Social Media and CAD take 2

Someone commented that the previous article was too long. And it was. But it didn’t include everything I had to say. So that means that I have to do a part 2. Sorry.

The only software that I think at this time is a really practical approach to combining SM + CAD is SolidJott. Ben Eadie is a tireless idea machine. You can ask a question about SolidWorks right in the Task Pane.

You can associate a lot of buzzwords with this, but the fact is that it solves a real problem. Ben is also developing Jott systems for other CAD products. The idea just makes sense. Simple. Easy. Works. Of course when you’re a CAD giant already, you can push this sort of stuff out and make an instant success. Ben relies on less traffic and probably zero cooperation from SolidWorks to get stuff like this out. So go visit Ben, and get theSolidJott SolidWorks add-in.

Another new social media / CAD product is Vuuch. This one is less simple, but still has a useful concept. Vuuch (rhymes with pooch) essentially turns your CAD program into an email client. You can go here to see a demo. You can see that they are trying very hard to make this look simple and useful. To me it seems like you are simply duplicating the email function in a place where it doesn’t belong. I can’t articulate why I’m less excited about this one than about SolidJott. Maybe its that Vuuch is from the guy who brought the world Seemage or nowadays better known as 3Dvia. First of all, it seems to be a name-challenged lot. Second, 3Dvia has been called overpriced MS Office functionality. I don’t have any real experience with it, but it’s a DS product that is supposed to do documentation. SolidWorks is a DS company that needs a lot of help with documentation, but they use software other than 3Dvia. If the company that bought Seemage and renamed it 3Dvia fails to see the value, then so do I.

jiveOf course to me, my all-time favorite social media for CAD is the SolidWorks forums. The participation of other users is what gives this the most value. There are so many users that you can get an answer to just about any CAD or mech engineering related question. Hands down better than anything else out there. With the new edition of the forums, SW has had some questions about their concerns for user’s privacy, with emails exposed, and in one bizarre case even an image of a guy’s house ??!? Anyway, it wouldn’t be SolidWorks if it didn’t have some serious flaws in the execution. Still, the new forums are a huge benefit for users, and even accessible by non-subscription customers.

The ability to post images, videos, links, surpasses usenet by a longshot, and most other social media formats as well.

Aside from the privacy issues, and obvious implementation mistakes, I like the new forums. Privacy is one of the huge issues confronting people in the whole social media world. Social media right now seems to be about just letting it all hang out right there for everybody to see. It won’t take long for the culture to mature and realize that this isn’t a great idea. We’ve all heard about the people burglarized by a Twitter follower who knew exactly when they were out of town, or about identity theft made easy because all of your details are everywhere.

The new forums are fueled by Jive Software, focussed on bringing social media to business. The main relationship social media and business usually have is marketing. These days social media people are coming to understand that marketing IS content. Or “should be”. Traditional marketing through advertisements is too tacky for words. Manufacturers using content to draw people find more enthusiastic and less cynical participation.

If SolidWorks is actually using the forums as a marketing exploit, it’s one I don’t mind. It provides real value to all users, and is the best resource of its kind.

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