Gag me with an app!

It seems each day I’m presented with yet another "killer app" I need to go evaluate and monitor.

These seem to have a few things in common. First, most seem to have these cutesy 3-7 letter names like "Blyk" and "Fark". Second, none of the names really reflect what the apps do. Next, most of the home pages for these services use fluffy language to describe the value they offer - or how they may be distinct from other similar services within their niche. Finally, many of them are similar in functionality and purpose.

I challenged myself to take a bit of a top-of-mind list of social applications - not including games - today. It started with a list I had on a post-it note on my desk. Some are older and you'll recognize them. Some may be new to you, as they were to me. Note that this was a casual effort - and I quickly got to about 70, in number. Sorted alphabetically...
  • Backflip
  • Bebo
  • Blinklist
  • Bloglog
  • Blogmarks
  • Blyk
  • BrightKite
  • Digg
  • Diigo
  • Disqus
  • Dopplr
  • Facebook
  • Fark
  • Faves
  • Feed Me Links
  • Flickr
  • Friendster
  • Friendfeed
  • Furl
  • Goodreads
  • Ilike
  • Jaiku
  • Jott
  • Hi5
  • Librarything
  • Linked in
  • Live
  • ma.gnolia
  • Mixx
  • MrWong
  • Multiply
  • Myspace
  • Newsvine
  • Netvibes
  • NetVous
  • Orkut
  • Pandora
  • Picasa
  • PhotoCrank
  • Plaxo
  • Pownce
  • Propeller
  • Reddit
  • Seesmic
  • Segnalo
  • Simpy
  • Slashdot
  • Slide
  • Slideshare
  • Smugmug
  • Spurl
  • Stumbleupon
  • Tailrank
  • Tumblr
  • Twirl
  • Twitter
  • Twitterbuzz
  • Upcoming
  • Utterz
  • Veotag
  • Vimeo
  • Wink
  • Qik
  • Yelp
  • Zoomr

I actually put these in a spreadsheet and categorized them by type (Community, Utility, Media Sharing, Bookmarking...etc.) after looking up each one. I also added a brief description. This was a lot of work. (Thankfully, I had a client delay so I had time). The thing is, I kept finding more as I went along. If you're reading this you may even know of one that's not on this list... and I wonder how many more are added each day...

Sunday's discovery (yes Mack - it was on Twitter) was "PLURK". I hadn't heard of Plurk before. Maybe I spend too much of my spare time changing diapers or something. Evidently, it's Toronto's answer to Friendfeed or Twitter. I'm not enthusiastic about the name... it reminds me of "PERVERT" plus "LURK" - not positive really. I guess at the least it is memorable.

All this to say: Call me crazy but I'm seriously getting to the point of total app saturation; so much so that I've developed a syndrome I call "APP reflex." It involves a facial tic, shoulder spasm and a gagging sinus noise. This came on gradually but was fully in force after one day of casual research. It is doing wonders for my marriage (attractive!!!).

I can only imagine what the high tech venture capitalists think about this topic as they're presented with the flavor of the day startup. They probably have nightmares. But I digress again...

Like the rest of you, I do have a day job. Fortunately, this is relevant to my day job, so I can justify writing this post. It's enough to say that it IS very hard to keep up on the exponential growth of the social applications, sites and utilities out there. It takes time to evaluate and use each one -- and some tinkering to figure out which tools are things that will become valuable for the future, and which things are fly-by-night, wannabe technologies.

This exponential growth is another reason why Forrester's Peter Kim recently produced research that indicates a very strong lack of confidence in agency ability to keep up on new technologies and know how to apply them intuitively to boost bottom line results and customer loyalty. ;-)

If by chance I happen to find something valuable, I've got to take the time to use it - and have it top-of-mind, and keep up on it - figure out how it's going to be valuable to my clients. That's not always easy. Truth be told -- the activity can be a colossal waste of time if one is not selective. While now I could be considered a "twitterpated" evangelist, the whole investment thing was part of the reason I was a latecomer to Twitter.

But there is hope as the apps proliferate. Last week, I was quite happy to find AddThis... an application that allows you to add one button to your site that allows users to Digg, Multiply, Bookmark, Reddit, Twitter away on any post... In fact, I believe it works with at least 20 services. Adding this to my site was grand time saver and I was happy not to have to add those links individually. ;-)

Who knows how many other helpful utilities like this will come along for folks like me -- like us -- who are time starved and look for a way to cut through the noise and figure things out!

So I'm encouraged... and as the apps multiply like rabbits in heat...I will press on - bold and brave. I heard rumors about drug trial for people dealing with APP REFLEX and I'm thinking of signing up. Feel free to join me.

But seriously, if you know of more social apps, send them to me with a brief link or description. I'll do my best to publish this list with categories and descriptions in the near future for the benefit of all.


Mack Collier said...

You're right, there's just too much out there. And the problem is that what I call the 'Shiny Toy Hunters' seem to go ballistic about each new one. I've heard in just the last few days that BOTH Friendfeed and Plurk are either going to replace Twitter, or 'kill' it.

What I've started doing is watching how the 'power' users use these sites. If someone is spending a lot of time with a site/tool, it's because they have figured out how to get some value from it. Once I see how they are using it, that greatly helps me decide if the site/tool is for me.

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I’m Leigh Durst, a 20 year veteran in business, operations, customer strategy, ecommerce, digital & social media and marketing. Simply put, I’m a strategist that helps companies (start-up to blue chip) achieve business shift, create more compelling online and offline experiences. I also write, speak and teach about experience design and next-generation business. I’m a futurist, visionary, strategist, doer and connector with a passion for people and helping others. When I’m not on the road, you’ll find me in the San Francisco bay area, working, beaching it and hanging out with my family and dog.


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