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Mozilla Launches Snowl Messaging Prototype 85

Posted by timothy
from the too-pervasive-can-be-annoying-too dept.
Jack Spine writes with the story that the Mozilla project "has launched 'Snowl' — an experimental messaging prototype that could allow people to collate and view messages from email, RSS, messaging, and social networks. From the article: 'Key ideas behind the project, called 'Snowl', are to enable users to prioritise messages by importance, and have a search-based interface for message retrieval, according to Mozilla developer Myk Melez. "Could the web browser help you follow and participate in online discussions?" wrote Melez in a blog post on Wednesday. "Snowl is an experiment to answer that question." Another of the key ideas of the project is that browser functionality for navigating web content, including tabs, bookmarks, and history, be used to navigate messages.'"
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Mozilla Launches Snowl Messaging Prototype

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  • Looks interesting (Score:5, Informative)

    by julesh (229690) on Friday August 08, 2008 @03:23AM (#24521735)

    Not sure about the social networking aspect of it, but from what I see on the Mozilla Labs page [mozilla.com] it's the RSS reader I've been looking for for a while now...

    • by dascritch (808772)

      What ??? Thunderbird is not the RSS reader of your dreams ? Nor for your newsgroups ???

      I stop now joking. I really appreciate that Thunderbird now deflate. What use for RSS ou newsgroups or Calendar for the most people ? And why not having these functions as addons, for having Tb lightweight enough for being used on ... say... an eee pc ?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ash-Fox (726320)

        I stop now joking. I really appreciate that Thunderbird now deflate. What use for RSS ou newsgroups or Calendar for the most people ? And why not having these functions as addons, for having Tb lightweight enough for being used on ... say... an eee pc ?

        I use Kontact [kde.org] on my laptop and Eee PC. Both are running Kubuntu [kubuntu.org] hardy.

        I use the calendar, e-mail, RSS, news group and notes features of Kontact.

        • My only issue is who keeps coming up with these names? "Snowl" really? Thats nearly as bas as "Cuil" I get the fact that they want to be original and stand out but I don't think using a word that makes me (and I would immagine others) not even want to look at it is the right approach. It sounds like some kind of animal. In an australian accent - "Here we are in the rain forrest tracking the deadly Snowl."
          • by mhall119 (1035984)

            It's obviously an abbreviation for "snow owl", which is represented on the extension's icon. Probably it will be officially named SnowOwl if it ever leaves Mozilla Labs.

            That said, it looks to become a very nice RSS reader. Hopefully it will lead to improvements for both Firefox and Thunderbird.

    • Re:Looks interesting (Score:5, Informative)

      by HawkingMattress (588824) on Friday August 08, 2008 @06:05AM (#24522391)
      Ever tried Google Reader [google.com] ?
      • My point exactly..... google reader works fine for me too!!
        • by jseale (691367)
          Feedly integrates with Google Reader and was specifically made for Firefox. Quite nice.
      • I use Wizz RSS [wizzrss.com], which is nicely integrated in Firefox.
        • by Firehed (942385)

          Anything that's tied to your browser is only useful if you a) leave your system on 24/7 and b) only work from a single machine. Google Reader automatically handles fetching content continually and the read/unread/favorites statuses are always consistent across all browsers accessing it.

      • by julesh (229690)

        Ever tried Google Reader ?

        Yes. It is, in fact, what I use currently. However, it lacks the full-text at-a-glance view that this plugin features.

  • This would be neat (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Carthag (643047) on Friday August 08, 2008 @03:32AM (#24521769) Homepage

    I have chatlogs & emails dating back 12+ years, so having a good (context-aware) interface for searching all at once would be great. I don't always remember in which medium I spoke with someone. Was it on IRC? Was it on AIM? Email?

