November 15, 2008

Glue Tries to Become the Web's Social Network Adhesive

The age of the walled garden social network seems to be fading. While you still have extremely active social networks with dedicated users, the data inside the vast majority of these sites is ripe for the taking, as you can display photos, status updates, new entries and other posted items, in new locations, thanks largely to RSS. In fact, the most widely known walled garden of the day, Facebook, is slowly opening up to the standard Web, as they recently announced Google will soon index those fan pages you have signed up for. But is there room for a different type of social network, that follows you to many different sites, running as an add-on to your Web browser?

Glue, a new entry from Adaptive Blue, hopes so. Their offering, an extension to Firefox, tries to show friends' activity on a myriad of different sites, starting with entertainment items, such as books, movies, music and restaurants. As you look for something fun to do, rather than reading a review from somebody you don't know, you can see what your friends have recommended. Additionally, rather than asking you to sign in to a single location, Glue decentralizes the information, and shares it with you as you go to integrated sites, from IMDB to Amazon, Flixster and more.

Glue shows your friends comments and likes of items around the Web.

Once you have added Glue to your Firefox browser, the extension comes to life any time your Web experience crosses paths with their list of sites. When browsing a film that your friends have said they "liked" or added a comment, shown as "adding two cents", you can see that atop your browser window, running in a horizontal strip above the page's content itself.

If your contacts have previously "liked" an item or added their two cents, you can put your mouse over their avatar and see what they thought. You can also click through any single individual's profile and see all of their relevant activity. If they have rated other books, films or music, you can scroll through their marked items. Instead of needing to go to a third-party service, like Shelfari or Goodreads, Glue tries to store this data, accessible from any enabled site.

As with many other services, Glue becomes more useful once you have registered your profiles with other networks, added friends and racked up activity. You can register different services, such as Facebook, Twitter,, FriendFeed and LinkedIn, and can even use these networks to find friends who are already using Glue. Assuming you have activity on those networks, you won't have to start off lonely and without friends.

I'm not a huge Firefox fan, preferring Safari, and any time I find a new tool, I wish it had perfect compatibility, across browsers and platforms. That Glue doesn't support every browser out of the box might slow its adoption, but once it's installed, it is a very simple tool that doesn't require a lot of maintenance. If you spend a lot of time looking for new entertainment on the Web, Glue might mean you have friends coming with you to help decide, whether they know it or not.

You can "Get Glue" at

Additional coverage of Glue from around the Web: