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File Under: Metaservices, The Rise Of

By - February 04, 2011

memolane.png

I’m beta testing a new service called Memolane, which collects the breadcrumbs we drop around the web (from Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, RSS, etc) and visualizes them as a timeline. It’s not fair for me to review the service at this point – I’ll save that for later. Rather, I’m interested in what it augurs: The rise of metaservices.

The problem/opportunity addressed by metaservices has been worked to death by folks far smarter than I – in particular by well-intentioned developers looking to create better standards for services to share data. But so far solutions have failed to address the market opportunity. I think this is going to change, in the main, because we’ll demand it does.

Let me step back and describe the problem. In short, heavy users of the web depend on scores – sometimes hundreds – of services, all of which work wonderfully for their particular purpose (eBay for auctions, Google for search, OpenTable for restaurant reservations, etc). But these services simply don’t communicate with each other, nor collaborate in a fashion that creates a robust or evolving ecosystem.

The rise of the app economy exacerbates the problem – most apps live in their own closed world, sharing data sparingly, if at all. And while many have suggested that Facebook’s open social graph can help untangle the problem, in fact it only makes it worse, as Fred put it in a recent post (which sparked this Thinking Out Loud session for me):

The people I want to follow on Etsy are not the same people I want to follow on Twitter. The people I want to follow on Svpply are not my Facebook friends. I don’t want to sharemy Foursquare checkins with everyone on Twitter and Facebook.

Like nearly all of us, Fred’s got a social graph instrumentation problem and a service data-sharing problem. Here’s what he suggests:

I would like to be able to run these people through all my social graphs on other services (not just Facebook and Twitter) and also my phone contacts and my emails to help me filter them and quickly add those people if I think they would make the social experience on the specific service useful to me.

When you break it down, what Fred is asking is this:

1. That each service he uses will make the data that he creates available to any other service with which he wishes to share.

2. That each service he uses be capable of leveraging that data.

For that to happen, every app, every site, and every service needs to be more than just an application or a content directory. It needs to be a platform, capable of negotiating ongoing relationships with other platforms on behalf of its customers in real time. This, of course, is what Facebook does already. Soon, I believe, every single service of scale will work in a similar fashion.

When you think about a world in which this idea comes true, all sorts of new services become possible: Metaservices, services which couldn’t exist unless they had the oxygen of other services’ datastreams to consume. At present, I can’t really think of any such services that are currently at scale. (I can think of some promising stuff in early stages – Memolane and Percolate come to mind.)

Sure, tons of services use Facebook connect to leverage our social graph. But that’s a half step. So is authorizing or logging into a site via Twitter. Solves a simple problem, but doesn’t add much value beyond that.

But I’ve noticed a trend of late. While a year ago I’d only see a “service connection” happen between an app and Facebook or Twitter, lately I’ve noticed such connections happening all over the place – with LinkedIn, Google, Foursquare, and many others. I think it’s only a matter of time – and not much of it – before we have a “metaservice” hit on our hands – an entirely new and delightful service that curates our digital lives and adds value above the level of a single site.

Perhaps it’s already out there. What have you seen that qualifies as a metaservice today?   

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24 thoughts on “File Under: Metaservices, The Rise Of

  1. dara says:

    wow, it must be wonderful service which unify some service to be one place/ I’m just try it and it’s wonderful. Keep growth john

  2. Jared says:

    You’ve clearly identified the goal: every app needs to become a platform. Part of that is standardizing services and data sharing policies. This is a huge challenge, one that I’m hopeful developers can solve in collaboration with each other.

    I’m particularly excited about the recent news surrounding Singly and it’s open source Locker Project. Personal data store efforts such as this have potential, and provide a reason to agree upon standards.

