Sunday, May 29, 2005


Jeneane Sessum on the response to Scoble’s news aggregator wishlist:

What we see here is a micromarket coup for aggregator/product folks — and an example for other companies. Want to know what you should do next? Find a blogger with a wide audience of users and ask him or her to ask us.

Blogs can be a one-stop shop for organizations to find out what should be in their next release.
I’m not so sure: are a handful of Scoble commenters really representative of the entire aggregator marketplace? I doubt it.

If I’ve learnt anything in my 14 years of Internet time, it’s that the lurkers always far, far outweigh the posters: this has been true on mailing lists, true on Usenet, true on web forums, and I’m sure it’s true on blogs too. As I write this, there are 25 comments on Scoble’s post; but Scoble’s readership is far, far higher than that.

So, trusting blog comments to set “what should be in your next release”? Risky. As a focus group, it’s too self-selecting; too focussed on the pet wishlists of a few power users. Far better, I think, to use blogging as a public brainstorming exercise: to identify what you could do next.

And arguably, the best way to satisfy your power-users’ wishes is to build in powerful enough scripting for them to build their own solutions: there’s whole communities surrounding GreaseMonkey scripting in Firefox and AppleScript scripting in iTunes.

(Update: a similar response, to a different Scoble post, on the furrygoat experience. “Design by committee never works when it comes to building software. In fact, it leads to only one thing: feature creep.”)