Where Are We Going?


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Presented at Web Directions South in Sydney, Australia on October 14. 2010.

Published in: Technology

Where Are We Going?

  1. 1. WHERE ARE We GOING? @jw * Josh Wiiams
  2. 2. The Preface
  3. 3. In the BEGINNING... Where did we come om?
  4. 4. What follows is a brief history of our bizarre journey from a web + UI boutique to a social networking service.
  5. 5. Iconfactory circa 1999
  6. 6. Inspired by Iconfactory’s Pixelpalooza, I got into pixel art, drew hundreds of icons, and met my first two co-workers. Firewhîl Design
  7. 7. Blinksale • Frustrated with our billing solution, we wrote our own and decided to make it fun. And useful. • Thank You Notes were an unusual selling point that resonated with those who used the service.
  8. 8. Blinksale
  9. 9. IconBuffet • 50,000 people came to collect icons and trade them with friends. • Fewer than 15 percent of those people actually used the icons for a design project.
  10. 10. IconBuffet
  11. 11. IconBuffet
  12. 12. Causes • Originally known as Project Agape, Causes was envisioned as a standalone site to encourage social giving. • Ultimately Causes was re-imagined as a Facebook application. • Over $25 million has been raised.
  13. 13. PIVOT to the PRESENT Where are we now?
  14. 14. PackRat • PackRat was created at a scale that assumed most people would play one hour a day. • We quickly learned our core audience was playing 6-10 hours a day.
  15. 15. PackRat
  16. 16. Then Farmvie Ha ened
  17. 17. What now?
  18. 18. Viva la iPhone The iPhone changed everything.
  19. 19. The Epiphany
  20. 20. The Totem How do we inspire people to connect with the real world?
  21. 21. Can we use real world connections to inspire people to discover and share amazing places?
  22. 22. Landmarks
  23. 23. F tba Stadiums
  24. 24. Baseba Stadiums
  25. 25. Airports
  26. 26. Add Go to a Wallaby and you get a Gowalla. Really.
  27. 27. Hype Machine In many ways Gowalla was in the right place at the right time. We’ve grown our community from 2,000 to 500,000 in the last 12 months. The hype machine is great, but living in reality is better.
  28. 28. A Word of Caution Beware of placing your trust in the future web proclaimed by blogs, investors and so-called “social media gurus.”
  29. 29. “We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams.” Wiiam Wonka
  30. 30. FADS vs. THE FUTURE Where are we going?
  31. 31. The Fads • Checking In • Game Mechanics • Badges • Geo-blah-blah-blah...
  32. 32. Checking out... • Checking In is the status update for the places we go. It has succeeded where other concepts have failed. • Now we’re checking into television, books, video games, states of consciousness, and more. • Overload is upon us.
  33. 33. Checking in isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? Winning an iPad after you check in.
  34. 34. Game Mechanics • A new wave of services are repurposing ideas from Farmville and World of Warcraft for practical means. • They provide simple incentives for completing ordinary tasks. • However, they are subservient to the usefulness of the service.
  35. 35. “Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges.”
  36. 36. Badges • Nothing new under the sun. • As a reward system, they’ve become the poster child for the success of location-based services. • Badges and achievements are driving activity around the web, but are they really?
  37. 37. Social validation is the primary driver for activity on today’s web.
  38. 38. Social Validation • We share on Facebook in order to receive comments and likes. • We post to Twitter with the hope of being re-tweeted, which in turn boosts our follower count. • We upload to Flickr and look forward to being favorited.
  39. 39. Quora
  40. 40. Gratuitous Hugh Jackman
  41. 41. Geo-blah • Every week a new location-based service is born seeking to cash in on some perceived gold rush. • Location in and of itself is boring. People don’t care about the technology. Nor should they. • Context and value matter.
  42. 42. Conclusion • Checking in is a temporary solution to a more complex problem. • Badges and game mechanics are not a special sauce that magically makes everything tasty. • “Geolocation” is not people friendly.
  43. 43. “The Future isn't what it used to be. I'm not surprised, I'm not surprised. Most of us live on boats of luxury. We're so confined. We’re so confined.” G d Morning by Rogue Wave
  44. 44. The Future • Mobile: Get off your ass! • Background Services and Passive Applications • Community • Activism & The Social Good
  45. 45. Get off your a ! • People have visited places in over 170 countries with Gowalla. • Location is central to the mobile experience. • Mobile devices give us the ability to connect with people and the world around us in new and remarkable ways.
  46. 46. TrS-80
  47. 47. TrS-80 of the Future
  48. 48. Rise of the A s! • While the future is most certainly mobile, the App culture is wrinkle in the fabric of the Mobile Web. • Device makers and carriers around the world are fragmenting our engineering efforts. We have taken a step backward. • Make no mistake, this is about money.
  49. 49. “I think many of our problems as a country would be solved if people had thick passports. There's just no substitute for actually going and seeing things.” Ma Damon
  50. 50. Pa ive A lications For mobile services to become truly useful, they must not interrupt our daily lives or social interactions.
  51. 51. Co uni • Flickr and Wikipedia set the example. • 1.9 millions places crowdsourced on Gowalla (we were naive). • 700,000 photos taken on the spot.
  52. 52. Sydney Opera House
  53. 53. Gratuitous Hugh Jackman
  54. 54. Activism + Causes • Obama’s Presidential Campaign • Iran Election on Twitter • Text Ten Dollars to Haitian Earthquake Relief
  55. 55. What about social good on the web?
  56. 56. The Case Against Corporate Responsibility “The idea that companies have a responsibility to act in the public interest and will profit from doing so is fundamentally flawed... Governments are a far more effective protector of the public good than any campaign for corporate social responsibility.” Anîl Karnani, WSJ
  57. 57. And to that we say...
  58. 58. With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a new pair of shoes to a child in need. ONE for ONE. TOMS Shoes
  59. 59. Will your system be alright When you dream of home tonight? There is no message we're receiving Let me know, is your heart still beating? Are we human or are we dancers? The Kiers
  60. 60. What does this mean for services like Gowalla?
  61. 61. OOO h!!!
  62. 62. Double Rainbow • Find the extraordinary in the everyday. • Provide a magical experience when people check in, share photos, write stories and leave recommendations. • Inspire people to discover and share the world with their friends.
  63. 63. What does this mean for you and the projects you’re creating for tomorrow?
  64. 64. B m! • Are you creating products that provide real value to real people? (startups for startups = Google Wave) • Build a community... then delight it! • Connect people with the real world. • Inspire people to do the remarkable.
  65. 65. Find me on Twitter @jw Keynote Illustration by Will Bryant