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Opera Unite

Periodically, new software appears that has the feeling of a game changer. I had this feeling when I first tried Yahoo Pipes (even though the service still remains somewhat obscure) and Wolfram Alpha. Today, I installed Opera Unite and had was left with a sense of “wow, this could change how I interact and share information with others”. Whenever a system is created – school models, corporations, or browsers – ideologies of the age are embedded. As a result, when circumstances change, future generations struggle to overcome this ideological legacy.

Kuhn’s notion of ordinary and extraordinary science partly reflects this struggle, but focuses on mindsets within a discipline rather than the system that is created to perpetuate those mindsets. Occasionally, a glimpse of “something different” emerges. But, if it’s too different from the current model, it likely fades quickly. Most innovation in browsers – including Google Chrome – is tweaking an existing model. The ideological pull of “what a browser is” and “how we interact with each other and with information” places blinders on the innovation process.

Opera Unite is an experiment in rethinking the notion of a browser entirely. Opera Unite is described as “a web server on the web browser”. I’m sure we’ll hear of many technical limitations to the approach (including security concerns). What I’m most interested in, however, is that Opera offers a different way to think about online activities – it calls into question the ideologies embedded in browsers developed decades ago.


  1. This is interesting… very interesting. I tried to meet you in the lounge for chat… but it took forever for me to install around admin limitations :) I’ve been working on a new vision for learning management systems with a college (trying to turn the LMS inside out and base it on connectivism)… but this raises an interesting question. What if the browser was the LMS? Hmmmm…. Anyways, if anyone will be at the Sloan-C Emerging Technology conference in San Francisco this week, we will be presenting our crazy ideas. I have to find a way to get Unite in there now!

    Tuesday, June 16, 2009 at 9:32 am | Permalink
  2. trondk wrote:

    I am not overly impressed by Opera Unite. I think the Opera Unite is basically what Frontier from Userland did, and that is going back over 10 years. Just add some social apps and widgets and you have Opera Unite. In my opinion it is more like retro-thinking than re-thinking the browser.

    Friday, June 19, 2009 at 5:58 am | Permalink
  3. ripli wrote:


    That’s like saying that the iPhone is basically like a Nokia phone from 1998….

    Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 8:45 am | Permalink