zembly: applications for the masses by the masses

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  • 1. Applications For The Masses, By The Masses Why Engineers Are An Endangered Species Todd Fast CTO, zembly.com todd@zembly.comSNAP Summit 10-28-2008

2. PropositionsSoftware engineers are an increasingly endangeredspeciesNeophytes will take over their jobsNo one will mindOctober 2008 | zembly.com | 2 3. AgendaGenetic FreaksTrendsApplications & PlatformsSocial ApplicationsToolsDo We Need Engineers? October 2008 | zembly.com | 3 4. Software Engineers are Genetic FreaksTake a look around you; are these people normal? Above-average intelligence Above-average ability to abstract Below-average tolerance for imprecision Below-average fashion sense Willing to sit in conference sessions instead of out pursuing matesEngineers are at the edge of the population curveBy definition, most people are not like engineers The sooner you realize you're not normal, the easier thiswill be for youOctober 2008 | zembly.com | 4 5. Leading QuestionNormal people are not suited to software engineeringBut, what if relatively normal people could do a lot of whatengineers do today?Let's call them casual developers October 2008 | zembly.com | 5 6. Casual DevelopersNot developers as we typically define them Not self-identifying as engineersA large majority are under the age of 30 Students are a big fractionCasually use advanced technology day-in, day-outProduce and consume information at dramatic ratesInteract with others asynchronously and non-linearlyAssemble personalized views of their worldIncreasingly entering the corporate workforceFleshing out the next-generation Web with increasinglyinteractive content October 2008 | zembly.com | 6 7. AgendaGenetic FreaksTrendsApplications & PlatformsSocial ApplicationsToolsDo We Need Engineers? October 2008 | zembly.com | 7 8. Technology TrendsPlatforms are at the foreEverything is syndicatedSocial is everywhere People at the center, not softwareSimpler is betterSeemingly infinite demand for applications Delivery can't keep up October 2008 | zembly.com | 8 9. Social TrendsSocial computing is becoming a pillar of mass culture Social features drive technology to the massesSoftware increasingly mediates real-world relationshipsApp development merging with app usage merging withcontent creation merging with content consumptionmerging with culture Apps are a way of life The medium is the message. - Marshall McLuhan October 2008 | zembly.com | 9 10. A Confluence of TrendsWidespread broadband connectivityThe ability to augment Web sites and social networks withuser-defined functionalityA ever-growing supply of interesting Web APIsA mass market of technically-savvy people who are Eager to express themselves and contribute Extremely familiar with technology Steeped in the conventions of social computing Feel constrained by delivery of traditional technologiesSocial networks that provide massive distribution channelsA presumption that social software is an end in itself October 2008 | zembly.com | 10 11. AgendaGenetic FreaksTrendsApplications & PlatformsSocial ApplicationsToolsDo We Need Engineers? October 2008 | zembly.com | 11 12. QuestionHow many people here build applications? October 2008 | zembly.com | 12 13. What is an Application? An application is a piece of software that helps a userscratch an itch.October 2008 | zembly.com | 13 14. What is an Application?Most engineers make a living writing applications for others Using powerful software tools Using expertise accumulated over yearsTraditional perspective of application Solve other people's use cases Are big and take significant resources to develop Live a long time Only highly skilled experts can create themBut, applications come in all sizes and shapes Large: SAP, Amazon.com Small: UNIX shell scripts, widgetsThe scope of what is considered an application is shrinking If it helps a user with a task, it can be considered an appSmall apps rely heavily on platformsOctober 2008 | zembly.com | 14 15. What is a Platform? A platform is a piece of software that enablesapplications.October 2008 | zembly.com | 15 16. What is a Platform?Fertilizer for ecosystems of applications built upon themSolve common problems so that applications don't have toExpose facilities (e.g. APIs) that make writing applicationseasierAs a rule, applications enrich the platforms they run on Platforms need applications, and applications need platformsPlatforms are more than the sum of their parts Crowdsourcing enriches platforms in ways that the originaldevelopers didn't imagine, much less have time to do Looks a lot like the open source modelOctober 2008 | zembly.com | 16 17. The Application Spectrum Platforms & Services Web-scale sites; Social platforms; Mobile platforms; 1st-gen Web APIsTraditional Apps Destination sites; Enterprise; RIAs; Desktop; Mobile Non-Traditional AppsWidgets; Social apps; Situational