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4/4/2007
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Firefox's 'The Coop' Tests Social Browsing

The plug-in from Mozilla Labs allows the browser to become a content sharing tool and compete directly with sites like MySpace.

Firefox is getting a social life. Mozilla Labs, Mozilla's research group, today detailed "The Coop," an experimental set of content sharing tools for Web browsers.

"We want to create a fun and easy way to share links with your friends, and to browse the set of links that friends have shared with you," a Mozilla Labs blog post explains. "We also want to make it easy to 'subscribe' to a friend in order to make it easy to keep track of the pictures, movies, blog posts and status information that they might be posting on a variety of services."

Web browsing, in other words, is trespassing on MySpace.

The Mozilla Labs Wiki elaborates: "Perhaps the most common social interaction on the Web today is sending someone a link. It's done over IM, e-mail, Web logs, RSS feeds from aggregator sites, bookmark sharing sites like del.icio.us, social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace, and even over the phone. The desire is the same: 'Hey, friend, go check out this neat thing and then let's talk about it!' The goal of The Coop is to ease this interaction, and merge it with similar tools provided by a large number of popular Web services."

Mozilla Labs isn't the first to do this. Flock has been updating its Flock social Web browser for more than a year. The current beta version is 0.7.12 for Linux, Mac, and Windows.

More broadly, collaboration and sharing features are popping up everywhere, from enterprise portals to desktop operating systems. Particularly among Web 2.0-style startups, it's hard to find a company that's not trying to make its software more social.

Firefox users who have established free accounts at Mozilla.org can sign in, edit their preferences to include "sandbox" extensions, and download a prototype of the social networking add-on.

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