Dalton Caldwell and his team had a crazy idea to create a new social network called App.net. They also had a crazy business plan – people should actually PAY for being part of that social network: $50 for a yearly membership. Blasphemy! But it worked. Through a kickstarter like campaign they successfully raised over $750.000.
Now unlike to other startups real money is involved – and that changes everything. App.net can give a shit on advertisers and or even more crude monetization strategies. They won’t have to sell your data to 3rd parties. They won’t have to screw their developer ecosystem. They just have to make their customers happy.
And it works! All basic functions looks pretty solid and it’s superfun to read the global timeline (remember the early days of Twitter when that was possible too). The API is ready and all over the mighty internetz people are talking about what to do next. Third party apps are popping up for the web or mobile platforms, there is a brief list on their GitHub page.
It’s really impressive to see what people are building just within a few days.
But with all the praise I have to admit that the things you can do on App.net are really basic and they have to proof their “raison d’être”. That are the features that I’m expecting in the near future:
App.net should be a interface that reflects my digital me. I want to put information inside, I want to pull information out. Let’s get rid of the data silos. For example when I’m changing my email I have to login to a plethora of web services and change my email for each one of them. Why can’t I change my email at a centralized point and all the services will know how to notify me? I want an easy to use single sign on mechanism with fine granular control over which data will be shared or modified.
I want to add arbitrary data to my digital profile. Some of the data should be semantically structured, but I want to be able to add arbitrary data (even if it just makes sense for me). I want to add semantic information to a post, like Twitter does with Twitter Cards. And for arbitrary data let me or other developers define aggregations like Facebook does with the Open Graph. Let me access the data in any format I want (json, rss, etc) and don’t forget that there has to be something like a realtime notification system in case my data changes.
Please let me also connect to people that are not App.net (for some people $50 is a lot of money). They may be on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus. It’s sufficient that I can maintain my friend graph and that I know how to contact them. It might also solve your problem with reach.
I understand that some of these wishes are difficult technical challenges – especially at scale. But I believe that the open web has to go there and explore what’s doable since the status quo is a mess.
PS: And please create a repost mechanism fast – I need it ;-)