Is Flock The Social Media Living Room?

George sent me a message on twitter today suggesting I check out the new Flock 1.0. I did that just now and I am intrigued by the people sidebar I now have in my browser. It’s the first time I have seen all my friends from Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube aggregated in one place.


I am not yet sure how useful it will be, but at a minimum I am going to use Flock for a little while to see how this works.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Dave Winer

    My first reaction — if they follow this to its logical conclusion they will turn the web browser into an email client. The cool thing about the web is that it’s for publishing, which at its root means “public.” Email, by its nature is the opposite — it’s personal, non-public. P2P. Both modes of communication are necessary of course. Yin and yang, zig and zag.

    1. fredwilson

      i like seeing status updates and twitter posts in a single stream dave. i wish twitterific did this.

  2. vruz

    Whilst Flock does indeed seem to get some things right, I can’t really see it taking off as it is today, for many different reasons.1) Flock doesn’t do anything that Facebook, Flickr, Twitter etc. (collectivelly named hereupon as “the services” 🙂 don’t do themselves via their web interfaces or alternative 3rd party clients.It does sign you on automatically yes, but I get that with Firefox already, it does have a Twitter sidebar yes, but I have that already with Twitbin on Firefox.In economic terms, Flock attempts to be a substitute for the services clients. Even if running properly, efficiently and conveniently arranged -which I assume it does- it doesn’t really add value to what is already in place elsewhere, and there’s obviously no room to compete in price when $ 0 is the standard price tag for all of the services clients.I’m not even getting to discuss where they will get money from.2) It’s not really a mashup. Flock does the integration work for you, but other than that, it’s a monolithic application. It’s Firefox plus widgets and a convenient user interface. There’s no platform for third parties to develop on top of it. There’s no community to support it , they don’t run any of the services they consume, and there’s no social network around it. It runs detached from the Mozilla community that provides 90% of the code. Again: not even getting to discuss where they will get money from.I could see something like a Flock2 -but not the current Flock- helping people create mashups, interconnecting applications and services to create something *NEW*. Now that would be creating some actual value.I really believe the future of the web will be an organic, evolutive way of mixing apps together.Flock isn’t organic, and its evolution depends solely on the Flock development team, as it stands now all the pieces together aren’t more than the sum of its parts.But there’s plenty of time ahead, let’s see what they come up with next 🙂

  3. Turker

    Just like you were, I got very excited about the People sidebar and used the browser for about a day. Then it started to feel a bit cluttered. It seemed to me that it would be more useful if your only purpose is to browse social media. Otherwise, it quickly gets in the way and becomes more distracting than FF. I had to go back to FF. But I have to say, it felt a little faster than FF at rendering pages.

  4. John G

    @vruz – But it does do something, why do i want to go to 4 or more different sites to see what my social graph constituents are “publishing?” Like Fred, my friend and their UG world is distributed, and that distribution is only growing. My friends almost all have multiple “homes” or contribution points on the net plus multiple emails, IM applications, a mobile phone and a start page. We are all inherently publishers, actors, contributors in the connected world and just as with other traditional media and goods and services content, aggregation will have a role. Services like Kayak, RSS, iGoogle etc all exist to solve problems for users and make money.Lets be clear, Facebook, MySpace, Google et al will NEVER become the webs social platform.. Not possible, the web will be the platform. Next, I and others will continue to join new communities and leave others. Finally, and most importantly, my social constituents will continue to “U generate” more and more content or info trails which I might find interesting or educational. I need “mini feeds” and “walls” for my whole world not in silos… Also the exact thing which drives the structure of FB and others, a philosophy of page views, is their weakness in terms of usability. Navigation is point to point not panoramic and visual like google earth, maps etc.So look for a different kind of Flock to emerge, soon ;-). One that builds on top of the increasing openness of disparate platforms, is more visually intuitive and easier to view and navigate ones social graph and UG outputs (think Cnets big picture visualization graph, and Flash or silverlight components), and which works with the main “start” and “live” pages for most users.. ie leading web email apps and start pages, and IM platforms..

    1. vruz

      um…. how is this *future* different from what I said ?I don’t think we have diverging views, though we’re certainly focused on different things.The bigger part of my comment focused on the current product as it stands today, whilst you decided to focus on that future I didn’t even try to talk about…. because the comment was about *this* product review.You’re believing in a future that is not here yet, certainly not in Flock 1.0, and possibly… maybe one day in a later incarnation of Flock, which we’re still unable to review right now 🙂

  5. George

    I think Flock (or something like Flock) is the Social Media Living Room. Interface aside (and I think the UI is pretty badass), what’s cool about the integration with Delicious, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, TypePad, etc. is that it flips the script. Traditional browsing experiences are all about passively consuming content. Flock gives primacy to interactions with your clan. If it’s the social media living room, it’s one where the focus is on interaction and dialog instead of one where the tv’s always on.Sure, this kind of functionality lives in discrete plugins for Firefox (the more of which you add, the more your browser starts to behave like a greased pig trying the scramble uphill). But there’s something special, something different about the Flock 1.0 experience. It feels the next step. It’s a whole lotta fun. And it pretty seamlessly changes the primary characteristic of a browsing experience from passively consuming to genuinely interacting.

    1. vruz

      To me, it feels more like a *hint* of the next step.What if startup-X from the middle of nowhere wants to integrate their own ubercool new web 7.0 service ?they can’t. or they have to ask Flock nicely. There, you get Flock “fenced” garden (to put it in a relatively mild way).Or they can develop a plug-in for Firefox. (but we already had that, right ?)Whilst the idea points in the right direction (aggregating services) it does so with a monolythic implementation that doesn’t really allow for mashups in their truest sense.If anything good came out of the current crop of (please excuse the term) -web 2.0- startups, that is precisely their openness and the free pass to play together well.This is something Flock -in its current incarnation- takes away from the web, and repackages it under a nice appearance, yet cutting off one of the most important things we learned in the past few years.In this sense, Flock is definitely a step backwards.I sure hope Flock will point in the right direction in the future, but that’s not something you can take for granted with the hard evidence you have at hand today.

  6. Anonymous

    vruz – Flock is both a platform and a product. Flock is almost done with an API to accompany the release of 1.0. Assistance for developers and external service providers is already available today on and Flock is an open source company.

  7. mark casebold

    I have been using it for three days and am utterly addicted. Twitter. Facebook. Twitter. Facebook. All my friends and their fresh status magically rise to the top of the awesome “people” sidebar. Bye bye Firefox. Cya cloggy extensions. Helloooo Flock.

  8. Evan Hamilton

    Hey folks,Anonymous has it right: Flock can be developed for/on just like Firefox can be. We have a fantastic community of developers and non-developers (…. Many Firefox extensions already work in Flock. And we’re currently working on enhancing our developer documentation and tools ( to make it even easier for third parties to integrate other services into Flock. We have no interest in being a walled garden…we’re all about bringing the fragmented social web together.If you’d like more info, visit the above link or drop me a line at flock dot com.Great conversation, for the record…Flock aside, the future of these scattered social networks and webapps is something I find incredibly intriguing and complex. Things only get more interesting from here.Flock on,Evan HamiltonFlock Community Ambassadorevan at flock dot com