All posts tagged ‘fireeagle’

File Under: Software & Tools

Side Project to Startup: Shizzow Q&A

Shizzow is a new location-based social service, most similar to BrightKite. The bootstrapped startup is also a side project. The four team members have full-time jobs outside of Shizzow.

Ryan SnyderWebmonkey got together with Shizzow CEO-by-night Ryan Snyder. Read on to find out why he won’t make an iPhone app, Shizzow’s relation to Google Calendar, and that the original name rhymed with “kazoo.”

Webmonkey: How does Shizzow compare to other location-based social networking sites like BrightKite, or a platform like FireEagle?

Ryan Snyder: We think of Shizzow as much more of a social service than a location-based service.  The primary action on Shizzow is to “shout out” your location, but to us declaring your location means nothing unless doing so enables you to get together with people for a face-to-face conversation.  While other services have added photo sharing or restaurant reviews to their service, we’re maintaining a philosophy of simplicity – if a certain feature doesn’t help you meet new people or get together with friends, we won’t implement that feature.


Webmonkey: Many successful web applications start with developers scratching their own itch. How was Shizzow born?

Snyder: Shizzow is definitely one of those projects that came out of us developers scratching our own itch.  In September 2007, a number of developers here in Portland were using a shared Google calendar to coordinate meetups for coding sessions, and we found it too cumbersome to notify each of the group members when we’d arrived at that place.  Mark Wallaert approached me and said, “So… Ryan, I’ve got this idea…”, then sketched out the Shizzow concept on my markerboard.  When he told me how it would solve our communication problems, I was sold.

Webmonkey: Why are you opening in only a few cities?

Snyder: One of the difficulties of unveiling a new site or service is that of building community.  Rather than inviting random people from all over the world, we felt it would be better to invite people to use Shizzow city-by-city so that when we roll out to your city, all of your friends will hopefully be Shizzow users within the first day or two instead of straggling in over the coming weeks or months.

Webmonkey: How have the four of you balanced this large side project with day jobs?

Snyder: Whew, this has not been easy!  I’d probably call it “burnout prevention” before I’d call it anything resembling balance!  Each of us has our own methods of meeting Shizzow’s needs on top of our day jobs.  I personally dedicate the first 2-3 hours of my day to Shizzow before heading into cubicleville for my 9 to 5′er, as well as dedicating one or both weekend days to whatever tasks may be at hand.  But the real reason we’ve been able to persevere over the last year has been the patience and understanding of our friends and loved ones.  We simply could not have done this without their support.


Webmonkey: BrightKite got a lot of attention for its iPhone app. When can I expect to see a beta version of Shizzow’s?

Snyder: Since we’re a small team, we’re trying to remain as focused as possible on Shizzow’s core functionality.  We feel that developing  platform-specific applications will actually scatter our attention by having to support multiple UIs and platforms.  We’re currently working on an API to allow other developers to build applications for Shizzow.  Besides, there are some rockstar mobile developers that will probably build something cooler than we’d imagined possible using our API. 


Webmonkey: My projects always have a list of alternate names. Can you share anything Shizzow was almost called?

Snyder: All of our original names for the project were either taken or they were just lame!  Our first interface for Shizzow actually had a spelling variation, where we ended Shizzow with “ou” instead of “ow”.  People kept calling it “Shizzoo” so we quickly realized that we needed to grab the “ow” domain name before that name stuck!

[Photo by Aaron Hockley]

File Under: Software & Tools

Shout Out Your Whereabouts With Shizzow

Shouting from ShizzowAfter months of private beta testing in Portland, location-based social network Shizzow has launched in the tech-friendly Bay Area. Now the coffee-shop working laptoperati can easily let their friends know whose WiFi they’re soaking up today. Like the location granddaddy Dodgeball, Shizzow is focused on connecting people in real life.

To “shout” from a place, you first search for it by name. Shizzow does not let users broadcast an address or city as a location, in contrast to other services, like BrightKite. Your dashboard shows recent shouts from your friends — the users you’ve chosen to “listen” to, a feature similar to following on Twitter.

Shizzow Dashboard

Privacy on Shizzow is an on/off setting. If in private mode, you must manually accept any listeners. There is only a single level of granularity. BrightKite has trusted friends who get your exact location. Normal friends may only have access to your city, which makes for some useless messages. Shizzow suggests that you only shout when you want someone to know where you are.

One cool feature unique to Shizzow is the ability to edit a listing, or add a new one to the database. While much of the site is built off of local APIs, Shizzow stores a local copy that can be edited Wiki-style by the community. It also means users can creatively name their homes, offices and other locations.

In addition to BrightKite, other Shizzow competitors include Plazes, Loopt and Whrrl. Each service lets you declare your location and see where your friends are. Yahoo’s Fire Eagle, a central platform for storing and sharing location, is also similar. Fire Eagle does not have any social features. Instead, it is more likely to be built upon by Shizzow and similar services. Shizzow does not yet support Fire Eagle, while BrightKite does.

Some will no doubt see Shizzow’s limited feature set as a liability. For example, BrightKite has a beautiful iPhone app, while Shizzow has no plans to create one. The Shizzow team, made up of four Portlanders with full-time jobs, see their focus on core features as a strength. They’re hard at work on an API now, and apparently counting on you to create their iPhone app and additional features.

That’s not to say Shizzow isn’t adding new stuff. It recently incorporated Geode to guess at a user’s location, unleashed SMS shouting and pays close attention to its Get Satisfaction community, implementing many ideas suggested by its users.

If you live in Portland or the Bay Area, let Shizzow know on its invite request form. Then let Webmonkey know how it works for you. All other cities will have to be patient: A public beta is scheduled for March 2009.

