“We call it digital lifestyle aggregation and it's based upon a number of assumptions – first and foremost being 'provide compelling experiences to your end-users.' That said – here's what you can do to deliver these oft sought after compelling experiences….
1. Integration. The secret to making things easy to use is in providing an integrated environment where built-in constructs (such as IM, image gallery or friends network) provide all the functionality end-users expect. We call these 'commodity features' and satisfying end-user's expectations as to what software should be – is what it's all about. These features have to be taken for granted and assumed to be there – everywhere – all the time. Even this nascent AO Zaibatsu system provides built-in friends networks to learn and leverage off of. And they have to be as easy to use as saving off a file or turning up the volume.
In the future ALL software products and services will have built-in digital camera support, cell phone gateways, universal messaging, real-time presence management, personal publishing, social networking and oh – did we forget to say – web services? But most will just patch-quilt on these functional modules, never thinking through how an integarted approach can not only make it easy to use and viable, but also achieve an elegant design result, which then causes all sorts of OTHER things to happen!
By providing an integrated environment with lots of great things for people to do, it becomes instantly more accessible and viral. By pre-wiring all of these applications and services – so that they work seamlessly together – OH MY GOD – you just may yet end up with a series of compelling experiences – 'cause heaven forbid – maybe not ALL of our end-users are the same….
2. Aggregation. Do you realize that the digital downloading universe expects end-users to listen to ONLY the songs they download from one vendor on their jukeboxes? That it's impossible to mix and match music you've bought from multiple vendors? That's like only being able to play CDs you bought from Tower Records on your CD player! Apple also prevents you from loading music from more than one machine at a time – so you're out of luck if you have two or more machines.
That's the world we're in today.
RSS News aggregators are becoming understood (you can subscribe to me here at AO Zaibatsu for instance or at my other blog – @ blog.canter.com) so what happens when we can start to aggregate other things as well? Like our digital identity or other forms of expression besides blogs?…
Aggregation is a killer app – that no one owns. It's public domain. Everyone benefits from it. So is integration as well.
3. Customization. So now let's combine Integration and Aggregation with end-users intense desire to have their software do what THEY want it to do. To have the software adapt to their appropriate usage level (beginner, average or advanced), their sex, age, demogarphics – even their location….
This is all happening – but it's all happening as SEPARATE web servcies or web apps….
I'm sorry to tell you this guys – but that doesn't work. You need more than just a single feature to acheive the oft sought after 'compelling experience” we started this post with. To start to reap the benefits of digital lifestyle aggregation – you need to get smart about architecting systems that rely upon XML, open standards and web services.
So personalization and customization find their destiny intermixed with Integration and Aggregation. The only way to produce compelling enough experiences is by integrating a wide range of built-in constructs, combining that with aggregated web servcies and content and topping it all off with unprecedented levels of control and customization. In one product or service.” [AlwaysOn, via The Doc Searls Weblog]
A long excerpt, I know, but even though the author focuses on commercial applications, revenue streams, and open source software, it's worth reading through this in the context of libraries.
I've said before that aggregation is a killer app, one well-suited to libraries and the kind of information to which we provide access. External projects such as LibraryLookup bring home hard the need for our products to very quickly adapt to web services and XML back-ends. And now we're seeing another big push for integration in our industry – federated searching, OpenURL and SFX resolvers, and statewide union catalogs are good examples of this.
So what would aggregation, integration, and personalization mashed together in one app, designed from the ground up to work together, look like in the library world? Would *that* be our version of the killer app? [The Shifted Librarian]