PhoneBoy Speaks


Mobile Technology, Social Media, Geek Culture, Information Security, and General Tech Douchebaggery

PhoneBoy Speaks Ep 318: This Tall To Ride

Dave Winer, the inventor of RSS, podcasting, and some other cool stff, asks the question: How is app.net the future? I'm not sure it is the future, but it's a different and compelling enough option right now that I'm willing to back it with my own money.

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PhoneBoy Speaks Ep 318: This Tall To Ride

Here's the comment that I left on Dave Winer's post:

The biggest problem with any sort of decentralized social platform that is infinitely hackable and has no concept of centralized control that it has a "this tall to ride" problem. The only people who will participate in such a network are:

  1. Those who have the resources, knowledge, and desire to run their own server (e.g. tent.io, identi.ca or whatever)
  2. Those willing to pay someone else to run such a service on their behalf (where "pay" may mean anything from agreeing to viewing ads to paying).

Email--arguably the oldest electronic social network out there--fits this model. While a few people (and companies/organization) do #1, most do #2. Same with DNS, which every Internet service relies on.

We're a long way away from making #1 feasible for a Twitter or Facebook like service that the average, non-technical person can join. So that leaves us with #2, where someone else operates the service (e.g. Twitter, Facebook), and we pay them by accepting we'll see ads, which incidentally makes the barrier to enter the service fairly low and makes it easier to grow the network, which increases its overall value.

Enter app.net (ADN). Yes, it's like a service like Dropbox or AWS on which many "social applications" can be developed, one of which happens to be a Twitter like service. There are others.

Unlike Twitter or Facebook, who's actual customer is the advertisers they serve (we as users are the eyeballs they sell, i.e. we are the product), ADN has two types of customers: Developers (which must pay to use the service) and users who can, optionally, be paid members (i.e. the Freemium model of Dropbox and others).

The only way ADN succeeds in the long run is if two things happen:

  1. There are enough users using the ADN platform that it makes sense for app developers to use it for their social app.
  2. There are enough users who see value in the ADN platform that they want to be paid members (i.e. there's enough quality social apps that use the platform that compel them to pay for it).

Is there a possibility that the ADN crew could change their terms and screw everyone? Sure, it's a possibility but they deliberately aligned their incentives so if they did that, they would be out of business in no time.

Will it succeed, i.e. is it the future? I can't say. What I can say is that this is the most unique approach that I've seen to this problem and I'm willing to show my faith in the concept by being a paid member.

C-List #Cybersecurity Celebrity, Podcaster, #noagenda Producer, Frequenter of shiny metal tubes, Expressor of personal opinions, and of course, a coffee achiever.