    It'd need to be able to parse many different formats to be useful, though. I have text-based chatlogs from the old Hotline servers, AIM chats from the official client, from iChat, from Adium. Etc, etc. Would be neat if you could write a regex-based plugin to parse the text-formats.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by brezel (890656)

      Would be neat if you could write a regex-based plugin to parse the text-formats.

      egrep? :)

      • by Carthag (643047)

        Or whatever else. As long as it's a solid regex engine, I'd be happy.

        • by Viol8 (599362)

          Well heres an idea - save the file and use grep. Amazing eh?

          • by Carthag (643047)

            As I mentioned the messages are in multiple formats. It would be hell to write a regular expression that fit every format at once. Rather, I'm talking about an interface that abstracts this, so you don't have to worry about what format the message is in.

            Obviously if I could just grep, I'd have done it (and that works fine when I know in which medium I need to find something in).

          • by cloakable (885764)

            Oh, here's another idea. Don't bother installing X.org or a window manager, and just use the console.

            Good luck having more than one program onscreen, though.
            How about this: The GP wanted a solid regex engine inside the program, and I know this next bit may be difficult for you, so he can do regex from inside the program! Shocking! The audacity to expect a program to be useful!

            • by Viol8 (599362)

              "Good luck having more than one program onscreen, though."

              Actually you've been able to do that for years , I'll let you figure out how genius.

              "and I know this next bit may be difficult for you, so he can do regex from inside the program! "

              Yeah , because its so difficult to click File->Save then do a grep. No , why make life simple if you can have yet more bloated libraries dangling off an already bloated browser.

              • by Carthag (643047)

                I'm not interested in keeping an extra copy of everything, converted to text, just so i can grep it. That's not simpler in any way.

                I love grepping, don't get me wrong, but it's the wrong tool for what I'm talking about.

                • by orasio (188021)

                  Grep is a good tool for that job , because it's more reusable, and you can keep using it even if you change programs.
                  You can just have a small shell script that takes a search criteria, and egreps all the log file collections sequentially, reformatting xmls as needed.
                  Then, an extension could be written to use it, but it's useful to have it stand alone, so you don't need to open a program to use it, maybe you can just have it as a global command, or as a part of another program too.
                  That's the beauty of the u

    • by Chemisor (97276)

      > I have chatlogs & emails dating back 12+ years, so having a good (context-aware) interface for searching all at
      > once would be great. I don't always remember in which medium I spoke with someone. Was it on IRC? Was it on AIM? Email?

      Why would you want to? This is a professional question; I'm thinking about implementing a mail client. Why would you care what you said to somebody five years ago? I have difficulty understanding why people keep their email for years and years. If it was some importan

      • I think part of the problem is just not knowing what is going to pop up as "relevant". Honestly, I don't care very much about my personal emails from 5 years ago, but I might care about my work e-mails. When some client comes to me and says, "What? You've been doing that for 5 years? Why are you doing that? I never told you to do that!", it's helpful if you can whip out their original e-mail and say, "I'm just doing what you said right here."

      • by Carthag (643047)

        As nine-times says, part of it is not knowing when I need to know something from whenever. It can be hard to find a specific conversation from a specific time to find out what the specifics were at that point in time.

        Another part is nostalgia.

      • The cost of keeping everything forever (how much disk space does 5 years of chat logs take up?) vs the cost of losing some data point you didn't know was important two years ago.

        • by Chemisor (97276)

          > vs the cost of losing some data point you didn't know was important two years ago.

          Losing what data point? Give an example. I can't think of a single "data point" you could possibly find in an email that you couldn't Google for.

  • Kind of like what we have now. *Shrugs*

  • by Statecraftsman (718862) * on Friday August 08, 2008 @03:38AM (#24521807) Homepage
    1. Combine all feeds into one stream with some way to tell which service provided each item.
    2. Post replies like email does, back to the service that provided the item you're replying too.
    3. Have a post to all services option.
    4. Keep a local cache of all these messages, the social graph, and allow export to csv or to another service.
    5. Laconi.ca support.
    6. Rules that let the user selectively forward items via sms.
    • by ChoboMog (917656)

      I like the concept of this system amalgamating several forms of online discussion, including several of your options. However, whenever new features are added to browsers, there are always complaints about them becoming "bloated". This would only compound the situation.

