FireFly Enables Freaky Real-Time Visitor Spying

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When I first saw the demo of FireFly, my instant reaction was, “no freaking way!”. Turns out I was wrong, and yes, there is one freaking way — it’s called FireFly. Launching recently at the Tech Meetup in New York, it’s a product of combinator/VC firm BetaWorks. Undoubtedly, it’s received a response no less than amazement in the blogosphere (Dave Winer wrote about it as did Allen Stern.)

The best way to describe it is this: it’s a simple flash widget that anyone can embed which lets you, and your site visitors, watch and interact with each other at a given moment. Obviously, this means visitors can chat to each other, but here’s the cool part: they can practically watch the mouse movements of other visitors on the site at a given time. What they’re clicking on, what they’re highlighting, everything.

It’s a form of spying, I’ll admit, but it is ridiculously and very freakishly cool. The site it is currently in a private beta, and I was unable to send a request by the time I wanted to get this post out, but you can see a working demo on their site — just click the “View Demo” button. If the FireFly folks are reading this — I would love to get an invite so I can embed the widget to this post.

Why would such a technology be useful? I have no idea. Visitor interaction or something like that. But the point is, it’s possible. And there definitely a lot of useful applications. To put this into context, it is basically using a simple web browser and Flash to multi-screenwatch a number of people’s mouse movements. Now that is something.


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