  3. Marshall Kirkpatrick says:

    John, what could be a big one that we wrote first about last night: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/creator_of_instant_messaging_protocol_to_launch_ap.php

  4. I agree with Marshall – the data locker/databank concept could be the missing element in this.

    http://www.slideshare.net/marcedavis/marc-davis-telco-2-best-practice-live-summer-2010-presentation

  5. I agree with Marshall – the data locker/databank concept could be the missing element in this.

    http://www.slideshare.net/marcedavis/marc-davis-telco-2-best-practice-live-summer-2010-presentation

  6. vexara says:

    This is a huge challenge

  7. John says:

    Marshall and all – yes, sounds promising. not the first attempt, to be sure, but it’s a new day. Now, I must speak up for the trees here and say: How are we mere mortals to interpret this:

    “a new wire protocol for exchanging JSON in a real-time and fully decentralized manner, enabling applications to connect directly and participate as servers on the edge of the network.”

    I mean, WTF?! Kidding…but we need to get past this for my mom to use this. And I can’t wait!

  8. James says:

    How can metaservices help us to define the roles we have and link our supplier services together to create composite services?

    I know that I am an individual but I am a husband, father, brother, uncle, friend, an employee and a colleague. These roles cause me to have different sharing and collaborating requirements.

    I have information that I want to share with family and ‘some’ friends but not to future employers as they seem to judge work performance with your ‘letting your hair down’ behaviour. Whereas professionally, there is a different ‘face’ you wish to show.

    I think authentication (OpenID) and simple but finely granular authorisation is going to become more important too as well as a robust extensible Meta-data scheme, possible including age, location or membership based certification – possibly allowing different IDs to be linked and used according to the service and ‘role’ you presently are ‘using’, e.g. are you at home or at work? Are you communicating with colleagues, friends or perhaps Great Aunty Mabel who would be ashamed by your saturday night exploits.

  9. galeal says:

    The future, no doubt. Of course the how and when have nothing but doubt ; ). I like the metaservices consuming oxygen from apps concept – good way to explain it – and important to keep that separation.

    We need partition the problem. Pls share if anyone already has a good reference model but I think these are the three main layers?

    1. The governance layer – what data I share (and/or my apps share) with whom. Haven’t seen much promising in this area – anyone else seen more?

    2. The data sharing methods layer – how I share the data, the abstraction layers above (or replacing?) (n) web services for (n) apps. Mostly independent of JSON vs XML etc.

    3. The data transport layer – centralized (easier in some ways), decentralized (better), etc. This is where Telehash etc. come into play.

    Of course business model separate but equally important for this ecosystem to develop. Do like what data locker appears to be doing there if I understand it correctly – make the data available, enable others to build apps on top of it…apps that will need business models and will drive progress back down the stack.

  10. John says:

    Marshall, guys – thanks for all the input. Agreed, that looks very interesting and I’m going to dig into it…

  11. Hi John

    I don’t think we are talking future here – in fact it’s already here.

    Here in Copenhagen we work like wild rabbits with a concept where we collect your social graph across social networks.

    It is basically very simple: by aggregating data from your online social networks and services, Wosju’s algorithms analyze context, form and frequency to provide you with a qualitative output of your network. In reality, however, Wosju is a very complex system leveraging tons of data from tons of sources. But that’s not interesting. What’s interesting is that Wosju will help you dramatically increase the potential utilization of your network. It combines and visualizes all of your traceable relations across different social graphs, calculates the strength behind each relation based on a specific context and provides you with valuable information about your relations and your network.

    Why use Wosju?
    As we connect and communicate with people all over the web, resulting in a vast number of connections and peers, the real output of your network becomes more and more diffuse. Wosju will change that, by providing you with unseen knowledge about your network. Forget the quantity of followers, peers and friends. Use Wosju to extract quality out of each relation, giving you an all-new perspective on your network.

    If interested drop by at http://www.wosju.com

    All the best
    Hans Henrik

  12. dealy says:

    I think authentication (OpenID) and simple but finely granular authorisation is going to become more important too as well as a robust extensible Meta-data scheme, possible including age, location or membership based certification

  13. It saddens me that these things are arriving, but are probably not using things like SPARQL and RDF.

  14. hey John,

    Interesting reflection here. What’s the difference between these and the rise of mashups? Is it just mashups becoming standard operating procedure?

