The concept of browsing the Web with friends is an often-discussed target rarely implemented well - usually requiring heavy browser plugins and Web meeting software or a centralized Web site. We saw Browzmi in 2008, an interesting service that didn't gain tremendous traction, but was a good proofpoint and testing ground. Today, we have a new entrant, Nurph, which lets you take the conversation with friends and move it around, complete with a new URL shortener to drive engagement from network to network. The service is now open in public beta.
Starting with Nurph (at http://nur.ph) is very simple. Go to their Web site and drop in a URL that you want to discuss. That could be anything from CNN or Apple's iPad page to any article or photo stream you find online. The customized URL (extended from nur.ph) delivers a chat window in the bottom right corner of the site, with your Nurph avatar.
A conversation on Nurph about our FTC Disclosure Icons
If more than one friend is on the URL, their avatar is displayed, just like many other chat rooms. You can chat in the floating window - entering an @username to refer to the individual, or a URL to take the conversation somewhere else with its own Nurph.
A Nurph Conversation on Apple's iPad Site
A Nurph Chat On a Slow Day for CNN
In our testing of it, switching URLs was seamless. Clicking a shared link would whisk you away from the existing chatroom and your friends would need to follow you along to keep the conversation going. This was a small hassle in terms of waiting for them to catch up, but there's no sense in keeping a discussion in one place and people in another.
In a Nurph chat I had with some of the company's first users, including Neil, one of the the cofounders, we talked about the popular FTC disclosure icons from this blog in December, debated a slow news day at CNN and chatted about whether we had purchased iPads yet. Practically the only site where we ran into trouble with the Nurph window was when playing QuickTime videos, but for static pages, the Nurph just became part of the experience. Should be a fun way to get family and friends on a single page, breaking chat out of the social networks and into everywhere else.
Check out Nurph at http://nur.ph.