Tune In, Cloud On, Rock Out!

· Applications, CloudOn, Design, Development, Gigs, Information Architecture, long story short, Mobile, Product, Teamwork, User Experience

One thing about working real hard is that a lot of things I’d love to post about never seem to make it to the top of the queue, and then the blog turns into “here are my slides, here is a video of my talk, here is a weird song by the band, here is another conference I attended,” etc.

A lot of the best stuff stays in draft form or as brain crack, or gets hinted at in tweets and not much more.

And then I miss even the important stuff, like where’s my book-ending “hey, I left AOL, or should I say AOL left me” post? Maybe I’ll still post it, or maybe this is going in my book, as I like to threaten people from time to time.

So I’m way past overdue mentioning to my surviving blog audience that I have taken a new job, director of product at CloudOn. I started this month and am neck deep in it already, hence the lack of extended “enjoying my severance” essays and photo journals.

Our product right now is a free app for iPad and Android tablets that enables you to edit and work with Microsoft Office files “in the cloud.” That’s the logline. There’s more to it (Dropbox and Google Drive and Box support! Acrobat Reader and image files! etc.), and there’s lots more to come, but that’s the gist of it today. Personal productivity across platforms, helping people get things done with the most convenient device available, seamless experiences across context.

This is the kind of user experience and product management work I love to do. Hard problems with vast theoretical underpinnings and thousands of difficult decisions required to actually ship something real, early and often.

I’m recruiting a UX team, currently looking for a visual design maven to anchor our in-house design practice, and ultimately building a more well rounded product and UX operation as we grow.

We hit 1,000,000 iPad downloads yesterday, I think, so there’s not a minute to lose!

See me and other "web app masters" in San Diego next week

· Applications, Design, Social Design, User Experience

Time is fast running out to sign up for the first stop on the UIE Web App Masters Tour in San Diego on March 23 and 24 next week.

I have to admit I love seeing stuff like this in my inbox:

Oh, and if you’ve scrolled down this far, you can get a $300 discount for San Diego using the promo code CRUMLISH.

See you there?

An essential guide to fostering online community

· Applications, Best Practices, Design, Development, Information Architecture, long story short, Patterns, Social Design, User Experience

[Building Social Web Application book cover]Building Social Web Applications
by Gavin Bell
O’Reilly (October, 2009)

Gavin Bell draws on his extensive experience to offer a well structured guide to adding community elements to a website or application. His book will help any professional planning a social strategy, designing a set of social features, determining the types of relationships to foster among users, and even determining how best to manage change in an existing site or online structure.

Bell covers a wide gamut of issues that a site planner will need to consider, from developing the data schema for people, relationships, and objects; to how best to expose APIs to third-party developers; to the process of rolling out a new product or feature. Anyone developing a social website or app should keep this book handy throughout the process.

Bell and I share a publisher and our titles cover some similar issues. When I first picked up Bell’s finished book I gritted my teeth with envy. As I quickly devoured the book, though, I was relieved (or, at least I convinced myself) that our books are complementary and are each useful in their own way.

If you’re looking for one book to guide you through the entire process, from conception to launch and into the life of a social web application, then this is the book for you.

(via Amazon.com: Christian Crumlish “mediajunkie’s review of Building Social Web Applications”.)

Graphing the social graph graph

· Applications, Events, Patterns, Social Design, User Experience

social graph logo
Just noticed there’s a conference coming up in a few weeks here in the valley that seems extremely narrowcast to me: Graphing Social Patterns: The Business & Technology of Facebook.
A lot of the usual suspects of social network bloviating are speaking (I count two women out of 20 named speakers), including representatives from Facebook, LinkedIn, O’Reilly (Tim himself), Forrester Research, TechCrunch, and of course Scoble, and others.
The conference describes itself as
> for developers and marketers on how to build and distribute apps for the Facebook Platform. This event is for both business executives & technical developers who want to learn more about the Facebook environment, and how to reach online communities using social networking platforms and applications.The conference will be held in San Jose, CA from October 7th-9th. Main conference sessions are Monday 10/8 and Tuesday 10/9; an optional pre-conference workshop is Sunday, 10/7.
If you’re interested, you can register at EventBrite.
They’ve certainly populated the conference title well with buzzwords. The term social graph, popularized by facebookistas (and annoying to those who consider it an obscure jargon synonym for social network – oh, and don’t get jonas luster started on how social network software is not the same thing as a social network) seems to be everywhere these days, and of course people love to talk about recognizing and capturing (or detecting, heh) patterns.
For a counter view of the importance of Facebook’s social graph as a platform for application development, check out the truth about facebook apps: most people ignore them:
> Once installed, most widgets are ignored.
>
> Slide’s “Top Friends” boasts the most active users: 2.7 million people, or 20% of its user base, use it every day. The app with the highest engagement percentage: “WarBook,” a medieval fantasy game, is played by 18,000 people a day, or 42% of its install base. The “iLike” app, oft-cited as a Facebook success story, may be less popular than we thought: 646,000 people, or 9% of its install base, use it daily.
(via cwodtke’s tweets, who recently noted that she and I seem to be on some sort of convergence path)

Sifry steps down as Technorati CEO

· Applications, Searching and Finding, Social Design, The Power of Many, User Experience

Maybe everyone else in the blogosphere knows this already but I just read that Dave Sifry is stepping down as CEO of Technorati: Technorati Weblog: A Change In Seasons
Looks like Tantek’s timing was impeccable.
I first met Dave during the dotcom bust when blogging was booming (again) on the backs of a lot of underemployed folks, myself included. I was working hard, updating Radio Free Blogistan three to seven times a day, hanging out on the #joiito channel on irc, and going to various blogger dinners and shmoozes here in the Bay Area.
I met a lot of folks with interesting startup ideas or who were looking at various ways of turning their passion for blogging and or social networking into businesses or publications or both. Dave’s idea was simple to explain and easy to understand, so I wasn’t surprised to see it get funded and take off.
I’ve got other friends working there now – some of whom I introduced to the Technorati people. I guess I consider myself a friend of the company, if that’s even a possible thing to be, and I’ve hesitated to complain or criticize too much when I’ve found the service sluggish or otherwise frustrating.
I applauded their recent redesign and I still visit the site when I am in the mood for some egosurfing (usually disappointing) or to see who’s been blogging about the Yahoo! Pattern Library recently.
It sounds like Technorati is having a tough time right now. Valleywag reported something like eight layoffs in addition to the CEO vacancy, and people don’t seem to talk about how Google or Yahoo! should buy Technorati so much anymore.
(Disclosure: I work at Yahoo but I have absolutely no knowledge regarding acquisition plans or lack of them for any startup out there.)
I’m sure the next thing Dave does will be interesting and I wish him the best.