A new Web browser with a socially conscious streak was released for public tryout Thursday night by a group of 15 young entrepreneurs housed in a garage just off the Stanford University campus in Northern California.
Flock, as it is called, is a Mozilla Firefox-based, freely downloadable open-source browser that aims to get users around the Web quickly and efficiently, but integrates a number of Web services right into the software.
Users can post a Weblog entry, build and share photo collections, and share favorite Web sites (bookmarks are for books, Flock says) with friends-all in one place.
That place is within the browser itself.
In short, Flock (this beta version is called the "Flock 0.5pre Developer Snapshot") aggregates a number of services usually delivered through a variety of separate Web sites and presents them in ways that are intuitive for users.
Analysts estimate there are 10 million to 15 million sophisticated Internet users writing Internet journals-the number is growing daily-and Flock believes this is a prime target market.
For example, when a user discovers a Web site about which he or she wants to post a comment in a blog, the user just right-clicks on the mouse, which then brings up the Flock blogging wizard (Blog Manager).
The browser software then automatically opens a blank blog entry and adds citations and links for the site that originally caught the users attention.
Flock also has a built-in RSS integration option, so that users can easily scan news headlines and click through to those pages for more information.
Through a partnership with Vancouver, B.C.-based Flickr, Flock offers the Flickr Topbar, which allow users to drag and drop pictures into a blog post.
Flock also a sort of scrapbook for interesting Web content called The Shelf.
Users can drag interesting URLs, pictures or text snippets from any Web page onto it. From there, these items can be inserted into a blogpost.