(originally posted here on 20 Jan 2006)
Last Friday, Mike and I were chatting about how no compelling applications came out of Ning. We agreed that it was because of their silly committment to stealth mode during their gestation. You don’t publicly reveal your early development because it’s “so web 2.0″. You do so to get an early reality check on whether or not your project sucks.
Knowledge is good, but better than knowledge is a good epistemology that allows the rapid and timely acquisition of knowledge! You can teach a man to fish and he can feed his family, but if you teach him how to teach himself to fish…
Anyway, TechCrunch mentioned Ning today, listing four problems why the service isn’t taking off.
But the reality of Ning is that it’s lost whatever coolness it had, no one uses it and Ning is going to have a very hard time getting people’s attention when they finally do roll out better functionality. Here’s are the problems….
And in other Stealth Mode news, Ookles just closed its Angel round in Om Malik’s bathroom. Ookles? That’s for them to know, and us to buzz, buzz, buzz, about! Let’s get all excited and see what clues we can scrape up from google searches and reverse DNS lookups! Or not.
So the other problem with stealth mode, closely related to the first, is that operations that grow organically are stronger than ones designed in one afternoon around a table. This is the insight behind Agile software development, and ultimately is the lesson of the Vietnam War as well. A few days ago I noticed that blogger’s search stinks, and I’d like a tiny tag cloud in the sidebar of my blog. I could write a scraper but where would I host it? I realized there was a need for a new type of service, where I could upload some little script somewhere, tell the service to run it nightly, and point a sidebar of my blog to its output. I should put up a J2EE app server somewhere, maybe at toys.pokkari.tv. I could write a little administration app that allows uploading and deployment of ear files. And then, to accomodate those who wanted to write in other languages, I could drop in the Bean Scripting Framework and many language libraries. And some other page parsing and manipulation libraries to make work on web pages less like DOM and more like Chickenfoot. Eventually it would grow into something very easy to use, under the guidance of real users and real usage.
Update 15:13 ET: