November 4th, 2009
Nebul.us has a not so nebulous tie to Portland (and I’ve got some invites)
We all spend a great deal of time online. And that’s putting it mildly. But do you really know how that time is spent? I mean, what are you really doing out there on the Web and when are you doing what?
That’s what a new startup called nebul.us is trying to determine—by tapping into your browser and helping you visualize where you’re spending your time and effort.
That’s cool. But what’s even cooler—at least from my perspective—is that the lead developer is from right here in Portland.
So who’s the Rose City resident helping develop this new visualization play? None other than Kris Wallsmith. Turns out that—in addition to serving as the release manager and community manager for symfony, a full-stack PHP Web application framework—he’s been banging out some brilliant work on nebul.us.
And it really is something to see.
But what’s nebul.us do? Well, I’m going to let Jason Kincaid over at TechCrunch tell you. As he’s likely been mucking with it more than I have.
Here’s how it works: after installing a browser plugin (the service currently has support for Firefox with IE, Chrome, and Safari on the way), your browser will start monitoring your browsing history and uploading it to the service. Everything is intitally locked down in a private mode — meaning nobody else can see it — unless you visit the site and explicitly decide to share it with your friends. Or, if there are some sites you’d always be comfortable sharing with your friends, you can choose to add it to your ‘Trusted’ list, which means they’ll automatically be shared. The site has a friends system so you can determine who is allowed to following your browser history, or you can choose to share it into a public pool. If there’s a site you never want to have recorded, even in the private mode, you can block it entirely. If you do let something slip by, you can go back and delete it from your history.
In other words, you just use the Web the way you normally would, and nebul.us keeps track of what you’re doing. Then, you can tune back in to see how you’re spending your time—and how your friends are spending theirs.
That’s right, it’s got social features, too. Demented and sad, but social. Okay maybe not. But I can’t resist working John Hughes quotes into posts. So sue me.
Long story short, it’s great to see great Portland development talent shining on a larger stage. Folks here have some impressive chops. They just don’t always get the attention they deserve. But with apps like this—and Simler is another great example—the Portland development crowd should start getting some of the credit they so richly deserve.
Nebul.us is still in private beta. I have about 15 invites. If you’re interested in taking it for a spin, comment below. I’ll invite the first 15 folks who provide real email addresses.