See also:

Yahoo’s New Application Platform Is Heavy On Social Features

Yahoo announced more details around its new application platform at a press event in San Francisco on Friday.

The new platform, dubbed Yahoo Open Strategy (YOS), represents an attempt to unify all of the company’s services using the same technology. The end result is a massive overhaul of its user-facing services, many of which are modeled after the most popular features of social networks like Facebook and MySpace.

New system-wide features include Twitter-like status updates, widgets and plenty of of APIs third-party developers can use to access Yahoo social sharing services.

In other words, think of what Yahoo would look like if you added all of Facebook’s famous features. Still, Yahoo spokesmen were eager to brush off any similarities to Facebook. In essence, the YOS strategy is what you’d get if Yahoo took all of its killer features — search, mail, calendar, photo sharing and a customizable start page — and added Facebook’s killer features — status updates, rich profiles, contact management, the Facebook Connect login apparatus and various APIs.

In many ways, its as if Yahoo is catching up with Facebook. In doing so, it might give Facebook, a company mired in aimlessness, incentive to carve out some clear direction. Considering the amount of development resources Yahoo has thrown behind Flickr, Yahoo messenger, Yahoo mail, web search and the rest of its empire, if the company can build a social network that’s actually successful, it will be in a position to truly compete, giving Facebook and MySpace a run for their money.

Yahoo is touting YOS’ infrastructure benefits as a more robust and scalable computing cloud than what its competitors have to offer. There are a staggering number of features packaged with the new platform. Below is the boiled-down feature list:

Platform Feature What Does it Do? Sounds like?
Accounts Unified Yahoo accounts, this time with light registration. For example, you can register with a Hotmail email address. Yahoo Accounts, Google Accounts, Windows Live ID
Administrative Interface A rich administrative application to carefully allow or disallow application access to your profile data. You’ll be able to individually administer any particular data point an app is requesting OAuth (in fact, it uses OAuth), Facebook’s application installation process
Profiles It’s a pretty straightforward address book, but unified over all Yahoo properties. No need to enter profile information twice. Plaxo, Google Contacts, Windows Live ID
Activator Suggests contacts based on who you email or contact most. Gmail & Google Talk contact sorting, Facebook Recommendations
Updates Status updates via an API. For example, you could

see messages like “Scott just uploaded a Flickr photo.”

Facebook, Facebook BUZZ, Twitter, FriendFeed
Application Platform Gadgets, widgets, and other web applications integrated into Yahoo properties — including OpenSocial apps. Facebook applications, iGoogle widgets, Yahoo front page feeds
Data (YQL) and API Access Application programming interfaces for all of the features listed here plus mainstream Yahoo products. Want to download your Yahoo profile? You could write a script to do that. SQL, Yahoo Pipes, Web 2.0 API’s

The downside? If you want to play, you’ll need a Yahoo user account. Despite Yahoo granting full access to all of its data and applications through APIs, to utilize any of these “open” features, you and your friends will need to move what is on your Facebook or MySpace account and add it to your Yahoo account, too. Yahoo sees this as a way to get more users, and get them using more Yahoo products.

Yahoo’s Ash Patel says the success of the new platform will be measured purely by how much traffic it generates across Yahoo properties.

“For instance,” he says, “the average user using two or three things is now using four or five things. From the point of view of being the biggest publisher on the web, this will really increase the amount of users we have.”

Patel also touched on the attraction for third party developers to get cracking on its APIs. “We can sit here at Yahoo and we can guess all these applications [that users want], or we can get all this information out and let developers build it themselves.”

Furthermore, Yahoo’s Application Platform allows developers access to Yahoo applications in innovative new ways. For instance, the ability to build applications (complete with ads) for integration on Yahoo’s front page, which, according to Patel, is the most-used starting point on the web. Building an app for these pages gives software companies an opportunity to tap Yahoo’s audience for both users and advertising money. Also, Yahoo’s upcoming OpenMail feature will allow users to build applications on top of Yahoo Mail — similar to Google’s Gmail Labs, except at the hands of third-party developers.

Yahoo is rolling out these features over time. Users saw the first wave with SearchMonkey, BOSS and FireEagle earlier this summer. Last week’s refresh of Yahoo Profiles, complete with its new Update application, was the first consumer-end piece of the platform. Sometime next week, Yahoo’s Application Platform (including OpenSocial integration), YQL database and Yahoo APIs will see a first-stage release.

Further in the future, we’ll see the rest of Yahoo’s many properties begin to utilize all of the new features of the platform.

See Also:

File Under: Uncategorized

Brightkite API Could Usurp Yahoo’s FireEagle

BrightkiteCoordinate-sharing site Brightkite announced a beta API that could put them way ahead of Yahoo and FireEagle … if only enough developers get access to it.

Brightkite calls itself a location-based social network. Friends “check in” as they move about town, post messages and upload photos. The details of its API are minimal. At least one site, Socialthing, has integrated with Brightkite.

As developers clamor to create location-based services, Brightkite has the opportunity to become a platform as well as a service. The site already has significant adoption among the techies, so their API could be really big. The same people who are users of their service will be early adopters of their API.

Yahoo’s FireEagle is a similar platform, but in extremely-limited beta. Brightkite, also in beta, has an opportunity to leapfrog as the place people store their location. The first API to be generally available will have a huge advantage amongst developers eager to code websites, Facebook applications, and iPhone apps to take advantage of reading and writing location data.

We hope we see more details about — and more access to — the Brightkite API soon, before they become a sad footnote of innovation, like Dodgeball. The similar place-sharing site was the talk of geekfest SXSW before being acquired by Google in 2005. A lack of engineering resources left the site to languish amid a geocoded gold rush. The founders left The Goog, frustrated, in 2007.

See also: