by Christopher Paul on June 14, 2006

So I’m browsing the Interweb and I see this article on Flock. Based on the same Mozilla engine that powers FireFox, Flock (aptly titled, I think) integrates tools and features for the new Web 2.0 craze of social something-or-other.

Social networking/bookmarking/sharing/whatever is the newest thing to hit the wired world and it offers new opportunities for people to communicate with one another and businesses to earn money off those social services. Typically, these Web 2.0 companies are funded with VC (as in venture capital for the noob) similar to that of the Web 1.0 or Dot Com craze/bubble/crash/ of before. These sites typically use newer programming concepts like Ruby, Ruby on Rails, AJAX, DHTML, to deliver dynamic web pages for a fast and interactive user experience. Some popular social sites include Flickr, Basecamp, Listible, Digg, Del.icio.us, Writely, YouTube and a whole lot more.

So anyway…

Flock integrates into Flickr, MySpace, and similar services. Your favorites: all your Del.icio.us bookmarks – with tags! You can post to any Blogger, Drupal, LiveJournal, MoveableType, Typepad or WordPress blog. In fact, I’m writing this post using Flock right now!

Because Flock is based off of the Mozilla engine, it renders web pages just like Firefox. It shares virtually all the features of FireFox including extensions and themes. Even the options page looks the same. There is tabbed browsing and everything. Not all of the current extensions work with Flock but it is relatively easy to convert them to their format. People have already created applications to do that for your favorite extension that hasn’t been converted already.

I’m not endorsing Flock (yet) because its not perfect. Mostly because the extensions don’t all convert well or work the same. But then again, FireFox is already at 1.5 – soon to be 2.0 – and Flock is only at 0.7 Beta 1. For a 0.7, its damn good just not as matured as FireFox. When I do endorse it, all those extension bugs will have been worked out. However, I am really excited that this idea had enough success to get this far.

One other concern of mine is its apparent ties to Yahoo. I don’t like Yahoo. It’s hard to say why but it boils down to subjective reasons that I have and don’t really share. Yes, I know Yahoo owns Flickr and Del.icio.us but I don’t really consider them Yahoo IP because at this point in time, 90+% of the code, concept, and spirit of these sites didn’t come from Yahoo and if it ever gets to a point that Yahoo “upgrades” these services, I’m willing to bet that many people will not be pleased with what they are served.

Regardless of what you think of Yahoo, its hard not to notice the “plugs” Flock gives them and the disses (is that really a word?) it gives other sites. The default page is Yahoo (which looks like Google’s homepage and not the the ugly heavy Yahoo homepage). Flickr and Del.icio.us are Yahoo offerings and the setup wizard places them first in the list of sites to integrate into. There is no mention of Riya or Zoomr. Conspiracy theory? Probably not. Developing a product like this can’t be easy and you can’t expect every feature under the sun for the first beta – I realize that. But with such ties to Yahoo, I wonder if Flock can ever grow and integrate into other social sites if Yahoo is behind all that VC funding they just got.

I fully understand why Yahoo would want to partner with Flock; it makes great business sense (Google, are you coming out with that browser yet?). I would want to do the same thing. I also understand why Flock would want to partner with Yahoo; what an easy way to get bought or extra VC. It’s not like Microsoft is giving any of that up to them. Let’s just hope that any partnerships don’t obscure the original concept and essence of Flock.

Now that I’ve ranted, check out Flock and give it a try. I don’t think you will disappointed. I’ll be using it for a while and give my two cents after a few days of using it.

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