First up is something called Personas. Personas is a neat little extension that lets you modify the Firefox theme on the fly. You are presented with a small menu, accessible via an icon on the status bar. From the menu, you can choose from a number of different “themes” that will change the design of the default Firefox theme.
Overall, personas is just a neat little extension with no real purpose other than breaking up the monotony. You can set it to randomly select a persona, which will cause the persona to change for each instance of the browser. More options are definitely needed, such as a custom list of personas to choose from, but it’s a decent start.
More interesting, however, is the second technology I’d like to present. Dubbed Weave, this technology is a bit more on-par with what I’ve been looking forward to for years. Weave presents the user with a way to record their individual user settings, store them on a remote server, and sync them up with any other installation of Firefox. In fact, Weave aims to allow the user to sync their preferences with other third-party applications, such as social networks and browsers.
To be honest, I have no real interest whatsoever in social networks. I avoid MySpace like the plague, and I haven’t bothered to look into Facebook at all. My on-line collaboration, thus far, has been mostly through traditional means, Instant Message, E-Mail, and the Web. In fact, I’m not sure any of my online activities fall into the so-called “Social” category. So, my interest here lies merely in the distribution of my personal metadata between applications that I access. I would love to be able to “log in” to any computer and immediately download my browser settings, bookmarks, and maybe even my browsing history. Having all of that information in one central location that can be accessed whenever I need it is a wonderful thought.
I currently use the Bookmark Sync and Sort extension which allows me to upload my bookmarks to my own personal server and synchronize them with other installations of Firefox. Other such extensions exist to allow you to sync with Google, Foxmarks, and more, but I prefer to have complete control over my data, rather than placing it on a third-party server.
Weave promises to be an open framework for metadata handling, or services integration. The offer the following view of the process (click for larger image) :
In essence, you access your metadata via a web browser, phone, or some other third-party application. That application, being Weave-aware, allows you to view and manipulate your metadata. You can choose to make some of your data available to outside users, such as friends and family, or even make it completely open to the world. At the same time, any new metadata you create is automatically synchronized with the central servers, updating it instantly wherever you access it.
Weave looks to be a pretty exciting project, one I plan on keeping an eye on.