May 19, 2008 |
This is actually the second time I've sat down and mulled over the idea of co-browsing. The first time was a few months ago when I saw a launch, but I eventually decided it must be a passing fad (or a bad dream) and it would disappear. However, two other co-browsing applications have caught my attention and I realized I need to do my part to nip this trend in the bud before we are over-run.
The lesser offender of today's duo is Firefly, an app that requires the site owner to install it. Once installed, site visitors can chat with each other on the page using the adorable little chat bubbles that fade away after several seconds. Now, if we ignore the concept of monetization (how on earth would you get this to pay for itself? Charge site owners to use it?), there's still the issue of critical mass necessary to use it. Unless there are other site viewers, odds are there won't be anyone for you to chat with. If the site has enough viewers that there's a chat, it could also quickly get confusing. Allen Stern at CenterNetworks has a video posted of Firefly's demo from this month's NY Tech Meetup, and it doesn't look any less annoying in the video than it does on paper.
However, when compared with today's entry into this space, Firefly looks positively alluring. A press release from this morning announced Weblin lite, which allows you to co-browse… using avatars. Yes, if you aren't satisfied hanging out in Second Life, you can build an avatar in Weblin that allows you to interact with OTHER avatars and chat about the pages you are both currently on. Assuming, that is, there are other people out there who also have one of these avatars, that is. Then they all congregate down at the bottom of the browser window where you can chatter away about the page content.
I may just be having a Monday here, but I can't see the use for co-browsing unless it pertains to a demo of a web app, and in that case, it wouldn't involve chat bubbles or avatars. In terms of noise, this adds one more layer that just may give me nightmares tonight dreaming of one (or better yet, both!) of these apps installed on something like FriendFeed . I'll be propping my eyelids open with toothpicks tonight.