If you're a social media addict but think that visiting regular Web sites is a lonely experience, you might want to take a look at Weblin.
Created by a German company, Weblin is designed to make the experience of surfing Web sites social--or make services like Facebook or MySpace.com more social. It does so by letting users create an avatar that they can then, effectively, take with them as they move around from site to site.
If they then find themselves on a site that is being visited at the same time by other Weblin users, then they can communicate with each other.
The main Weblin service is a small download that allows users to register and then create their own avatar. But next week, Weblin plans to launch a light version of the service that requires no download or plug-in and which assigns an avatar to everyone who uses it.
That means that users would have less control over the experience, but at the same time they'd be able to use Weblin without doing anything except use the Web. Additionally, the light version will not require registration. Rather, users will just have to enter a URL into a Weblin page.
Down the line, Weblin says, it hopes to make it possible to integrate Weblin with users' existing avatars from some virtual worlds.
For the time being, of course, Weblin's utility seems like it only comes from there being a critical mass of users and when users visit sites that are popular with others employing the service. But over time, if it grows large enough, it could provide a fun alternative to the traditional way of using Web sites.
On June 10, Geek Gestalt hits the highways for Road Trip 2008. I'll start in Orlando, Fla., and visit many of the South's most interesting destinations. Stay tuned, and be sure to keep up, both now and during the trip, with what I'm doing on Twitter.