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Me.dium: One part social networking gizmo, one part spy tool.

It's in private beta, but Webware gives you the key.

Caroline McCarthy

Last week, as I recounted yesterday, I went to the TechCrunch NYC meetup and was consequently barraged by all kinds of Web 2.0 esoterica. Some were not-so-innovative (do we really need more social bookmarking and link annotation sites?) and others were pretty darn cool. In the "pretty darn cool" category lies Me.dium, a Firefox extension that aims to let you visualize traffic on the Web as though you were "walking down Main Street," according to co-founder David Mandell. It takes the form of a sidebar on your browser (see screengrab at left) and shows you a "cloud" of Me.dium users who are hanging out on similar pages. There are some social functions, like starting chats and building a "friends list," too.

If it sounds a little intrusive to you, keep in mind that you can always make your browsing visible to only your friends list, or to no one. You can also just turn the whole extension off. Personally, I liked it--the interface is cool, and you can find some neat new sites to visit. More importantly, it doesn't seem to slow down my browser.

Me.dium is in a private beta test mode right now and hopes to launch sometime after the new year. However, the folks at Me.dium have been nice enough to give Webware readers an inroad. If you want to try out this new web toy, sign up with invite code webware1106.