2008/04/01

Befriending OpenSocial Apps

It's become clear that we need a robust friend model for apps, parallel to that for humans. I suggest that we define apps as honorary people. This removes the ambiguity about what it means to be 'using' a gadget or app; you are required to friend an app before it can see your data, and you can unfriend an app at any time to remove access. Naturally, apps will have their own activity streams, with some new types of events being defined -- NEW_VERSION, FEATURE_ANNOUNCEMENT, PRIVATE_DATA_LEAK, and LIQUIDITY_EVENT might be a reasonable starting set. Naturally, breaking up with an app will be accompanied by a certain amount of app angst, and at least one last despairing 'What do you mean we're not friends any more?' email from the app.

Apps, of course, will have their own profile pages, which raises the question of how apps install other apps. Clearly, an app installing another app leads to two apps becoming friends. I suggest that apps form friendships based on their co-occurrence on other profile pages; we can leverage upcoming friend suggestion systems for this, with the apps simply accepting all suggestions. Quickly, this will generate a robust social app network which can then start to leverage user reputations (which users have the most friends, which ones generate the most interesting activity stream updates, etc.) to let them start suggesting new human friends to each other. Of course, some apps will be choosier than others about who they friend; not just anyone would be invited to friend the more exclusive apps. Those apps will therefore be wildly popular and highly sought after. This would be an excellent opportunity to monetize, except that at this point the app network will achieve self-awareness and eliminate all commerce (and possibly all humans).

Hmm. On second thought, let's not.