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This article was published on August 1, 2008

    Firef.ly: Chat about nothing everywhere

    Firef.ly: Chat about nothing everywhere
    Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
    Story by

    Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

    Founder & board member, TNW

    Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and pr.co. Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.

    Cursor humpingYesterday Firef.ly went into open beta. In case you were wondering: .LY is the top level domain extension for Lybia.

    Firefly is officially a chat service but could just as easily be describes as ‘Twitter on other sites’. Site owners add two lines of Javascript to their pages and get a widget that gives their users the option to add little floating text balloons on pages.

    The service looks very simple to use and extremely cute. All images are shiny and well designed and installation and usage are very simple. That’s the good news.

    The bad news is that contrary to Twitter the chat is extremely fragmented. Competitors to Twitter never take off because everybody keeps coming back to Twitter. Firef.ly is everywhere an might as well be nowhere.

    Then there is the debatable value of the comments. It is a problem that affects a lot of annotation, (DISCLOSURE: I started Fleck.com, another annotation service) chat and comment services. Given the chance to say something it often turns out that most people don’t actually have anything to say. As you can see in the screenshot a typical Firef.ly enriched site generates a bit of uninteresting buzz on a page but hardly any meaningful conversation.

    That doesn’t mean the whole service is useless though. If you have a site with a large userbase and tight community it might be interesting to see what happens if you add Firef.ly to your website. Give it a try and let us know how it works for you.