      Keeping this separate from the traditional web browser could make for an interesting evolution in instant messaging clients...Having POP and web-based email compatibility, several IM protocols (eg GAIM), RSS feeds, newsgroups, IRC etc all i

    • by patro (104336) on Friday August 08, 2008 @05:35AM (#24522247) Journal

      What I'd like to see is a tool which tracks where I comment without me having to do anything.

      So I surf the web and make a random comment on a weblog, and I want to be notified if someone replies to my comment without having to subscribe to the comment feed.

      It should happen automatically and the subscripiont should silently be dropped after a while if I didn't go back.

      Now I comment here and there (blogs, forums, google groups, etc.) and if I forgot to go back then I don't know if someone made an insightful reply to comment, etc.

      So a tool would be nice which would automatically take note where I contribute something and monitor that place for changes. I guess we're not there yet, but I hope it happens soon.

      • by steevc (54110)

        Some sites offer a comment feed for each post. I need an easy way to manage those. The Google Reader subscription manager is a bit clumsy. I use Reader so I can browse my feeds from home, work or elsewhere.

        Perhaps comment following needs an enhancement to RSS, but that's not something I know too much about.

        Is Snowl (not sure about the name) anything like Flock? I've not used either.

      • What I'd like to see is a tool which tracks where I comment without me having to do anything.

        While the Director of Homeland Security doesn't appreciate being called a "tool", he is glad that someone values his work.

      • When users post comments to my websites I always require an email address as some kind of validation. When someone then replies to those comments notifications are sent to that email address. Doesn't this cover what you're suggesting already? Surely any good website developer would expect at least an email address as comment verification, and then be able to notify the poster to replies?
        • by patro (104336)

          What if someone doesn't reply to my comment, just writes something interesting later? I don't want to limit this to replies to my own comment. The point is it should be recorded automatically when I post something somewhere (blog, forum, etc.) and the tool should show me further the activites at the location since I left.

          • As a system the important thing is differentiating what's "something interesting" and just "something". It's not an easy problem to figure out what you find interesting. At the moment most comment / discussion systems will either tell you about every comment that relates to the original article you posted to, or only direct replies. I can't see a way to differentiate some fuzzy boundary between those 2, and the former (which is what you're suggesting) has too big a noise to signal ratio.
            • by patro (104336)

              It shouldn't send me mails for every new item or something. It should only present me a list sorted by date most recent first, so that I can see with a quick glance where I was and what happened there since I was there (number of replies to my comment, number of new comments, etc.)

              This list would be assembled automatically, but I could also add something to it manually with a click if something is interesting, but I don't have anything to add, I only want to watch what other have to say.

              The oldest sources i

              • agreed, a system that tracks more than just direct replies could be nice, but I'd argue that most users would be more annoyed by constant reminders about articles where they replied. I guess what I'm trying to get at is that everyone wants a different level of involvement in the discussion that they posted to. And that is on a per-discussion basis, not a system-wide configuration. As the system how do I know how often you'd like to receive updates in the same article as this particular post? Once again y
                • by patro (104336)

                  Well, the level of notification would be configurable. There would be people who would set up a popup window to get instant notification (perhaps for certain discussions only).

                  I personally would use it like I use my RSS reader. When I had the time I opened the tool and it would show me what happened at places of interest and I could check out what seems interesting.

                  So in my mind it should be similiar to an RSS reader only with automatic subscription and automatic expiration of subscriptions when the discuss

      • I agree that this seems like it could be very helpful, but...

        I don't know, when I looked at it, my first reaction was, "It looks like we've finally reinvented the newsgroup." Maybe this will be better and have more advantages, but if we start down this road, then websites will really have to start using some kind of standardized protocol for Snowl to talk to, or else Snowl will only be useful on certain website software that it was designed to handle.

