Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, WordPress, Svpply, Foursquare, Flickr, Google, QUOTEfm, Pocket, LastFM, SoundCloud, Spotify, Tumblr, IFTTT, Notesy/Notational Velocity – these are the services I use, most of them daily. Some people might thing these are way too many. Do I need all of them? Nope, probably not. But I don’t want to miss one of them. Some might think I don’t even use all services – like Pinterest. But Pinterest for me is too random, I collect interest-based: stuff I want to buy: Svpply; things I like: tumblr (more on this one in the next post). And for me I figured out everything I do online is interest-based. And why am I so obsessed with these services? Because they support my interest.
Like I wrote in the about page of this blog: my interest is difficult to limit. I can get interested in anything. Just tell me the right story. Of course I have favorites: coffee, food – especially sandwiches, design, interior, music, travelling, the digital world, sports and much more. And I love to find new stuff: new music, new things I can put in my apartment, new articles, new restaurants. These services above help me find the right things, not only new stuff but also things that are so pointed exactly onto my taste. So that I rarely spend any time (in the web) with stuff I am not interested in.
Why do I have to know the best and the newest things? It is not about showing off, take a role of opinion leader or something it’s just curiosity. Curiosity makes me do all these things. And I think it is a very important feeling. Maybe one of the most important aspects when it comes to innovation and change. The Oxford Dictionary defines curiosity as “a strong desire to know or learn something.” That’s it. Without knowing or learning new things you get stuck – and by getting stuck you loose.
Back to the topic Digital Utopia.
As much as I love these services, I get cramps when I see how limited they are. Not until recently I wasn’t able to switch from Instagram to Foursquare although I connected a photo to a place. I once tweeted to Dennis Crowley, co-founder of Foursquare, my idea and he responded and a while later they integrated a switch so you can open the exact Foursquare location from within Instagram.
There are many more examples. This is a very very cool example and apparently two saw the positive impact on both their services and connected them. It’s just a matter of API. And IFTTT uses these APIs to let you make some of these connections. It’s a really nice service. I started to play around with it a little bit and created this tumblr where I collect all the things I do: What I’ve done. It is just the collection of things I marked as purchased on Svpply, places I checked in on Foursquare, articles I read on Pocket, music I like on SoundCloud, etc. No magic, nothing even interesting, it is like a little diary for myself and to see what is possible.
But here is the problem: one important aspect is that all APIs are there, open, usable. Twitter for example is only an “Action Channel”, which means you can only send things to Twitter, you can’t for example use Tweets as a trigger. Why? Because Twitter doesn’t want to. A while ago I wrote this on tumblr:
I don’t get it. Changes against the customers, against the users are worst than regression. It is betrayal. Especially if one like Jack Dorsey tells you that the customer is most important. I get it that it is also about making money but there need to be another way than limiting the usage for your customers. I don’t care if the services want things from me, information, data, money – but as long as I get a service back that serves me.
Facebook. Like I said I don’t care that they want as much data as possible as long as I get something back in return. Did you every realize that you can’t just copy text from within the iPhone app? Or copy a link like you can in any other service? Facebook wants you to hold as much as possible inside their own environment that it is starting to suck.
The Utopia Part
How wonderful would it be if services would really work together? If the APIs would be so open you can actually improve the services. Putting real focus on the customer would lead to that. In the beginning it was’n possible to send your played songs from SoundCloud to LastFM. Now it is, because someone made it possible. I want that to be possible with any service. And not just in a complicated Github way. I want to be able to connect it like IFTTT. Some things work perfectly together like QUOTEfm and Pocket, Spotify and Facebook, SoundCloud and Tumblr. But please, don’t limit the customer in choosing which services should work together.
Don’t get me started on this one. I want a folder on my MacBook that makes it possible to put videos in there, and they should be automatically send to my iPad. What would we do without AirFoil?
What do I want to say?
I love new services and believe me, there could be much more. (Like a travelling service, something better for sports, a great website for weather….). But if someone starts his own project they should also think about how to connect them with other services, from the beginning. Instead of just adding something to the digital world, integrate it, connect it. Not only by making it possible to search for users from you twitter following list, “share this on facebook”, etc. take a look what data you could use, what makes sense. Thank you.