When we browse the Internet, we inherently express some degree of interest simply by visiting a page on a site. It follows that others who visit the same page probably have some common interest.
As we browse, we tend to view pages that are related to each other. Perhaps we are reading about recent events, researching information on a topic, or looking for the best price on an item we are interested in.
Search Engines play a major role in finding resources we are interested in. Not many people really care about the content on the search results page. Instead, they care about the pages that they link to from there. What if some of the time you could find resources that interest you without visiting the search engine first?
If lots of users visited 3 or 4 URLs that were on about the same topic, and you came along and visited one of those URLs, what are the chances that you would be interested in the other 3 URLs? It probably depends on how you got there but there probably is at least some interest.
The FireShare Plugin communicates with a Coordination Server to help group peers based on visited URLs. When peer groups are formed, future URLs visited by each peer are forwarded to the other peers in the groups. When a number of peers visit URLs that one peer hasn't visited, those URLs are tested to see if they might be of interest. Interesting URLs are displayed in a dialog and the user can choose whether or not to view them.
All of this happens automatically without user intervention. There are some customizable features of FireShare though. You can customize which URLs are included or excluded in the preferences dialog. You can also disable sharing without uninstalling the plugin.
Because FireShare was developed for academic purposes, it has the ability to send test data back to the server for evaluation. No private data is sent to the test server and complete URLs are not sent back. Instead, data is normalized for evaluation purposes. If you don't want to participate in this study, you can turn this feature off in the preferences and still use the plugin freely.