AdaptiveBlue takes a fresh tack with Glue, a semantic social network

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AdaptiveBlue’s latest version of its browser plug-in is a complete revamp of its BlueOrganizer product. Now called Glue, it aims to synthesize semantic technology that connects information about books, music, movies and similar subjects with the browsing habits and commentary of your friends.

Take a book listing on Amazon.com, for example. AdaptiveBlue’s plug-in directly injects links and information into the web pages you’re browsing without having to move to another site. So you’ll be able to see the parallel listing for Barnes & Noble, and any Wikipedia entry on the book, to name a few. What defines AdaptiveBlue’s new product, though, is the ability to add friends and other surfers to the mix.

With Glue, if any other users have visited that same book, whether on Amazon or another site, the plug-in will flash a bar showing them. You can then see where else others have been browsing — completely, anonymously of course. Users can also say whether they liked the book, and leave comments if they want. Though the assumption is that most users will remain passive most of the time.

Glue will only track the last 20 objects any user visited, but it could build up information over time on what users like and dislike, as well as provide a sort of recommendation network. The one problem for AdaptiveBlue is that — because most of what it follows are products (stocks are a new exception) — the companies selling them already include their own recommendation and comment sections.

In the Amazon example, the company not only suggests similar books, but also offers user-created lists. These suggestions are a vital part of the marketing strategy for companies like Amazon to become more relevant and useful.

All Glue offers in addition is the chance to see what your friends are interested in, provided they also use Glue, and only if you’ve become friends with them on the service. Given all these caveats, and the low added value to start (although Glue could build up useful info over time), it doesn’t seem likely that people will flock to the social aspect of Glue.

Still, founder Alex Iskold says that the 600 beta testers the company used were “very excited,” and that there are plenty of sites that don’t offer recommendations where Glue might come in handy. Ultimately, whether people will want to use Glue or not will come down to surfing habits, and the plug-in does have a smooth, easy-to-use interface going for it.

To date, about 1.7 million people have downloaded AdaptiveBlue’s BlueOrganizer plug-in, and 350,000 of them are active users. They’ll probably be migrated to Glue within about a month. The New York company also recently raised $4.5 million, led by RRE Ventures and with participation from Union Square Ventures.


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