Nebul.us is a new beta application that allows its users to benefit from groupthink by allowing people to find and share great content easily. The web application was built by the team at Use All Five, Inc., based in Los Angeles, California.
The application is built around making it easy to share what you think is good, and suggesting the latest stories that you should be reading. Similar to StumbleUpon, you can tag items you find interesting and share them within the cloud.
The problem with many of these bookmarking websites is that it requires effort on part of the user. Optionally, the user activity could possibly be tracked with persistent third-party cookies, but security and privacy concerns increase.
Nebul.us also has plans to allow advertisers to benefit from the shared user data as well as information collected by publishers about what people like. Again, this could deliver more useful content to users, but privacy and security may be compromised in fact or perception.
Nebul.us is easiest to use when running the Firefox toolbar, similar to StumbleUpon.
Nebul.us allows you to see what other users or your friends are finding and sharing. The caveat is that it requires some basic precautions so you are not sharing visits to competitive or confidential websites.You may not always want your friends knowing everything you read related to your job role, how often you visit a competitor’s websites for research/employment opportunities, or how often you actually check Facebook while at work.
Your account starts with a clean slate, requiring you to add all sensitive websites as you find them to your blocked list, but at least that process is quick and easy. I thought that it would be nice if the application could use the power of groupthink and suggest likely sites that similar users have blocked, but the product is still in beta. The learning process could, in time, automatically block (or suggest blocking) certain websites from appearing in your cloud activity.
Nebul.us has got user privacy in mind as you must physically select to publish a website to your public cloud. A secondary issue (shown below) is this: the list of domain classifications that can be used to tag is not very extensive, so I often classified many websites incorrectly as articles because it was the nearest category. This is another part that could benefit from groupthink. For example, if a majority of Nebul.us users list CNN as video, it could auto-tag it for you.
There may be advantages in having one global time zone for simplicity, but I would appreciate the addition of some geographic filters on the public cloud data.
Using existing research tools like Compete.com or Google Ad Planner, I can see that my target audience already visits YouTube and also Facebook (for example), but which do they spend more time on? What day or time is best? It maybe possible in the future for advertisers to learn more about their users habits with a service like Nebul.us, and this seems to be one of the company’s goals.
Nebul.us is a great new concept for visualising user activity, but needs to be scaled up to have more users to be effective for all users. It will be key for the company to find ways to encourage users to continue to post enough new data into the cloud without some rewards or points system.
My advice is to give it a trial. Signup for the Nebul.us beta program and start learning more about how you use or waste time on the net each day.
Update: The platform has been shutdown