apps; Syndicated functionality; 2nd-gen Web APIs (microservices)October 2008 | zembly.com|17 18. The Application Spectrum Platforms & Services Web-scale sites; Social platforms; Mobile platforms; 1st-gen Web APIsTraditional Apps Destination sites; Enterprise; RIAs; Desktop; Mobile Non-Traditional AppsWidgets; Social apps; Situational apps; Syndicated functionality; 2nd-gen Web APIs (microservices)Explosive growth!October 2008 | zembly.com|18 19. The Developer SpectrumSoftware EngineersWeb-scale sites; Social platforms;Mobile platforms; 1st-gen Web APIsTraditional App DevelopersDestination sites; Enterprise; RIAs; Desktop; MobileNon-Traditional Developers Widgets; Social apps; Situational apps;Syndicated functionality; 2nd-gen Web APIs (microservices) October 2008 | zembly.com|19 20. AgendaGenetic FreaksTrendsApplications & PlatformsSocial ApplicationsToolsDo We Need Engineers? October 2008 | zembly.com | 20 21. Social ApplicationsOften smaller than traditional appsRely on underlying platforms for significant functionalityOften written quickly, using basic toolsOften developed by non-engineersHave the potential to scale big and reach huge numbersCan engage users in novel waysExamples Widgets Facebook apps Social adsOctober 2008 | zembly.com | 21 22. Use Cases for Social AppsDirect revenue Utility (non-revenue) Monetize fun/useful apps with Build something needed byads, subscriptions, paid you or othersservices, e-commerce Community enrichmentFeature syndication A means for deepening Inject key features of another community tiessite into other destinations For the hell of itBrand awareness / Self-expressionengagement Social experimentation Interactive marketing Social advertising Friend recommendation as anadvertising strategy October 2008 | zembly.com | 22 23. Feature SyndicationExternalization of another application's functionality intoother locations and platforms Widgets APIs It's an ad!Increasingly, app providers ask DYWWWT Do You Want Widgets With That?Feature syndication enables ecosystems Not always application ecosystems, though Ecosystems are an established technique for maintaining high userengagement If you don't have an ecosystem, you haven't reached the big timePlatforms are all about the ecosystem October 2008 | zembly.com | 23 24. Two Types of Syndication1) Content Syndication Sources Content providers Blogs Form Words Images Via RSS Atom Goals Spread memes CPMsOctober 2008 | zembly.com | 24 25. Two Types of Syndication1) Content Syndication 2) Feature Syndication Sources Sources Content providers Web applications Blogs Web services Form Form Words Widgets Images Social applications Via Via RSS Platforms Atom APIs Goals Goals Spread memes Your site/service, CPMs anywhere and everywhere Value-add User acquisitionOctober 2008 | zembly.com | 25 26. What is an Application? Increasingly, applications are advertisements for value- added services. October 2008 | zembly.com | 26 27. What is an Application? Applications are ad units.October 2008 | zembly.com | 27 28. AttentionAttention is a fixed resourceNew forms of media deliver more per unit time Kids today...New forms of media evolve to bypass our existing filters For every new form of media, new means of filtering evolveEvery app we make is an ad, in some form Trying to get someone's attention Competing for usage Competing for awareness Competing for attachmentOctober 2008 | zembly.com | 28 29. Recent Innovations in Media DeliverySyndication of content & Low-barrier, hub-and-features spoke publishing Facebook, OpenSocial Blogosphere/RSS iGoogle, NetVibes, Micro-blogging Pageflakes iPhone, Android Peer-to-peer information Web APIsexchange Developer ecosystems, openSocial recommendations source Viral social apps Collaborative content creation Micro-bloggingOctober 2008 | zembly.com | 29 30. AgendaGenetic FreaksTrendsApplications & PlatformsSocial ApplicationsToolsDo We Need Engineers? October 2008 | zembly.com | 30 31. Example: Abstraction vs. Capabilityvs.October 2008 | zembly.com | 31 32. Todd's Tool TheoremsThree factors govern a user's ability to solve a problemusing a tool:(work tool does for user) (applicability to problem)doability =(difficulty of solving problem)Increasing the doability lets more people tackle aproblem The amount that a tool abstracts away details is inverselyproportional to the set of problems it can solve:(level of abstraction) (set of solvable problems) = constant October 2008 | zembly.com | 32 33. Example: Abstraction vs. Capability vs. More doable, less capable Less doable, more capableOctober 2008 | zembly.com | 33 34. Tools TakeawayTools don't have to be complicated MediaWiki (Wikipedia) is a tool for mass collaborationNew kinds of application development tools (like zembly)raise the level of abstraction Thus, more people are able to create applicationsCognitive surplus can (and will) be used to buildapplications when doability reaches a critical threshold