It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Snowl


Think about all the ways we converse and communicate online now. RSS/Atom feeds, Twitter, blogging, web discussion forums, social networks, email and others. It gets to be a jumbled mess in just a short time.

Now the folks that brought you Firefox are trying a new experiment in managing all this information in the form of Snowl.

The developers cite these key ideas in Snowl’s development:

  • It doesn’t matter where messages originate. They’re alike, whether they come from traditional email servers, RSS/Atom feeds, web discussion forums, social networks, or other sources.
  • Some messages are more important than others, and the best interface for actively reading important messages is different from the best one for casually browsing unimportant ones.
  • A search-based interface for message retrieval is more powerful and easier to use than one that makes you organize your messages first to find them later.
  • Browser functionality for navigating web content, like tabs, bookmarks, and history, also works well for navigating messages.

Snowl is still very much in its infancy, as you’ll find out if you try the extension. The principal behind it is sound however, and I certainly want to see further development. .

The folks over a Mozilla Labs are looking for feedback on their new experiment and are particularly interested in how users feel about how messaging might fit into the browsing experience. They also want to know if users think there are other interfaces that would make it easier for them to have online conversations.

The possible extensions to the Snowl prototype include:
  • Support for additional message sources, e.g. Facebook, AIM, Google Talk, etc.;
  • An interface for writing and sending messages to enable true two-way conversations;
  • An API to make it easier for developers to build new experimental interfaces, e.g. an instant message view.

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