View your favorite web sites in a ‘virtual newspaper’ style with Surfboard

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Surfboard is a free website that takes your web viewing experience in new directions by giving you a more visual interface. By allowing you to view the web dynamically, Surfboard will bring more data to your personal off-ramp of the information superhighway, faster and easier.

When the internet was taking its first toddler steps toward becoming the behemoth of data flow that it is today, there were precious few options for how you wanted to view it. Initially, there were things like BBS (Bulletin Board Systems) that allowed users to connect to one another in a way they had never done before.

Suddenly people could come together to exchange ideas, ideals, and information. These systems, and others like them, were such a big deal at the time, and yet are considered to be ancient tech these days. That’s been the way of things ever since those first days.

After the BBS days, there came things like personal chat systems. Following those came dynamic networking, and that’s where the real explosion and acceleration of internet technology began. Forums, RSS newsfeeds, blogs, online magazines and news videos, all of these things owe their existence to the previous technology and the people who built them. With that in mind, I began looking at some of the newer ways that we have to manipulate and otherwise access data on the internet and one of the simplest, and yet most impressive, ideas is Surfboard.com.

Surfboard.com is, as stated already, a free website that allows you to view the web in a way that is both Avant-garde as well as timeless in its conception. The basic notion is to take any website you want to view, and put it into a more visual format that makes finding and extracting the information you want much easier, faster, and even more fun. When you first go to the Surfboard home page, you’ll see that there isn’t much there to slow you down or bury you in links you don’t care about. It is worth noting, to me, that this is not the norm on the web these days. Most sites you open will either have little or no information on the first page and force you to begin tracking links and reading pages (sometimes for hours!) to find what you are interested in, or they simply inundate you with link upon link upon link, all bunched together and shoved in your face right there. Neither of these options is what I would call innovative or useful, but for some reason it seems to be very common, despite the proliferation of software and tutorials available to make your site easier to navigate and read by the viewer.

Surfboard Screen 4
Now, I am not suggesting that there are not any well designed sites out there. Far from it, in fact. There are plenty of sites out there that take these things into account and try to present a happy medium so that you don’t feel buried or starved on the home page. It’s just that there seem to be far more of the lousy ones than the good ones. This is where Surfboard (and, eventually other sites like it) can be a boon to you. Essentially, Surfboard allows you to enter any link for a website, and then be taken to view it in a 3D accelerated view. What does that mean? Well let’s take a look.

Surfboard Screen 1
When you enter a link in Surfboard’s home page, you’ll be taken to a page that either tells you that you don’t have the right options enabled to view it, or you’ll be taken directly to the Surfboard view of your link. Surfboard uses 3D acceleration technology to basically re-format any site you want into what looks a lot like a virtual newspaper. It takes individual links from the page you specify, and shows the data connected to them in a side by side, page turning layout that should be pretty familiar and easy to navigate for anyone at all. Instead of being bombarded with menus and adverts and pop ups, you will just have the data you want to view, all in a layout that is sensible, easy to visually scan, and lacking in the more common irritants found on the web. Note that since much of what Surfboard does is animated, the static screenshots here won’t do it justice but I have included them to give you at least some idea of what it has to offer.

Surfboard makes use of your GPU (graphics processing unit) to do all this, and that means your browser has to support that kind of action. Safari is set up to do this natively, with no tweaking on your part, but Chrome is currently still developing that portion of their program so you’ll need to activate certain ‘experimental features’ if you want to use Chrome for Surfboard.com. There is a handy tutorial on how to do this here. Bear in mind that the ‘about:flags’ link doesn’t work on all systems so you may need to type that one into your Chrome address bar manually but that is honestly the most difficult part of it. Once you have done this, or if you’re using Safari, you’ll be ready to start surfing immediately.

Surfboard Screen 5
Don’t confuse Surfboard with ad blockers or other plugins of that type, because that is not what it is. Each of the data points (aka Headlines) you access through the layout in Surfboard will still contain all the pertinent info of the original page, it just shows them in a format that is intuitive and easier to handle. This is a major boon to those of us who spend a lot of time ‘surfing’ the web, and even for those who only visit cyberspace occasionally. It is also one of those innovative ideas that is so simple and so powerful that trying to describe it is a lot more difficult than just trying it. Therefore, I would recommend you head over to their site and try it out. You could even try viewing FreewareGenius.com on it. I did, and it was a blast! You’ll get the idea faster than it can be explained, and whether you enjoy it or not is far less important than the fact that it exists as a new approach to web viewing. I believe Surfboard is just one of the first of what will be a huge explosion in sites like it, so it is worth checking out to get a possible glimpse of the future, if nothing else. Give it a try, and as always, feel free to post any comments about it here. Until next time, my friends!

Check our Surfboard here.