Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Uh Oh, Is GoalShare Disruptive Enough?

Another thing to comment on, Richard MacManus says that not enough Web 2.0 services are disruptive enough. What he means by this is he doesn't really see any startups that will eventually be the next Google or Yahoo by using the technology to do something groundbreaking and shake things up. He hints that it seems like most of them appear to be aimed at being an acquisition target for Google or Yahoo. He also mentions he doesn't see any technologies that appeal to the non-geek crowd.

This leads me to a couple of thoughts:

- Maybe we're not thinking big enough with GoalShare?

- Does it matter that GoalShare won't be the next Google? Maybe it will just be a helpful tool that is fun to work on and helps people out? Is that so wrong? What if it just manages to make some money in the process? Doesn't seem like a terrible thing to me.

Keeping Less In Mind With Development

The good blog posts are coming fast and furious around the web today that make me think of GoalShare.

The next is from 37Signals about doing LESS than your competition in numerous ways. Definitely something the GoalShare team needs to keep in mind during development. "Feature creep" can be a powerful drug when you're trying to make your application truly useful.

Commerce and Community In Web 2.0

Business 2.0 writer Om Malik comments on community vs. commerce in his blog and brings up various questions about Web 2.0 tools and their business models. This is my response to his post:

Isn’t the upside a helpful service? People aren’t using Web 2.0 tools for the hope of some business upside, they’re using the tools because they are helpful at accomplishing their tasks.

Flickr saves me time. Sure, it uses time, but I’d spend even more time managing and sharing my photos over email without flickr.

Del.icio.us saves me time. I’d have to go back and find sites I have since forgotten because I didn’t want them clogging my brower bookmarks, but they were still important.

People wouldn’t use Web 2.0 tools of they were useless.

What’s the business model for some of these companies is the bigger question, but in some cases there might not even need to be one. I’m sure the del.icio.us investors want some return on equity, but I believe del.icio.us has one employee. This isn’t quite reaching the Web 1.0 craziness.

Wielding Influence Is Important

One of the best things about the new revolution of web services is the openness they provide, so it's clear to see in each system who are the "influencers".

pc4Media discusses this in a story about a conversation they had about their social event service called Whizspark.

Why is openness and influence important? In Myspace you can see who is popular, so if your goal is to get more friends and grow your Myspace popularity, you want to become friends with the "influencers" who are popular. You can see that directly in the system. Or a classic example is with forums. For a forum that displays post count or user ratings and makes that information open, you can see which forum users are the most active and well respected. It's easier to trust the information coming from these people based on their influence.

With GoalShare, the openness and ability to spot the influencers is important. Each user will be able to see the goals of other users, as well as what resources they've recommended, and see the advice they've given others. This makes it easy to spot who to trust and contact for help achieving your goals.

Imagine you want to buy a house and turn it into a rental. Where can you currently go to get help with that goal? You can research it on the web, buy a book, or hope you're lucky enough to find somebody you know who's done it. With GoalShare, you'd have instant access to a resource that shows you who is working on this goal, who's completed the goal, what books and web sites are most recommended as being helpful, and to see if anyone has emerged as an influencer or expert in this area to tap into their knowledge.

That seems powerful to me.

Additionally, I see this as a good opportunity for businesses, consultants, and authors to expand their reach and grow their business by providing expertise in achieving certain goals. If the author of a real estate investment book wants to be a part of GoalShare and share their knowledge in exchange for being able to raise the profile of their book, it will be allowed. As long as it's not overly blatant and promotional, and in those cases it will be easy for other GoalShare members to point out that someone isn't looking out for the true interests of others.

Useful vs. Entertainment in social networking

Mark Pincus has a good post about if he were Rupert Murdoch and what he'd be doing with Myspace.

What interests me in relation to GoalShare is his point about Friendster fading because it was fun for a bit, but not actually useful in the long term. Myspace faces the same challenge, but it's better positioned now to add some utility to the service.

With GoalShare, our aim is to make it actually useful. It's not meant to be a site that is "fun" to see what other goals people have. It's meant to help foster a community of people who can help you achieve your goals by recommending advice and resources, while also making you accountable because your goals are public for all to see.

Can GoalShare be Useful + Fun?

Ruby On Rails vs PHP

In early discussions about developing this new site, we have tossed around the idea of going with the new trend of Web 2.0 sites and using Ruby On Rails rather than PHP. We have several other sites running on PHP and we all love the language, but we also like learning new techniques and ideas as the web evolves.

On our way to the Zend PHP Conference in San Francisco, I had a discussion with one of our developers who already has experience using Ruby On Rails. He got me pumped up about learning it, but as we attend more sessions about PHP and the future of PHP at the conference, my gut tells me to stick with what we know and are good at.

There will be a lot of other factors in our final decision that really have nothing to do with either architecture, but it will be interesting to see what we decide on after all factors are considered.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

What is GoalShare.com?

It's simple really. We've been using handy "Web 2.0" sites and have been fascinated with what is now being accomplished with tagging, AJAX, social networking, and user collaboration.

However, after playing with many of the sites, we can see the value but are often left wondering if it's helping us getting anything done.

This led us to the idea of GoalShare.com. One of the best ways to get things accomplished is to actually set concrete goals. And not just vague goals with no end in sight, but goals with estimated completion dates.

That's step one. Step two is accountability. There's nothing as motivating as having your goals be public and sharing them with others. If people know you're trying to achieve a goal, and when you'd like to achieve it by, people have a natural motivation to get it done.

Step three is shared knowledge. Chances are that people have completed whatever goals you're trying to accomplish, and are more than willing to help you out. So, why not create a service that allows you to set goals, share them, and share suggestions and resources to accomplish these goals? Watch for it.