By Scarlett McCain | @ScarlettMcCain
It seems as if 2016 is going to be all about fruit. First, there was the new app Peach. Now, we get to contend with Plum, a web service that is all about building connections between you and other users based on your Internet browsing habits.
Plum can be used from its website, but also moves with you. As a Google Chrome extension, the Plum toolbar resembles a chat box and rests in the right corner of your screen. This way, you can always access all of your features.
This overlay is unobtrusive and doesn’t detract from your web browsing experience. It can be expanded into a column when you feel like peeking in on your ongoing Plum-hosted discussions.
Plum is still in beta, but it has been a smooth ride so far.
Feed: this is the master view of all content. It shows any chats you are in, along with what other users are posting, similar to a Facebook feed. If you have something to say to everyone, this is the place to do it.
Plum allows you to narrow down your options and filter the content you see by proximity and similarity. I left these options respectively on “country” and “everyone” to cast the widest net possible.
Plum isn’t picky about how it lets you share your thoughts either--when making a post, you can post under your screen name or anonymously. If you post anonymously Plum will assign you a screen name using a fruit+number formula, i.e. Cherry123 with an avatar of said fruit.
Chat: a fairly self-explanatory feature. This column houses all of your chats and is also a place to launch new chats with users. When setting up a new chat, you will be asked which filters you would like to apply to invite people to the chat (those invited cannot see what criteria you used to select them). Once again proximity and similarity are the defining factors.
Profiles that match your own by at least 30 percent are automatically selected (but you can manually add others into your chat), with a cap of 20 people per chat.
Plum’s default setting for posts is anonymous and this remains true in chats. Once you select how you’d like to represent yourself for a chat, however, you can’t go back.
Groups: this is a more limited version of your feed. These groups are sorted by topic, but you do not formally have to join a group to participate.
Currently there are three default groups upon joining: Ask Plum Anything, Plum Beta Test, and Plum Stories. These groups are fairly straightforward: to get answers, to troubleshoot features and to share awesome things that happened using Plum.
As you visit different web pages, you will gain additional groups specific to that page in your overlay. (Even the Google Doc I am preparing this blog on gets a group!)
Discover: how to connect with people. If you are a more pro-active person, this is going to be your favorite feature. Discover lets you quickly narrow down the type of person you would like to talk to.
For me, I went from Interests>News>National News. From there, Plum found 19 other users who fit that interest 100 percent. It was simple to find people to start a new group chat, on say the merits of social media in the news.
Bonus: Ask Plum Anything isn’t just for show. My questions were answered in no less than 15 minutes. Polite and prompt interactions earn Plum a gold star. One admin was even proactive enough to send me a message explaining how to fix the format URL of a post (and were nice, not snarky, about it).