Thanks to the dozen or so beta testers that have been playing around with the abstractmachine:synchronizer over the past few days, I’ve been able to spot a few bugs, most of them server-side and therefore requiring no client-side updates. However, this round of beta tests left me somewhat frustrated: while I could see, via server activity, how many people were using the service, none of the users (or « synchronizers ») had any idea how many other people were connected to their browser.
So I added a counter to let users know how many other co-synchronizers are online.
It is amazing that I forgot this little detail. Back when I started the abstractmachine project, I was all over this idea and it was almost rule no.1 during the many workshops I gave on networked objects: make the network visible, tangeable. If you can’t feel the networkedness of the network, what’s the point? If you can’t see at least a number on how many people are participating, it’s just surveillance. For your system to become shared, you need some sort of feedback on the scale of your collective interaction. One-on-one is cool, as long as that other person has some context, otherwise it’s just a random passerby. There are of course exceptions to this « rule », but those exceptions are mostly dependant on the project itself.
Unfortunately, this update will require a synchronizer update, but this is all automatic via Firefox’s update system.