You know when you have a great idea, you tell a bunch of people who are vaguely skeptical but some time later a weak version of that idea comes out and everyone thinks it’s bloody fantastic?
Maybe you don’t.
I had such an idea just over two years ago. I was noticing how people on MS messenger were changing their screen name to say what they were up to and using a community tagboard to make personal mini-announcements. I was getting into MySQL/PHP at the time and so knocked up a working prototype. I didn’t have time to do major development but did a lot of thinking and observing of how it was being used.
I was also watching, waiting for someone to jump into the evolutionary niche that was staring me in the face.
There was a site called buddyping based on location with SMS and then last year something called twttr came out. It gained a few disambiguating vowels and became a big hit in the blogging community. Initially, I was irked by this but then I realised:
- It’s proved my original motivation. There is a basic need to be met. However…
- It’s still not as good as my app. I have extra features but I also have a fundamentally different underlying model. This comes from…
- Having sorted out my ideas with little precedent, I have a clear, independent vision of how it should work. It’s very hard to be original when you have already adopted an existing model. Any twitter-clones that come along are likely to be twitter++ rather than anything really innovative.
I think Facebook could still flatten the field and I think they know it. They have the large network and a decent mobile interface. Scan their developers group and the API and you’ll see they are careful not to let any third-party run away with their networks. I’ll probably get more worried when they lose the ‘is’ (if you know what I mean).
So, anyway, this is where I declare that I’m going to stop obsessing about this stuff to friends and actually do it. I’m doing it because if I don’t I’m going to have to wait for another couple of years for the twitter-clones to get round to recognising the issues that I already have elegant solutions for. And that would be even more frustrating than the last couple of years have been already.
My Cercia contract expires at the end of June by which time I’ll have my corrections done and a few quid in the bank. Interested parties are encouraged to get in touch.