Imagine having to share your Web browser with other people. I don’t mean sharing in the sense of one person using the browser at a time, much like a family uses a computer now, but sharing in the sense of everyone trying to browse the Web at the same time.
Thankfully this isn’t something we have to put up with, and we can all enjoy browsing the Web alone and with no one else trying to dictate the sites we visit. MakeUseOf recommends websites you should visit, but we don’t then hover over your shoulder making sure you do as we say.
This is all a rather long-winded way of introducing the notion of collaborative Web browsing. Which has been made possible by the We See In Every Direction Web browser created by Jonas Lund. We See In Every Direction offers a unique opportunity to share the Web with others in real-time, as you battle with strangers to experience the Web in the way you see fit.
We See In Every Direction
We See In Every Direction is a Web browser available to download for free for Windows (XP or higher), Mac OS X (10.7.5 or higher), and Linux. It was created by Jonas Lund, a Swedish artist who is far from traditional. He works across a whole range of different media, and focuses on shared online experiences. We See In Every Direction is his latest project (at the time of writing), and one which clearly explores how we interact with each other on the Internet.
You can download We See In Every Direction from the download page on Rhizome. Once the download is complete you then need to unzip the folder and explore the contents. Simply click on the WeSee application to launch the browser in a small window. You’ll immediately be browsing the Web with up to seven other people.
The browser originally allowed higher numbers of people to operate in each browsing window, but Lund limited the number to eight to make the whole experience more enjoyable. Having used the browser both before and after this restriction was instituted, I can confirm this was a good call to make. With 20 people in a room We See In Every Direction was almost unusable, but with a handful of people it’s a truly fascinating experience.
What To Expect
We See In Every Direction is a barebones browser only fit for one purpose: collaborative Web browsing. This means that you simply get an address bar and a viewing window, with no options to download or install programs, watch videos, or otherwise do anything that would turn this from a fun experiment into a nightmare full of malware and mistrust. It takes Web browsing back to basics.
You and everybody else browsing alongside you are represented by nothing more than a cursor. You can move yours around in the normal fashion, clicking on visible links at will. You can also type anything into text boxes, whether it be the address bar, search engine, or whatever. This allows those present to have conversations, or at least attempt to do so. You are, of course, reliant on no one else typing at the same time as yourself, or navigating away from the current page.
Things To See
If your experience of using We See In Every Direction is anything like mine then you can expect to see the following (all of which are shown in the screenshots spread liberally throughout this article):
- Google error messages as people conflict on what domains they want to visit.
- People trying to download software such as Omegle.
- Local websites individuals clearly visit on a regular basis.
- Personal websites (likely) belonging to someone browsing with you.
- Websites using a language other than English.
- Completely random websites stumbled upon by overzealous link clicking.
- People commenting or having conversations in text boxes.
- Non-stop Nyan Cat! OK, perhaps that was just me.
Using We See In Every Direction is a fascinating experience, revealing how different people use the Web. It also shows up opposing mindsets, with some people deciding to play nice and take it in turns choosing which site to hit next, while other people use it as an excuse to troll, spam, or otherwise annoy their fellow users. Suffice to say you should expect to at least catch a glimpse of pornography while using We See In Every Direction.
If you’re interested in experiencing collaborative Web browsing then you should download We See In Every Direction while you can, as there is no guarantee it will be available for ever. Lund is an artist with multiple projects on the go at any one time, so We See In Every Direction may only be temporarily available.
While We See In Every Direction is, in its current form, a fun experiment that’s definitely worth five minutes of your time, it could be so much more. By offering the option of limiting your fellow users to real friends and family, this could be a true collaborative Web browsing tool. The downside is that adding productivity would result in most of the fun being removed from equation.
Have you tried We See In Every Direction? If so, what was your experience? Did your group of (up to) seven fellow browsers behave or was there trolling involved? Did you witness adult material? Or did individuals spam you by visiting their own domain? Did you find the whole experience as fascinating as I did? And do you think there is a future in collaborative Web browsing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.