        So now you're talking about taking the web forums, whi

  • "Cuoold zee veb brooser help yuoo fulloo und perteecipete-a in oonleene-a deescoossiuns?" vrute-a Melez in a blug pust oon Vednesdey. "Snool is un ixpereement tu unsver thet qooesshun."
  • by 1 a bee (817783) on Friday August 08, 2008 @03:52AM (#24521855)

    I haven't tried snowl, but I think this type of effort has promise. I believe we have already surrendered too much control to the convenience of web-based interfaces for social networking. (Think web-based email.) Snowl's approach is more end-to-end.

    Every web property owner will, at the end of the day, protect their own turf--at the possible expense of the user. So, for example, I can't expect facebook to play nice with say a competitor like Plaxo. I'd like them to--because I have accounts at both, and find duplicating my personal information at both places, among other things, really tedious. And it's only getting worse with time.

    The solution to this is not yet another web-based aggregator. No, all that does is set up yet another middleman whose business model will be to eventually screw you. Much better to put all the smart at your end. That'll keep us, the end users, in control.

    --
    Have USB, Will Travel [faunos.com]

    • by blahplusplus (757119) on Friday August 08, 2008 @04:01AM (#24521887)

      "Every web property owner will, at the end of the day, protect their own turf--at the possible expense of the user. So, for example, I can't expect facebook to play nice with say a competitor like Plaxo"

      This is exactly where competition and the free market hurts us and causes a lot of inefficiency, I wish there were ways to 'de-marketize' certain area's so that standards can emerge. It would save us lots of money and lots of headaches if we could develop a framework for this to occur. IMHO, markets begin to break down when certain features of our world have to start obeying the laws of geometry vs some idealized form of socio-economic system.

      • by 1 a bee (817783) on Friday August 08, 2008 @04:36AM (#24522009)

        markets begin to break down when certain features of our world have to start obeying the laws of geometry vs some idealized form of socio-economic system.

        Someone once wrote (I think it was Nassim Taleb), that the magic of capitalism lies in its capacity for creative destruction; it's claim to efficiency (in the engineering sense) is really a farce. The free market, I'd venture to say, is only asymptotically efficient. That is, only the grotesquely inefficient die of natural causes; the rest are mostly victims of a circumstantial jungle.

      • by daveime (1253762)

        Yes those pesky free markets with their innovation. Damn those telephones, damn those e-mails, damn those cell phones, damn them all to hell.

        We should ALL be using morse code, now THERE was a standard !!!

    • Is the latest 733t term for someone whos banged out a web page with Frontpage one wet sunday?

  • Login for Plugins? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bieeanda (961632) on Friday August 08, 2008 @03:57AM (#24521869)
    Yeah, this is off-topic, but jeez. I took one look at that River of News mock-up, and had to see if the real thing was as confusing as it looked-- scrolling horizontally and vertically with a format like that looks like a UI sprain waiting to happen.

    So I go to download the plugin, to see if the river works better than it looks, and to see if I can finally figure out what the fuss about RSS is. Then I'm met with a login page, and that's where I stopped. I don't need to log in as a reminder that I'm taking a risk-- Christ almighty, Firefox already has a fucking username and password monitor built in, so that eliminates that after my first run through the hoops. If you want a barrier that makes me think for more than half a second, rather than makes me mutter about fishing another fucking web-page sign-up out of my bulk mail folder, throw up a boilerplate EULA and a yes/no radio button at the end.

  • Does it rhyme with hole or owl ?

    If the latter (Owl messaging service) then J K rOwling wants credit for the idea.

  • by lokedhs (672255) on Friday August 08, 2008 @04:30AM (#24521987)
    Is it really too much to ask that the story actually contains a link to the actual product [mozilla.org]?

    Instead, you are given a link to a zdnet news story, which links to a blog, which contains the relevant link at the very bottom of the page.

    At the very least, the zdnet news story was completely irrelevant.

