The abstractmachine:synchronizer is the latest of the practical, rapidly developed, small-scale algorithmic tools that I’ve been working on as of late — along the lines of abstractmachine:wrap, crypt, and abstractmachine:background. Like those programs and protocols, it was designed to be a machine that you could use in some practical capacity, despite its particularities ;-)
The idea is very simple: each participant downloads a plug-in for Firefox from the abstractmachine website and installs it into their browser. Once loaded, this system allows for people to navigate their browsers collectively, with each click onto a new page or site carrying the entire synchronized community along for the ride. Collective navigation, synchronized surfing (hey, sounds like an olympic sport), active/passive web flanerie…
From the documentation: The Synchronizer is a system for synchronizing browsers. It allows all of its users to synchronize with each other by literally « getting everyone on the same page ». Pages are called « settings » so as to emphasize the temporary and spatial nature of collective travel. When a user changes a setting by entering a new url, this changes the collective setting for everyone else; i.e. everyone’s browser moves to the new setting.
For more information, and detailed installation/usage instructions: head to /synchronizer. Also note that while the instructions are only in French and in English, the plug-in itself contains several languages, including Polish(!) and Icelandic(!), and more should be on the way soon. Translation participation is welcome. Contact me for details (it’s only a couple of lines, nothing special).
Please note that this is a public beta, and although we have already tested the system for the past month, we have only done so as a small group and not all that professionally. Don’t be suprised if real-world use with many more synchronizers doesn’t reveal some hidden design flaw. Be sure to post comments here for any suggestions/complaints you might have.
And finally, for those that want to access the backend of this system, for example in order to create some dynamic client in Flash ;-) or Processing, there are full instructions on accessing the public API at /synchronizer/backend.php.