Adaptive Blue have released version 3.0 of the BlueOrganizer social bookmarking tool, with a Firefox extension that is a contextual search menu linking you into the ‘social mediasphere’. On first look, it brings to mind the Hyperwords project with its contextual browser extension for interacting in more depth with the keywords on a page.

After a brief install and browser restart, you can right-mouse and see a ‘BlueMenu’ either for a highlighted piece of text or for a page as a whole. The menu opens into all the poster children of social media, with stalwarts Wikipedia, del.icio.us, Flickr and the rest just a menu click away.

In theory, this click takes you directly to the tag or results page relevant to your selected term, but it doesn’t always work in practice. It worked fine for me on del.icio.us and YouTube, but just took me to the homepage of Wikipedia and an ‘all tag’ page on Odeo for my chosen search of ‘media technology’.

Helpfully, it opens the page in a new tab allowing you to explore multiple choices without losing your original context. There are revenue models in place for the existing product, with paid placement possible in the menu of default options and affiliate links to take you through from your search for a film to buying the DVD.

Why are we waiting?

Ironically for a tool that is supposed to save you time, my biggest grievance is with the menu load times – on one occasion over 20 seconds and regularly more than 5 seconds. This needs urgent attention, if its to evolve from a bit of fun for early adopters into a genuinely useful tool. It appears I’m not alone in this (see comments).

Also the tutorials could be a lot simpler and shorter, if it’s going to gain a large audience. Better to focus on the basics and let users learn more as they become more familiar with it.

Certainly the idea of contextual search is an interesting one that has many potential applications, particularly when the user is able to customise their search menu, evolving it into a viable portable digital lifestyle aggregator.

Image 1: loading – you may be watching this for a while…

BlueMenu loading

Image 2: the menu in action

BlueMenu