There were some interesting discussions this morning at the Social Networking Conference in Miami. The event which attracted over 600 attendees, started with an engaging presentation about the “Open Social” project.
Patrick Chanezon, Google’s “API Guy” presented the emergence of Open Social by charting it on a Gartner Hype Cycle Curve. Patrick believes that Open Social hit the “Trough of Disillusionment” just prior to launching it’s 0.6 version which included security features that prevented hackers from leaking through the mini-apps and into the networks. He feels that “Enlightenment” arrived with its the release of 0.7 last Friday.
Patrick ended his presentation by describing Shindig and its imminent launch (1 or 2 months from now). Shindig was described as the “implementation of a social server without worrying about all the plumbing”. While he told social networks to wait for it, he urged developers to get cracking on building applications that could later be adapted with Shindig.
After the presentation Michael Jones, CEO of UserPlane and Derek Gordon, VP of Marketing at Engage where spotlighted as panelists to the subject. Michael pointed out that speed to market was the key to success in the world of widgetry and mini applications. Applications that are pre-existing at the time a social network launches (he’s speaking to the white labeling opportunists I think) are much cheaper to market and to adopt than applications that could get lost in the sea of existing applications if they launch too late.
I asked Michael about his thoughts on Mini application fatigue and what the winning ingredients might be to cut through the boredom of user choice. Interestingly, we got into the discussion of pull media and how the applications will have to provide some value and interactivity.
Derek Gordon chimed in, pointing out that the niche applications that are launching may not have mass appeal but that the sheer amount of them will appeal to many individuals. Still a bit of a sceptic, I asked about the broadcasting side of these applications. My point is that even though smaller clusters of truly engaged users of the “insertridiculousappnamehere app” may exist, the social graphs they are leveraging are in effect, getting spammed and this is contributing to the overall fatigue of applications as a total concept.
It got interesting (for me at least) when Michael commented on the fact that application fatigue is actually an implementation issue. Citing the Vampire application from Facebook as an early example of spammy applications of no utility, Michael said that the control over the volume of broadcasts had simply not been considered.
The realization I made (I’m sO naïve), is that Facebook may have been using the fluff application that had no sponsorship or commercial interest tied to it, as a test on the legs of the social graph as it could apply to future applications and their potential to create legions of engaged consumers for when people start asking them how they plan on making money.