Mozilla Labs announced the launch of an ambitious new project called Pancake, which Mozilla says is "focused on exploring, evolving and expanding how we search, browse, navigate, organize and discover amazing things on the Web."
"The Web has evolved well past its origins as a way to publish and consume static information — the modern Web includes socializing, sharing, playing, creating, collaborating and other real world activities that it was never really designed to support," Mozilla says. "As a result, the modern Web is less useful and usable than it could be, and it is hard to make use of its full potential."
The project is even questioning the need for URLs. I'm sure those paying top dollar for generic TLDs will be thrilled with that concept.
This brings to mind some concept testing Google has done involving eliminating the address bar from Chrome.
"We’re playing with some huge concepts, monumental problems and occasionally crazy ideas," says Mozilla's Pancake Director (awesome title, by the way) Stuart Parmenter. "We’ll be looking at what tools and systems we can create to put more of the Web at users’ fingertips. We hope to devise new metaphors and new systems that give users greater power and control within the modern Web."
"We want to address questions that go to the core of how users experience the Web," continues Parmenter. "Some examples of the questions we are asking include: How can we make it easier for people to find what they’re really looking for on the Web? Do URLs still need to be something users care about? Can we make it easier for people to discover new and interesting things on the Web? What impact does social play in discovery on the Web?"
The project begins as a mobile app. "The prototype app we are building is really only the surface of Pancake," says Parmenter. "We’re also pushing the envelope — using the latest and greatest Web technologies — to build an amazing, portable experience for users. The back-end of Pancake will live in the cloud, where we’re creating an extensive Web service that will allow you to carry your data and experience across many devices. Our initial focus is on iOS and Android tablets and phones, but our long-term goal is to help people live their online lives on their own terms, across all devices and platforms."
The first prototype will be released (open source of course) within the next few months.
A Pancake wiki can be found here. Documentation, roadmaps, designs, experiments and other content will be posted in the coming weeks.