  • by locofungus (179280) on Friday August 08, 2008 @04:33AM (#24521997)

    Wouldn't feeding everything into a news server and then reading it with a newsreader that supports scoring do this?

    I've used this in the past to read mailing lists, gateway the emails onto a local news server and then you (mostly) get proper threading.

    Set up the local group as moderated and you can even use the news server to reply (but be careful if you do this as a small bug can result in you echoing every message you receive back to the mailing list which will not make you popular)

    Tim.

  • Err, that'll be "grep" then.

    I save any important messages as plain text files in a directory. For some strange reason I've never found a need for an offline browser based interface to sort or search them. But hey, perhaps I'm just old fashioned and not cool enough to be jacked in to Web 2.0. Dude.

    • by MrMr (219533)
      Using grep is scheduled for Web 4.0, when the clicking crowd finally discovers why that flat typewriter without paper is attached to their PC.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Yvanhoe (564877)
      "You had this discussion in 2005 with what's-his-name, John Johnson's chief engineer, throught that dumb skype thing they used back then. Can you tell me what you explained to him at the time ?"

      I agree that grep + text file should be enough but if you need to copy-paste every message to a text file, then add tags to make them searchable, an automated tool would save you a lot of time. I know, you say "only important messages". Well from my experience you never know which messages might be important.

      I te
      • by Viol8 (599362)

        Most mailers can dump your entire mailbox to a single file. Problem solved.

        • by Ash-Fox (726320)

          Most mailers can dump your entire mailbox to a single file. Problem solved.

          How do I do this with kmail and Thunderbird then?

          • by Viol8 (599362)

            Don't know , but Evolution stores its folders as single files. Eg inbox is .evolution/mail/local/Inbox

        • by Yvanhoe (564877)
          And what about the scenario proposed : a skype/messenger discussion ?
  • Because Microsoft already had a trademark on scowl???

  • "Snowl"? (Score:5, Funny)

    by adavies42 (746183) on Friday August 08, 2008 @05:26AM (#24522211)
    Isn't the appropriate response to this name "ORLY"?
  • if you have to install libpurple you might as well install a complete Pidgin package, you know - that multi-protocol chat client named after a dirty bird that poops on statues...
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by JeremyBanks (1036532)
      Pidgin - A linguistically simplified, mixed and restricted language used in limited contact situations between people who have no common language.
      • by Culture20 (968837)

        if you have to install libpurple you might as well install a complete Pidgin

        Pidgin - A linguistically simplified, mixed and restricted language used in limited contact situations between people who have no common language.

        Man one (John): "if true; then yum yum pidgin;"
        Man two (Fi): "syntax error"
        "if true?; then yum yum pidgin; fi"
        "true? command not found"
        "look; I'm not trying to discuss metaphysics, I just want to know if pidgin ka-bobs taste good."
        "usage: look [-bdf] [-t char] string [file ...]"

  • by MosesJones (55544) on Friday August 08, 2008 @06:08AM (#24522395) Homepage

    No seriously. Fire up the usenet reader in Emacs and look at the scoring system. Very simple just +/- on users and threads but over time it becomes very powerful at filtering out the crap. Something like that with Bayesian maths around it would be great.

    And of course you could display the dates in Mayan, with a bit of modding, which is useful given that this is what apparently tells us the end of the world [greatdreams.com]

  • And what... (Score:3, Funny)

    by comm2k (961394) on Friday August 08, 2008 @06:43AM (#24522541)
    will Debians fork be called.. FireOwl? Mozilla guys stick to the heat and stormy side of elements - the icey stuff is taken by the Debianites.
  • It looks like any other amateurish RSS/atom/blah reader with three pane view and a "newspaper" view only not finished.

    The plugin page even says it barely a prototype and that storage and features will be broken in the next iteration.

    The roadmap clearly state that they have not much clue where to go next. My suggestion would be to look at software who are already trying to do the same and figure out their strong ideas and mistakes. e.g.: http://www.jetbrains.com/omea/ [jetbrains.com]

    If I needed information about un

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