Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Me.dium: Bringing social to the web

Category: Showcase

Me.dium Logo

We have heard that a major part of Web 2.0 is the ‘social’ side of things. That being said, most of the time we are working on the web in solitary mode. There are the odd sharing applications such as sitting with a buddy in front of Google Spreadsheet, but in the most part you feel like being in an empty library.

Me.dium is a startup that is trying to change that. They are trying to add context to the online web browsing world. As they put it: If you in front of three restaurants in the real world; the fact that one is full, another is empty, and the last has three friends means something. It gives you valuable context.

Me.dium is a Firefox extension (soon to be IE7 Add-on and even more in the future) that let’s you visualize the world a little more. You can see your friends browsing, all with relevance letting you know who is doing similar things, and letting you chat with those people. Some get concerned that the tool is collecting your entire clickstream, but privacy is a major concern for me.dium so they make sure you know that:

  • Anonymity can be turned on at any time. It is so important that they add a button next to the URL that allows you to toggle screens up or down.
  • Secure side: https is automatically taken out of the loop
  • A quick email to will remove the data that they have associated with your account
  • Their algorithm does not track every URL that you visit. It only captures data it needs to make smart recommendations, and a lot of data is stripped out.

We asked their tech team a few questions about the extension, as it is an interesting piece of work:

Can you tell us a little about the implementation?

The Firefox extension is as minimal as possible. It is an empty shell that includes the Ajax application from the web. This is different than a lot of Firefox extensions, that you see upgrading all the time. Since the shell will not have to change often, you will not see an update, yet the application will be constantly updating due to the fact that it is basically a web page. A smart pattern.

The core work is done with the Dojo Toolkit (recently upgraded to the 0.4 release). The main packages of use are the language helpers, widget structure, animation, and math. The remote communication is actually done through the Firefox extension mechanism for security.

Why Dojo?

It had the most advanced structure for building widgets, and we connected with the development philosophy and style. We have been nothing less than impressed. The application is really pushing the boundaries, and so far Dojo is coping very well indeed. It really is more than the sum of its parts.

Once you use me.dium, you see a lot of animation. How is that implemented?

We do not use the latest dojo.lfx package yet (as it is so new, and we don’t quite need the vector drawing yet). We do use the traditional dojo animation libraries for effects such as sliding and fading. We also have a particle physics engine that uses the math package.

Does the chat client use polling or comet?

We use a comet based approach for pushing all events to the client. This is currently implemented via the Jetty Asynchronous services available in the server.

What was one of the tough challenges?

Getting complex hierarchical widgets working. When we started Dojo didn’t allow sub widgets, so we had to hack it to work. The client itself is a root widget that has a large set of subwidgets below it. Getting the custom scrollbar that we have working with the layout container was also challenging.

The me.dium project is currently in an early stage. Although it is a private beta right now, Ajaxian has an exclusive signup code that will work for the first 500 people to signup (others will be put on the waiting list). The signup code is: AJX14N06

Be sure to watch out for future interesting updates, including a lot of Ajax functionality on the website as well as the extension.

And if you like what you see, me.dium is hiring ajax developers for their Boulder office.


Posted by Dion Almaer at 9:17 am

3.6 rating from 37 votes


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I talked with these guys at the ajax experience. it looked good then, and it looks like they are improving it by the day. Looking forward to trying the beta.

Comment by David — November 15, 2006

Did 500 people already sign up?

I got an e-mail saying, “We have your email on file and look forward to inviting you to our general availability launch this winter. In the meantime, we will do our best to keep you updated on our progress and any big news.”

Comment by Scott Schiller — November 15, 2006

Scott-> got the same message – sucks =(

Comment by Fredrik Holm — November 15, 2006

Code no worky.

Comment by Andrew Herron — November 15, 2006

Dion, that’s for the nice write up on Me.dium.

Regarding the invite code: looks like we had a little problem with it. It’s now fixed. Sorry about that.

For those that ended up on the waiting list we’ll send you a direct invite in the next few hours.

Thanks for your patience.

– Herb

Comment by Herb Morreale — November 15, 2006

As this uses just a simple shell which calls the rest via AJAX would you be able to put this into an opera panel? Would be quite a nice thing to have as a panel.

Comment by Matt Oakes — November 15, 2006

[…] Más en Ajaxian […]

Pingback by despuesdegoogle » Archivo del weblog » Me.dium, navegación social en tiempo real — November 15, 2006

This goes out to Medium, about 3 months ago we were trying to use Jetty to do our comet interactions. I’m guessing you’re limiting your beta because it doesn’t scale, because ours didn’t. The way they are doing continuations in Jetty is a total hack. They bubble and trap runtime exceptions to hold on to the socket. Well, it sucks and it doesn’t scale. Good luck, you’re going to have to either buy a shit load of hardware or your going to find yourself rewriting parts of Jetty to get it to scale. We ended up going to Tomcat and hacking it a bit to “steal” the socket and hold on to it. That way, we have ONE socket per user. This is the only way to truly scale this crap without buying boatloads of hardware. Again, good luck with comet.

Comment by Snootz — November 15, 2006

This thing is great …it doesn’t quite work with Bon Echo though (nightly builds) FYI.

Comment by xxdesmus — November 15, 2006

Maybe me.dium could use cometd :)

Comment by David Davis — November 15, 2006

[…] Ajaxian » Me.dium: Bringing social to the web Me.dium takes a step beyond buddy lists and delicious networks to show you what your online friends are doing at each moment in time. And it’s in Boulder too, cool. (tags: colorado presence social-media social-tools) […]

Pingback by Anne 2.0 » Blog Archive » links for 2006-11-15 — November 15, 2006

You know, I really don’t want to know that my friends are surfing goatse when they forget to turn the privacy feature on.

Comment by Silly — November 15, 2006

@xxdesmus: Nightly builds of Gecko are in alpha, which makes it rather pointless to adapt any app to.

Comment by José Jeria — November 16, 2006

[…] (via Ajaxian) […]

Pingback by Webby’s World » me.dium: Social surfing — November 18, 2006

DOJO is fucking CRAP so this project also is CRAP CRAP CRAP!!!!

Comment by teletubbie — November 20, 2006

[…] J’ai testé Me.dium It’s about sharing, giving , surfing … bringing social to the web. […]

Pingback by Me.dium: Naviguer en mode Web-social at Blogin’i harinjaka — November 22, 2006

[…] An integrated presence/IM/phone call widget that would tell me about the status of my social and work networks and would let me IM any of my contacts using their preferred network. [Ha ha! Keep dreaming!] It would display an integrated buddy list from the various IMs that my friends and family use. It’d be really cool if it included any public info about them–where they are with the time and weather of where they are, what’s on their calendar at that moment, what music they’re listening to, if they’ve just posted anything online like a blog post or a bookmark. It’d be a turbocharged combo of me.dium, meebo, skype, and iotum. It would let me specify my own status (online or off, busy or not, what I’m working on, how to reach me, etc.) and publish it through all the IM networks that my contacts are on. It would let me make phone calls too then record them as podcasts with the click of a button. We are so far from doing this. The start page vendors are obviously not to blame, since they’re hampered by the proliferation of IM networks. But this to me is critical information to combine, distill, and display on my start page. […]

Pingback by Anne 2.0 » Blog Archive » Evaluating Ajax Start Pages — December 2, 2006

If you guys like me.dium, YOU WILL FALL IN LOVE WITH “DAI.SY”

> MEET your fellow website visitors
> SHARE with them any folder on your PC
> leave a BLOG for those that come After you

Comment by Federico ViCaDi — December 20, 2006

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