one to the other. As it is now I am not joining any new social networking sites simply because I don’t have the time. Plus I can’t remember which ones I belong to anymore.

    This is going to be a challenge for bloggers and blog readers.

  4. I’ve been a beta tester on Folia since late last year (I was invited because they saw how many garden pictures and captions I was posting on Flickr.com) and I’m there for one main reason: it’s useful to me. I’m a veteran of many social networking sites (Friendster, Orkut, Tribe.net, MySpace, Facebook, etc.) I agree that it gets tiring trying out new social networking sites but I find that I quickly find out which are useful to me and which interfaces I hate too much to interact with. I think the social networking features of Folia are at fledgling status – not unusual for a beta site. But what is useful to me and why I dove in so completely are the features for tracking one’s garden. I use a Mac and there’s not a lot of garden software out there for the Mac. I was on the verge of hiring my own database programmer to create the software of my dreams when Folia came along. It does 60% of what I wanted to do and I don’t have to save up to hire someone! And since it’s a beta site and the developers are very open to suggestions, it’s adding new features and interface tweaks constantly. Plus there are all the things I wouldn’t have thought up on my own.

    I love social networking sites because I like how they help me meet people. Folia is still growing in to its usefulness as a social networking site and I look forward to being part of that. But it is useful to me *right now* as a garden tracking and analysis tool.

  5. Nath says:

    Hi – it’s Nath from MyFolia here. Many thanks to Susan for the fantastic review of our site, we have had so many new members join today. It’s been great!

    Just to weigh in on the “social network fatigue” debate and add our two cents :) MyFolia was never designed to be just another social network, and for that reason we have tried to make sure that you can completely ignore the social elements of the site if you choose to do so. We are very much focused on the tracking and organising part of our site as this really is at the heart of what MyFolia is all about. A lot of our members use our site just for this purpose and come in and out as they please – we have tried really hard not to be a time waster type site.

    As for the comments about duplication, we are trying to build the site so that it links in with as many as your existing online accounts instead of replacing/duplicating them – we have so far integrated with flickr, picasa and blogger photos (photobucket coming soon), we also creating widgets to enhance your blogs with your plant tracking data, and that’s just the start!

    We are far from finished with MyFolia as our members are always coming up with great ideas for the site – we just have to find the time to create them :) If anyone has any suggestions for the site, we’d love to hear them!

  6. Ann says:

    We knitters have something called Ravelry that serves this same type of function … I love it. I guess I’ll be checking out Folia now!

  7. That’s funny, Ann. I found out about Ravelry because a lot of Ravelry folks are on Folia! So it goes both ways…

  8. I found MyFolia via a group post on Flickr and am so excited to now be a member of this incredible group of gardeners.

    The site is so extensive I have barely scratched the surface in my first week as a member..can’t wait to meet more gardening buddies and get out and photograph more of my plantings to share

  9. I just joined MyFolia last week and I’m loving it. I’m not interested in the social network angle, either – I’m using it to document my balcony garden. It’s beautifully designed for that kind of thing, and like Trey (comment above), I’m on a Mac.

    Slowly but surely I’m adding plant pictures and info and I love it.

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