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First Look: Mozilla Snowl

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Cute. First Apple gave us Snow Leopard and now Mozilla gives us the Snow Owl…will snow* be the prefix for all experimental software products as we head into the next decade? Here’s to Snowrevenue and Snowhope!

Returning to Snowl, hot on the heels of Mozilla Lab’s call for participation in exploring the future of the browser, and the experimental Weave service, comes Mozilla’s efforts to move messaging beyond email and to the types of communication now commonplace across social networks, blogs and services such as Twitter.

Mozilla’s Myk Melez describes Snowl as a browser extension that helps users ‘follow and participate in online discussions’ and track all your conversations across various networks, services, protocols and messaging types.

Snowl purportedly aggregates messages from email services, syndicated feeds, forums and social networks and seeks to rank or prioritize them in order of importance, by varying the interface used to browse them – alternating between a Google Reader style ‘river of news‘ and a more traditional email-like three pane view.

Now this all sounds very lovely, but it’s kinda ‘meh’ – all Snowl seems to do is chop up some message data into a different presentation, there doesn’t seem to be any intelligence in analyzing the patterns of communications to figure out what’s most important and relevant to the user and those they communicate with.

Everyday, I’m hammered with a couple hundred emails, as many Twitters, probably around 1500 RSS items, dozens of SMS and MMS messages, thousands of instant messages and social network notifications, and a handful of phone calls. Many of us need tools to make sense of this soup, tools that can cross reference emailers and callers with calendar entries and locations to figure out what’s important and what can be pushed aside.

Sadly, right now, Snowl isn’t helping bring together mobile, voice and internet messaging into anything useful that addresses the problem at hand. And it’s a tough problem, requiring many different technologies and interests to work well together and some real innovation in AI and user interfaces…I’m afraid a river of news and three-pane view doesn’t cut it Mozilla.

Snowway Jose!

4 Responses to “First Look: Mozilla Snowl”

  1. Looks like Mozilla might be trying to take a page from M$ and their unified communications platform – IM, VoiP, Email and Calendars all talking to each other and sharing data. An open source version of this tech will be insanely useful.

    Imagine getting an email from someone important amidst 300 other messages – Then having that message shot to the top of your queue because Snowl (or whatever) knows you’ve had 2 voip conversations, a couple IM conversations, and that you’ve posted to a facebook profile. Then having all these records one click away so you can review them before responding to the email.

    Can’t wait.

  2. From what I’ve seen the initial prototype does not even support all the text-based messaging protocols – Twitter and RSS definitely is not everything. I’m not sure if anyone will be able to come up with a solution to sort out all the mess that we face daily with all our messages but Snowl does not seem to even promise it – I think the major idea is simply to move messaging from everywhere we have it and into a browser. But what’s the difference if I still need to switch between tabs?