Flock – The trustbuster in the Browser War

August 14, 2007 1 By Tad Reeves

Unfortunately, right now, there is not much of a browser war anymore.

In 1996, when I was working for a dinky start-up ISP in Portland, Oregon, all I ever heard of was tales of the war between Microsoft and Netscape. With my blisteringly fast 100Mhz computer, I was always running the newest beta of Netscape 2.0, and was one of the ones that won a tee-shirt at the Internet Exporer 4.0 “midnight madness” download party when IE 4.0 was released. New features were being added all the time that fundamentally changed the way that we made websites — silly things like when IE finally allowed you to make tables have a background image, or when broad JavaScript support finally existed. Just Netscape 1.2’s support for tables at all rocked my world back in ’95. As an example, when the Scientology and Dianetics websites first came out in 1995/96, they were done entirely without tables as not everyone could view this.

But what about now? What was the last significant advance in web browser software? I’d have to say it’s tabbed browsing, but that came out 3 years ago.

I’d have to venture that pretty much ever since Netscape went under and basically lost the browser war to Microsoft, there’s been an utter stagnation in the feature set of the browser – with the main improvements being things like security and cosmetics. Honestly, what does IE7 bring to the table in terms of a fundamental feature set?

I’d have to say that it’s about time for someone to once again extend the feature set of the browser, and start taking in some new territory — and once again start providing something new to majorly change and extend the way we use the Internet. The guys over at Flock, which I have to commend, are doing something quite interesting with this in that they are building Web 2.0 right into the browser, and are tying in some of the most popular social networking and interactive services right into the UI of the browswer window.

Even cooler is that it works on Linux. Like a charm. Like in 30 seconds it was downloaded and installed and running on my Fedora 7 box.

Some simple examples of what this changes: first, I have all of my blogs and social networking services represented right in the browser. I just browse along and when I see something nifty to blog I just press a hotkey and start typing and press publish. Blam. Like a surfing comment about the Scientology Basics on my FastPageMode blog (and BTW – the new Scientology basic books are incredible), or like this post you’re reading now. I can with a click dig into my Flickr photos, or rapidly add RSS feeds to a sidebar so I can keep track of my news. Nifty items I find like the Dianetics Course I’m on now, can just be saved to a web clipboard, so that I can paste in and use the items later in blogs.

I’m only touching on like a tenth of the features, but I think the point is that a gigantic amount of the development work in web applications nowadays is not going into desktop apps, but into on-line apps like YouTube and Facebook, as well as privatized versions of such like the Way to Happiness site which implements similar video sharing features. The browswer now is just turning into a fast app which can take advantage of all this, and tie all of these disparate apps into an Internet experience which is faster and more ‘jacked-in’.

I have no idea how Flock intends to fund themselves, but the idea is nonetheless exciting — that someone would finally go to start extending the browsing experience once again and start moving into some new ground.

Blogged with Flock

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