April 6, 2008

"Shiftspace": a Meta-Web Of, By, and For Users

One of the coolest things I've seen on the 'net, esp. when you consider the potential.

"ShiftSpace is an open source layer above any website. . . . ShiftSpace provides tools for artists, designers, architects, activists, developers, students, researchers, and hobbyists to create online contexts built in and on top of websites.

"While the Internet’s design is widely understood to be open and distributed, control over how users interact online has given us largely centralized and closed systems. . . . ShiftSpace attempts to subvert this trend by providing a new public space on the web.

"By pressing the [shift] + [space] keys, a ShiftSpace user can invoke a new meta layer above any web page to browse and create additional interpretations, contextualizations and interventions – which we call Shifts. Users can choose between several authoring tools we’re working to develop – which we call Spaces. . . . .

"Notes is a Space that allows a ShiftSpace user to leave post-it annotations on websites. Highlights is one we’re still developing, which would allow a user to highlight text on the page. Some Spaces lead more naturally to an interventionist usage. Two such Spaces that we have implemented are ImageSwap, which allows a user to grab any image on the web and swap it in place of other image, and SourceShift, which allows users to freely edit a page’s HTML code.

"When a user visits a modified (’Shifted’) webpage, the small ShiftSpace icon (§) pops up in the bottom left side of the screen. Pressing the [shift] + [space] keys reveals the ShiftSpace console. From the console, the user can browse through existing Shifts, choosing to enable those that might be of interest. Holding down the [shift] key shows a small contextual menu, allowing the user to create Shifts of her own. The user can then choose whether to share her Shifts or to keep them private."

Initiated by Dan Phiffer and Mushon Zer-Aviv and under continuing further development by an open source community comprising Avital Oliver, David 'dudu' Buchbut, David Nolen, "and more."

You have to use Firefox as your browser and download a bit of code, but ShiftSpace is easy to install and use.

UPDATE: The creators have upgraded to another version, which allows you to use Safari, among other benefits.

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