    Cheers
    Gab

  15. berby says:

    It is basically very simple: by aggregating data from your online social networks and services, Wosju’s algorithms analyze context, form and frequency to provide you with a qualitative output of your network. In reality, however, Wosju is a very complex system leveraging tons of data from tons of sources. But that’s not interesting. What’s interesting is that Wosju will help you dramatically increase the potential utilization of your network. It combines and visualizes all of your traceable relations across different social graphs, calculates the strength behind each relation based on a specific context and provides you with valuable information about your relations and your network.

    Read more: http://battellemedia.com/archives/2011/02/file_under_metaservices_the_rise_of#comment_149359#ixzz1DCQssPQ1

  16. Jordan says:

    Isn’t this what friendfeed does in a nutshell, or am I missing something? With all of these independent services or ‘apps’, everything need to be configured to talk to one another anyway. If I want foursquare to tell twitter, I link them. If I want tweets to go into my facebook wall, I link them. Ergo, foursquare goes to facebook via twitter. If I want my connections in linkedin to see what I am up to, they can through my twitter. Likewise, I can ‘remote tweet’ from linkedin, and send it out to a twitter account. If I don’t want it to flow that way, I unlink them. Or, does this app expect our thoughts to do it automatically? Maybe I am missing the point here.

  17. maria says:

    HI, bro
    It is basically very simple: by aggregating data from your online social networks and services, Wosju’s algorithms analyze context, form and frequency to provide you with a qualitative output of your network. In reality, however, Wosju is a very complex system leveraging tons of data from tons of sources. But that’s not interesting. What’s interesting is that Wosju will help you dramatically increase the potential utilization of your network. It combines and visualizes all of your traceable relations across different social graphs, calculates the strength behind each relation based on a specific context and provides you with valuable information about your relations and your network.

    Why use Wosju?
    As we connect and communicate with people all over the web, resulting in a vast number of connections and peers, the real output of your network becomes more and more diffuse. Wosju will change that, by providing you with unseen knowledge about your network. Forget the quantity of followers, peers and friends. Use Wosju to extract quality out of each relation, giving you an all-new perspective on your network.

  18. The emerging social web is still very much in its infancy. Right now, the tools to make sense of it are pretty crude, but lots of folks are working on ways of making it easier.

  19. danilo says:

    Hi,…
    I know that I am an individual but I am a husband, father, brother, uncle, friend, an employee and a colleague. These roles cause me to have different sharing and collaborating requirements.

    I have information that I want to share with family and ‘some’ friends but not to future employers as they seem to judge work performance with your ‘letting your hair down’ behaviour. Whereas professionally, there is a different ‘face’ you wish to show.

  20. persuy says:

    Yes so do with my opinion, I think authentication (OpenID) and simple but finely granular authorisation is going to become more important too as well as a robust extensible Meta-data scheme, possible including age, location or membership based certification

  21. John,
    You couldn’t be more correct in your assertions.

    We have been building a meta-service platform that is tightly integrated with a synchronized, secure, multi-device experience delivery framework.

    Would like to get together and show you around sometime.

    Regards,
    Thomas

  22. bobbie says:

    Memolane service looks pretty good! It’s really like a diary, pretty useful to me to collect tweets and other web posts.

    Picture editor free download

  23. bobbie says:

    Memolane service looks pretty good! It’s really like a diary, pretty useful to me to collect tweets and other web posts I made.

    Picture editor free download

  24. roberto says:

    Every app is to become a
    platform. This is a great aim and all the  collaboratores  should  join their efforts together.

    Well and one more thing I’d love to say is that it’s just wonderful to hear the news about 
    Singly:) BTW in case you don’t know how to convert mp4 to avi, you can try it here;)