Up with Downfly

For the past few days I have been trying out Downfly, a Firefox extension that allows you to email webpage links to one or more of your friends, without having to cut-and-paste the URL in your email message. That sounds simple enough, but what really is interesting is that Downfly can track where those links go, i.e., if any of your friends forward them to others.

Think of it as yet-another twist on bookmarking services that litter the tech landscape. But one of the reasons I got intrigued by this extension is because it fits into my theory of ultra-personal social networks. My good friend Pip Coburn calls it extreme personalization.

The social networks that matter are the ones which are the closest to you – one or two degrees of separation. A good example would be folks in your Phone’s address book or contacts on your PC. These are the people, whose opinions (and relationships) are more important than to some random person. So if they like a bookmark, there is a good chance I will too. Downfly does precisely that.

Downfly is the brainchild of 20-something programmer, Billy Chasen who has working on this for past year and is backed by angel funding from John Borthwick, Seth Goldstein and Brad Reifler. “The idea behind is that most other services are about comments, votes or clicks. This is about your personal social network’s validation of a link,” says Chasen, “which makes these links more valuable. ”

When you sign-up for the service, import your contacts and basically create groups. You can email the links to a specific person, or to an entire group. The more a link gets sent around, the higher the authority (and relevance) of that link. You can subscribe to other people’s Downfly (if they make it public.)

The best part is that recpients of the links don’t need to use the plug-in or download one. The service goes one step further and emails them a compiled list of the links sent to their email (from you and anyone else who sent to them) as one simple digest, at a set time.

The site is butt-ugly, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from trying this service. And even if you don’t care about this service as much, you would be helping a one-man company with your comments and feedback.

Check out this video to get a better idea how Downfly works.