Ever have the desire to chat about a Web page you’re reading, but find all the standard options: email, IM, Twitter, commenting on the page itself, etc – not nearly fast enough? Billy Chasen feels your pain, and his Firefly app may solve your problem.
Billy is one of the in-house tech guys at Betaworks, the incubator that’s not an incubator, and Firefly is one of the first things they’ve built from scratch, as opposed to investing in. In short, it lets users on a given Web page see each other, via a flickering, ghost-like cursor, and lets them chat in real time.
Billy tried demoing Firefly at last night’s NY Tech Meetup, but was foiled by tech problems. But even if he had been able to show it off properly, you can’t really get a sense of how this works until you’re actually playing with it (the screenshot below doesn’t do it justice, either). We’re not ready to turn it on here at SAI, but Betaworks advisor Dave Winer has offered up his blog as a guinea pig: Go check it out here. We concur with the commenter who describes it as an “ADD Twitter”. And we think that in this case that’s a good thing.
Firefly is a classic “feature not a business” Web 2.0 product, though we can imagine that Billy and the Betaworks guy could actually turn it into a business, if they get lucky. Perhaps they can charge individual web sites $5 or $10 a year to install the service: The obvious upside for publishers would be a huge uptick in time spent/engagement (the fact that almost all Web publishers are most concerned with page views above and beyond everything else is a separate story). Or perhaps someone at Facebook, Yahoo, or Bebo takes a look at this and realises this just makes plenty of sense as a tuck-in acquisition. Or maybe it just joins the ranks of the countless “Neat. So what?” applets we’ve seen during Boom 2.0. But we think that would be a shame.