RockMelting Faces

RockMelt. It’s supposed to be what we’ve been waiting for. It’s supposed to be a form of Web 2.0 that is as seamless as it is intuitive. What is RockMelt? According to their website:

RockMelt does more than just navigate Web pages. It makes it easy for you to do the things you do every single day on the Web: share and keep up with your friends, stay up-to-date on news and information, and search. And of course, RockMelt is fast, secure, and stable because it’s built on Chromium, the open source project behind Google’s Chrome browser. It’s your browser – re-imagined and built for how you use the Web.

In short, they use Google Chrome to give you constant access to your Facebook and Twitter accounts in the form of two bars on either side of your browser:

As you can see, I have my Facebook friends who are currently online to my left — including my own profile on the upper left-hand side of the browser. Clicking on my picture allows me to update my status. I can also alternate between my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

On the right-hand side you can see the large Facebook icon, which gives me all of the most recent updates from my news feed. Thankfully, I don’t get any annoying sounds when something new pops up. All I get is a counter that silently counts the number of updates from my news feed. The same goes for any other page I decide to subscribe to, like Twitter or Roosterteeth. Lastly, the little Facebook icon shows a summary of the Facebook activity that is directly associated with me — like comments for example.

What’s cool:

  1. Twitter and Facebook any time & all the time
  2. Seamless integration of icons aren’t abrasive to the overall look of the browser
  3. I’m my own 24/7 news station
  4. I can add more feeds

What’s lame:

  1. Un-Godly distracting; unless you develop enough willpower not to check the constant updates
  2. Only works on Chrome, which is disappointing for Firefox fans like myself
  3. Using the Google search bar is a bit awkward because it lets you preview pages before you click on them and doesn’t automatically bring you to the Google search results page. Of course you can avoid this by using the address bar to search
  4. You can only post links to your status. You can’t post links with a description and a picture. You have to log onto Facebook the old-fashioned way to do that.
  5. In saying this, I’ve noticed that the social networking functions on the sides act as highly advanced applications that are somewhere between smart phone apps and the completely robust functionality of the real thing

So is this Web 3.0? Is this the semantic web? In short No. I think we still have a long way to go before the Internet is truly defined by participatory culture and informed by our peers in a way that makes using the Internet almost like using a tool that knows more about us than we know about it (expect for computer nerds of course…they know about everything).

I do think that we’re getting closer though, and an innovation like RockMelt is definitely a positive contribution to the ecosystem that will give rise to the next generation of computing technology and the Internet as we know it. In the meantime, I’ll be happy tinkering around with this browser and waiting for RockMelt to work all the kinks out. I can’t wait to see how this evolves.

Rock On!

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Facebook Lite: Less Calories and More Like Twitter

So I apparently missed the news on August 12th that Facebook was rolling out a new version of itself in Beta form for testing.  According to Facebook’s response to an inquiry by the folks at TechCrunch:

Similar to the Facebook experience you get on your mobile phones, Facebook “Lite” is a fast-loading, simplified version of Facebook that enables people to make comments, accept Friend requests, write on people’s Walls, and look at photos and Status updates. We are currently testing Facebook Lite in countries where we are seeing lots of new users coming to Facebook for the first time and are looking to start off with a more simple experience.

Lite

Lite

So this is basically the mobile app on the computer which seems a bit odd considering that Facebook has made it a point in recent years to go from a site where users had to visit each other’s pages to navigate the site in 2004, to the in-your-face status update crazed news feedathon that it is today.

Why are they scaling down? Well TechCrunch will have you believe that it’s because they are simply trying to cater to folks around the world who do not have brodband connections and need an alternative to Facebook’s main page (cue the tiny violin).

Noble, yes. True, perhaps. BS? Well, I’m going to wager that there is a little crap being spewed here. It’s no secret that Facebook and Twitter have been butting heads in popularity ever since celebrities like Shaq and Ashton Kutcher got on board with the micro blog. And sure, Facebook started using status updates first, but you can’t deny that the layout of “Facebook Lite” is very Twittery, even for Facebook.

There’s even a pattern here. Not too long ago they implemented the layout as we see it today. This design was lambasted by long-time users as an attempt to battle Twitter. So sorry TechCrunch, I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one. Facebook is becoming a lot (Lite) more like Twitter.

In short, yes, I can believe that Facebook Lite is for reaching people with slow connections. And because of this, they probably assume that those with a fast connection are going to keep using their “stout” Facebook accounts because it won’t make a difference to them either way.  However, I wouldn’t be too sure of that fact because if Twitter has taught us anything, it’s that sometimes less is more, and while people won’t stop using their “stout” accounts, they sure as hell will supplement their Facebook usage much in the same way users supplement their computer usage with phone applications.

Hence, Facebook is becoming more like Twitter (even if it’s on a totally different site).

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