Do you like to know what sort of music, movies, books, and other things your friends like? If so, you have a couple of options for following your friends' interests on the web today. You can either join a social network dedicated to sharing this information (think Goodreads, Flixster, Last.fm) or you can follow your friends on lifestreaming service like FriendFeed where you might happen upon a shared interest somewhere in their stream of updates. A third option would be to only see your friends' interests in context when you were actively viewing a book, movie, album, etc. on the web.

If that last option sounds appealing to you, then you've just been sold on the concept of Glue, a new semantic browser plugin that connects you to your friends around everyday things like books, movies, music, restaurants, and more.

What's Glue?

Glue is a new browser plugin from Adaptive Blue. It uses semantic technology to connect you to your friends around things like books, music, movies, stars, artists, stocks, wine, restaurants, and more. The plugin places a bar - not a toolbar, just a bar - at the top of your browser window when you visit certain popular web sites like Amazon, Yahoo! Finance, Wine.com, IMDB, Wikipedia, Citysearch, Last.fm, and many others.

As you read about the album, movie, book, or whatever else it is that you're viewing at the time, you'll have a toolbar at the top of the page where you can see which of your friends had visited the same page, if they liked it, and if they left a comment.

Glue Is Not Co-browsing

Glue is not a co-browsing plugin like Me.dium nor does it try to socialize the entire web surfing experience like Socialbrowse (our coverage). Also, unlike Headup, another semantic browser plugin we covered recently, Glue doesn't bother you with pop-up messages as you surf. Glue simply provides a social element to web pages in context - there's no destination site to join and your social graph doesn't need to be re-created in order to use it.

How It Works

In order to tap into your network of friends, Glue uses APIs from popular social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed to import your friends. You can choose to import one or all of those friend lists into the plugin.

To participate in the Glue network, all you do is continue browsing the web normally. When you visit a supported site, the Glue friend bar appears. If you choose, you can view what your friends say about the item on the page, or you can ignore the bar and continue on your way. However, your visit is recorded and when one of your friends visits that same page, they can see that you've been there recently, though not the exact date or time your visit occurred. This information is only stored for the last 20 things you've visited on the web.

While surfing, if you want to share your thoughts about the item you're viewing, you can optionally use the Glue "like" button and/or the "2 cents" button which lets you add a quick thought about item. You can also click on the bar to see the profiles of your friends, other recent Glue users, and you can explore their interests even further by clicking into their profiles, which display in a pop-up box that appears when you click their avatar. You can also optionally click on "Actions" to explore the item you're viewing on other Glue-supported sites.

Making The Social Web Relevant

By providing this social experience in context, Glue can actually be more useful to you than simply joining isolated social networks surrounding your interests where your data and that of your friends is trapped inside the network's walls. It may also have some appeal over a lifestreaming service like FriendFeed, because you don't have to happen across the information - it's there when you're actively interested in something and have sought it out on the web.

In the official version coming soon, the company is also soon going to provide a method for any web publisher to "Glue-enable" their site by simply adding AB Meta to their sites, by inserting three lines of code in the header of a page.

Glue is the next generation of the Adaptive Blue plugin, a tool that currently has around 350,000 active users. Current Adaptive Blue users will find their plugin updated to Glue through the standard Firefox plugin update process. For everyone else, you can download the plugin here.

Although at the present time Glue is available as a Firefox plugin only, an IE version is in the works and an iPhone plugin will arrive in a few weeks.


Disclosure: AdaptiveBlue's CEO, Alex Iskold, is a feature writer for RWW.