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blog.gkaindl.com » Birth of a Web 2.0 hit?

blog.gkaindl.com

nerd nouveau

Birth of a Web 2.0 hit?

Techcrunch has published an article about a Dutch Web 2.0 start-up called Wakoopa. So, what’s interesting about this? Well, the site isn’t even up yet (clicking the link just takes you to a countdown that expires in about 2 days), but they apparently at least have a blog.

This gives me the rare opportunity to witness the launch of a Web 2.0 app from the front row, and even to jot down some thoughts of what it could/should be like.

According to the article and the blog, Wakoopa is some sort of application popularity contest using a downloaded tracker, much like last.fm tracks your music listening habits. It strongly reminds me of iUseThis, the popular cross-over between Digg and MacUpdate.

Looking at the reactions to the Techcrunch article so far (and the article itself), people seems to be somewhat doubtful of Wakoopa’s usefulness. While the article’s author “can’t see it breaking out of the developer community”, the comments range from “truely (sic!) useless” to “Analytics for things that don’t matter.”, however, with an occasional “interesting concept…cool team” thrown in. This makes following the launch much more compelling, since we obviously don’t have a sure winner here!

At the surface, Wakoopa really sounds to be somewhat limited in use: I can’t really see the point of letting the world know much time I’ve spent in XCode, TextMate or iTerm. There’s simply no social benefit I can see, other than maybe evoking the idea of being somewhat important by spending multiple hours with the email client every day (which either means I’m pretty popular or unable to set up a spam filter).

Still, I don’t think Wakoopa is doomed as of yet. A constitutive element to an application’s success is not only the service it provides, but the usage experience: More specifically, if it’s fun to use, people spend more time with the application and will inevitably come up with ways to use the service in innovative ways, extending the application’s value beyond the basic scenarios. I could see people monitoring the Wakoopa data and react to it: For example, people may post hints on how to migrate data to newly popular apps, post about tools that complement popular apps or even form “user groups” based on software they are all using together. There are possibilities to use the tracking data in value-adding, “social” ways, but the question is wether people will actually bother to go there.

In fact, the service seems to a lot different from the Web 2.0 successes it wants to mimic. Last.fm tracks music: Firstly, music is inherently more social than applications could ever be. See, you wouldn’t talk about the apps you use on your first date, but you would talk about the music you like. Secondly, music recommendation is fun (everybody likes listening to new bands), but I’m not so sure about app recommendations: While I can just listen to the suggested music easily, trying out an application is a bit more invasive. At least, you have to download an application and drag-and-drop install it, maybe even go through an installation wizard. That’s already a above my inconvenience threshold. Maybe I’d do it once or twice, but if I do not have the feeling that the recommendations are really, really good, I won’t do it ever again.

Thusly, the main boon Wakoopa tries to offer, i.e. recommending applications based on your usage profile, must be implemented in a really smart, semantical way in order to work. If it’s something along the lines of “Oh, you are using Safari a lot, you might also like Firefox since it’s also a nice browser”, I’d ditch Wakoopa in a second. If it’s something like “You are often editing CSS in TextMate, you might want to try out CSSEdit, a dedicated stylesheet editor with many useful features”, then it has a future. See, the key point in application usage is not only what application you use, but what you use it for. Just that I’m using TextMate says nothing about what I’m doing and where my interests are. The semantic information Wakoopa would need is what I’m editing. Is it Javascript, is it Objective-C, maybe I’m just writing a novel with LaTex? That’s what Wakoopa will have to look at. That’s how it could connect me to other people.

As far as being “fun to use” is concerned, it would be over immediately for me if the tracker software was just some Ruby/Python/Perl script hooked up to a WxWidgets GUI. Sorry, this type of thing doesn’t work for Mac users. It absolutely *has* to be a well-integrated and unobtrusive application with a Mac look and feel. Also, give me fun features to spice up the rather bland analytics taste: Congratulate me to my laser-like focusing abilities when I’ve been using boring work-software like XCode or Eclipse for more than 2 hours without a break. Tell me to get a life when I’ve been using those for more than 50 hours a week. Boo me when I’m switching back to the RSS reader when I should be working…

Obviously, I won’t be in it to track my application usage, since that’s really the type of analytics that I don’t need. I’m in it for the overall experience. It’ll be exciting to see wether Wakoopa can provide a good one!

3 Comments

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    Robert Gaal
    wrote on Apr 30, 2007 at 12:56

    Hi Georg,

    Thanks you for your extensive review of our future pro’s and con’s! All things we considered when building this app, so it’s good to see we’re on one line.

    I don’t think we are a sure winner, that’s what makes it fun! In my opinion: software may not be as sexy as music, but to some people it has the same value. Especially gamers: you got FPS’ers, racers, MMORPG’ers, etc. The same can go for coders, designers, etc. All people passionate about software, so a niche of course, but still a defined large audience. Easy to be helped by showing what’s popular and what’s the right tool for the job.

    Experience is of course a greater goal to us than just tracking usage. That’s why we’ve got a really quick way of submitting a review, and we’ll expand on this in the future. Sharing experiences in a social environment is what we’re about.

    The tracker consist of a Cocoa app, so don’t worry, we hate those scripts as much as you do ;)

    If you’d like a beta account for Wakoopa, send me a ping and I’ll hook you up.

    Thanks!


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    georg
    wrote on Apr 30, 2007 at 13:21

    Thanks for the offer, Robert, but I’ll sign up just like any other user once Wakoopa is officially launched (I’m really thrilled to witness the birth of a web app right from the start, since I’ve always been late to the party so far). Being part of the beta may spoil the “ordinary user” experience.

    Good to hear that the Mac-version of the tracker is a Cocoa app, that’s definitely the right way to go!


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    blog.gkaindl.com » Wakoopa revisited
    wrote on May 17, 2007 at 16:28

    [...] little more than 2 weeks ago, I’ve written a post about Wakoopa, a Web 2.0 start-up that wants to make your software get social (Rather: Your [...]

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Hi, how are you? My name is Georg Kaindl, and I'm a twenty-something from Vienna, Austria. During the day, I'm a CS student at the Vienna University of Technology, but at night, I turn into an independent software developer for the Macintosh platform, social nerd, lazy entrepreneur and intuitive researcher.

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