Introducing Snowl - Messaging in the Browser
August 11, 2008 by Tania Antonova Source article

Could the web browser help you follow and participate in online discussions?

Snowl from Mozilla Labs is an experiment to answer that question.  It’s a prototype Firefox extension that integrates messaging into the browser based on a few key ideas

With Snowl, messages are alike, whether they come from traditional email servers, RSS/Atom feeds, web discussion forums, social networks, or other sources. 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. Snowl has browser functionality for navigating web content, like tabs, bookmarks, and history, also works well for navigating messages.

The Initial Prototype

The initial prototype supports two sources of messages: RSS/Atom feeds and Twitter.  And it exposes two interfaces for reading them.  First, a traditional three-pane “list” view, targeted to active reading of important messages:

the list view

Second, a “river of news” view, based on the concept popularized by Dave Winer, designed for casual browsing:

the river view

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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