This is part of a series of posts on the Journey of a Facebook Application.
I think that title bears repeating, I’m almost proud of it – A Real-Time-Micro-Social-Forum Application. That – expressed in the most buzzword filled description I could think of – is the application I’m going to build!
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not overly creative. If this does slightly lack in originality (although I don’t think it does!) then I hope I’ll make up for it in hard work, tenacity…. yadda yadda so on and so forth. I’m not sure where the idea came from, but I know there have been a few services that have inspired my thinking on how I should go about implementing it:
1. Twitter – I like twitter. It’s the inspiration for the micro element. It’s great for connections, for sharing good links for discovering new things. One thing I’ve found it doesn’t do well is group chats. For every time I see an event being live tweeted, I see countless people complain about reams of commentary in their feed about an event that they’re not at, or a match that they’re not watching, or a TV show they’re not interested in etc.
2. Live Blogging – The answer to that twitter problem seems to be live blogging. But for the life of me, I just don’t get it! Admittedly, that’s probably just me. What I gather so far is that it’s one person posting updates of an event, with time stamps etc. If that’s the case, then I can definitely see it’s uses, e.g. I love reading the engadget or wired live updates from each Macworld event. But they’re a one way flow of information, usually from a journalist/blogger in an event. I can’t see how they work in a social/group discussion way. Again, maybe it’s just me missing a trick here.
3. Discussion Forums – Speaking of discussing Macworld, I found the best place to do this (live) last year was on boards.ie. That was my inspiration for the forum element of the application.
Put your hands together…
So with all this in mind I thought it would be really handy to have a place to chat about an event as it was happening, with twitter-esque sized comments. Twitter is great for what it does, but it’s centred around people and connections. This application will be centred around events.
If I’m being ambitious, which I guess I am, I would hope this application could be to discussion forums what twitter is to blogging. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still use forums for debates, discussions, analysis etc., but I think this application could be great for quick discussion and live commentary on events as they happen. A thread on a forum takes too long to trawl through when you want the conversation to be quick and free flowing (and half the conversation is taken up by witty and image filled signatures!)
The Use Case
I’m building this as a Facebook application (at first), for many reasons which I’ll explain in a late blog post, so the initial user experience will be something like this:
- I log into Facebook and go to this application
- I’m going to watch Barack Obama’s inauguration that night, but no one’s free to come over and watch it with me.
- So I set up a new event (micro-thread?), and call it “Barry’s Inauguration” and set the date – “19th Jan 2009”.
- I invite a few friends. Some more people browse to it (e.g. under the category “politics”) and maybe invite some of their friends.
- The event starts
- I say “So what do you think of this Rick Warren guy, a bit too bigoted for my liking”.
- People agree
- And the real-time-micro-social-forum is born!
So….. What do you think? Would you use it!?
Honestly I think it's a great idea but I don't think a Facebook is suitable as a platform. Third party apps can't be accessed on Facebook mobile which would kill it for me.
I had a idea similar to this a while ago. A sort of Twitter forum where when you're live tweeting the same event as a few people you would make all tweets @twitterforum and they would all appear in a sort of thread. there would also be a event ID so they didn't all get mixed up.
The lack of mobile is a worry for me alright. My plan is to start it as a facebook app, because it's what I know best, for ease of authentication & logins etc., and grow it from there.
The twitter idea is somthing I though of, but i couldn't fully think through a solution in my head of how it would work, so I opted for this route.
Thanks for the feedback, it's much appreciated.
You might be interested in talking to my friend Jen at some point, she's currently working on a social media startup in Edinburgh which is largely to do with collecting marketing and trend-based data from the likes of Twitter, Facebook etc.
Her company's site is http://affectlabs.com/ or you can follow her on Twitter on @jennielees. Failing that, I can pass you on her other contact details!
Cheers Jodi. I had a look at the website, very interesting service, and I know from work that there's definitely a big market for it.
I'm only having fun with this app for now, but I might say hello on Twitter if it starts to take off properly. In the mean time I eagerly await the lauch of affectlabs!