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Glue, the Firefox addon that wisely links people, things and relationships from all around web

February 14, 2009 2 comments

Short Introduction

Glue is a Firefox addon that uses semantic analysis to connect people around books, movies, music, and other common things across popular sites. Glue can understand and map both structured and unstructured data and then become the bridge (or better the glue) that connects people looking at the same object from multiple web sites. There are few good blog posts that have covered Glue already. This is the reason that I’m keeping this intro short. I prefer to focus on the value of using Glue.

glue1

 What to do on glue?

Start Glue-ing by visiting a page on one of the many web sites that Glue supports like Wikipedia, Amazon, Last.fm, O’Reilly books, Yahoo! Finance, Citysearch, Wine.com, IMDB, Last.fm and many more. When you’re looking at the book, music, movie, star, artist, stock, wine, or restaurant you will see the Glue toolbar slide down from the top of the web page. Glue’s toolbar shows you friends and other Glue users that visited the same object. Glue shows you friends who liked the object and you can read their “2 cents” – a short comment about the object (140 chars long). At this point you are presented with lots of ways to benefit (actually, more than I realized the first few times I use it). Here are some of the things to do next:

  • Read a summary describing the object
  • Check which other Glue members visited the same object (anywhere on the web)
  • Read others’ comments (two cents).
  • Take action
    • Object specific actions – find it on your preferred web site, read a review, compare its price, find similar objects, and more
    • Sharing option – use Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, FriendFeed, and Delicious to tell the world about it
  • Learn more about the people that liked it by looking at their profile
  • Follow people and become friends if they follow you back
  • Say that you like it – by pressing the heart shaped button
  • Add your two cents
  • Grow your knowledge and network by moving from things to people to things to people and stop only to connect, comment or to take an action.

What else to do on glue?

  • Grow your network on other social networks like Twitter or FriendFeed – most Glue members have their Twitter and FriendFeed accounts linked to Glue. Glue allows you to find out more about their interests before following them on these social networks.
  • If you are into the stock market you can use a new service called StockTwits. This is a Twitter mashup that lets you follow discussions about stock trades, find active members to follow on Twitter and build your own portfolio to use as a filter for finding related conversations. When you select a stock to read related twitts you’ll see the Glue toolbar sliding down with all its glory. Now you can see other Glue members that were interested in the same stock and connect on both networks.

Explicit values

  • Your network is built automatically as you browse your favorite web site without leaving it
  • It is a single, web-wide network that works on popular book, movie, and music sites
  • It replaces both search and bookmarking – Glue brings you the information when and where it makes sense
  • It’s easy to move from object to people to object. This helps you find great books and music – this is what that I found myself doing on Glue.
  • The option to take action no matter what web site you are browsing helps to complete your search tasks faster.
  • Glue is very intuitive and simple to use. It takes not time to get on-board.
  • Crowd wisdom – you can see what is most popular with friends and other interesting people

Implicit values

  • The building of the network is driven by objects you like. You connect to likeminded people around common objects automatically, regardless of the website visited. Since there are lots of objects out there and many curious people looking for them it makes Glue a network building machine.
  • Contextual lifestream filter – it shows users relevant information from friends about things they visit. Other lifestreams have a lot of noise and require work. Glue brings you a filtered lifestream of valuable information i.e friends activities wrapped around object and people in the context of an object. 
  • Connect around the rare stuff – connecting around objects that are loved by many is a rapid way to build your network but some times it is meaningless, like joining the Facebook beer lovers group :). Using Glue you have a good chance for finding new people that are interested in objects that are not so common like this amazing British TV series from the 90th that I like so much – Cracker (I did find a few Glue members that liked it).

AdaptiveBlue

AB-logo

AdaptiveBlue was Founded in February 2006 by Alex Iskold and has 11 employees working from their New York Office. The company has two products: Glue and SmartLinks (patent pending). In its short existence it earned industry recognition and top press and blogs.

Glue use two methods to understand meanings from data on the web. The top down approach using its semantic engine to understand some of the most popular web sites out there that don’t use any of the known metadata format (like RDF). AdaptiveBlue also collaborated on a new format to describe objects attributes on the web called ABMeta. Sites like Oreilly books, UGO and others have already adopted it. This is referred to as the bottom up approach, which is a more robust way to make web pages easier for machines to understand.

 Additional thoughts

After using Glue for sometime now I have a few features that I hope to see in the future. The first one is coming soon and it is the option to discuss with friends about different objects.

  • I also would like to get an alert when someone was looking at one of the objects that I have visited in the past (set selectively on certain objects)
  • I think that Glue needs a landing page. The toolbar is cool and subtle yet there is a place for presenting some aggregated data like:
    • Most active people on Glue (sorted by object type)
    • Most looked at objects – most liked objects
    • Most connected people on glue – featured users
    • Recently joined and recently visited objects
    • Promotions – Glue knows what people are looking for and like. This informarion gives an opportunity to get some nice deals for its members.

Glue is a simple to use application with great benefit supported by very complex technology in the back-end. It manages to bring a lot of value to the front-end without scarifying usability and ease of use. Is Glue the first consumer application that’s showing us the semantic web finally fulfilling its promise?

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