Glue is a free Firefox add-on that lets you take your social network to every major site you visit. At heart, it's a semantic Web tool: it can "read" and contextualize the content on the sites you visit, and serve up your friends' thoughts in a little toolbar on the top of the window.
Say you're on Amazon, and you're considering buying a DVD of Pineapple Express. Glue will pop down and tell you what your friends thought of the movie—whether they mentioned it on Twitter, read about it on Fandango, or looked it up on Wikipedia. All in all, Glue knows of hundreds of popular sites where people research and review everything from actors, musicians, films, and TV shows to restaurants, wine, and books. Check out the demo below:
Glue 4.2 Overview from AdaptiveBlue on Vimeo.
Obviously, having this kind of connectivity around a given product or place is a seller's dream. But unlike ill-conceived services like Facebook's Beacon, Glue doesn't exist to hawk wares. According to Alex Iskold, the service's founder and CEO, it's meant to make more useful the friend-feed trope that has become so popular in new Web services.
The problem, says Iskold, is that while we have a lot of data on our friends—tweets, blog posts, news feeds—it's all based on recency, not topic. Let's say one of my friends tweets about Pineapple Express, but I don't see it; within days, it's buried in the mass of data streaming from that friend every day. When I hit IMDB to check out that movie, though, Glue will find my friend's tweet and make it available immediately—regardless of whether it was written six days ago or six months ago.
But even if selling isn't the ultimate goal of the concept, it should be for some users, thanks to two new features: Glue widgets and Glue for blogs.
With these two updates, Glue can now bring its semantic brains into your blog posts and your personal Web site with relative ease. Mention a book, movie, restaurant or artist? Add a "SmartLink" to the name, and allow the blog post to become part of Glue's schema of data on that name.
This is particularly useful if you're the company or person behind the product or idea that's getting SmartLinked. Owners of restaurants, authors of books, actors, TV writers, wine-makers, and anyone with a creative product to sell should consider Glue an option for the next step in their Web marketing strategy. Getting your friends to tweet, review, and talk up your creative venture is great, but as Iskold points out, their contributions are quickly lost to the fast-moving sands of Internet time. Get them to SmartLink their chatter on Glue, however, and it will stay current for Glue's network of several hundred thousand users. (Below, a SmartLink menu).
For the friends that are established bloggers or run popular sites, Glue widgets are another way to find some staying power in the data river—and make it available for non-Glue users as well. Widgets are quick to build and easy to embed, and they're "viral"—meaning that anyone who likes the widget can embed it in their own site, too.
You don't have to be a Glue user to see or use the widgets, which displays an author's books or a musicians albums with mouse-over menus for reviews, summaries and links to buy. (If you're really into the widget thing, AdaptiveBlue, Glue's parent company, can build you a custom widget.) The artist can also cross-promote friends' books and albums in their widgets to maximize exposure.
Glue's only stumbling block is adoption; ironically, it's a product that attempts to unify social media and popular sites by creating one more site and one more social media tool. But signing up for Glue is painless and brief—you can even login with Facebook Connect and port some data over—and lets users add leverage to their participation in the rest of the social Web. For anyone trying to push their personal brand, it's well worth a look.