Those of you that have been following this blog, and its predecessor ikissnoise for a while, will know that I have been a big fan of LinkedIn as a social network for business people. They do seem to be lagging behind the rest of the social networking crowd in terms of features. A recent announcement that they will be releasing an API within the next 9 months has been met with some criticism that it is too little too late.

So what other strategies are open to someone who has seemingly missed the API bus? Jeremiah Owyang recently posted some interesting thoughts on his blog.

One key feature I see that LinkedIn from benefiting is to become the online source of the resume, not just the networks that are connected to the jobs. Help users to answer; “what skills have I learned, who else has them, where can I find others with these skills”. There’s an opportunity to expand the tool as the online resume.

If LinkedIn is to become the premiere social networking tool for businesses (as stated in this article) then they need to consider joining all the communities that existing in the context of business. If I were working at LinkedIn, I would be pushing an API to Facebook quickly and also universal login that web managers could integrate into their site. This identity systems could feed into recruiting systems, monster.com and even the ‘career’ pages on corporate websites –let me fill out my core information (or different versions of it) once and submit to many. It’s an API really, and would actually be a competitor to some identity management systems, almost like OpenID.

I believe that if LinkedIn doesn’t open an API sooner than 9 months, they may be falling back further than they think. Although the hResume move was interesting strategically as hResume has not been widely adopted yet.

Yesterday eBay made a series of announcements regarding new APIs and developer tools, calling for the company to rebuild the technical guts of its eBay.com site as a series of modular services, rather than a single, unified application. Today, David Berlind chipped in with an interesting analysis of web based APIs from Google, Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft, AOL and eBay becoming the new platform providers in the way that in the desktop era it was the operating systems of Windows, Mac and Unix that provided the primary platforms for applications.

In a sense what he is saying is that if we compare the API providers to Windows, or Mac, then the next step in application development is the user interfaces that are being built on top of those APIs. Microsoftware.

the Holy Grail for companies like Salesforce, eBay, Amazon, Yahoo, Google, et alia: to be in the infrastructure business but to let developers be the ones that drive adoption through innovation. Sure, if you’re one of those or other API providers, it helps to provide prototypes or something that’s minimally functional to get new users started. But when I look at where Google is going with Google Apps (of which Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets are only a part), my sense is that there are innovators out there that will come along and build user interfaces on top of Google’s APIs that are far more compelling than Google’s native interfaces.

So where does that leave the nonprofit looking to leverage current trends and forthcoming trends? For a second stop thinking of the organisation as single unfied organisation based on a single platform. Start thinking of it as a technological enabler for a cause. The tools to enable that cause are developed and then the constituents are given these tools to develop their own version of the tools on top of them. In the way that Excel allows you to develop your own spreadsheets, rather than in the way that eBay releases a new API. If your constituents are savvy enough, you can always give them an API as well.

btw if you read through to the end of David Berlind’s article one can not help but think that he is arguing that the business to be in is the business of creating a better UI. I think Joel may agree.

Importability

October 12, 2006

Importability could have been the seventh law of the new software. The ability to import data from your competitors systems easily, in other, if you’re going to encourage users to move from a competitors system to yours, there must be an easy way for them to port their data across easily.

WordPress supports the following formats:

  • Old Blogger – Import posts, comments, and users from an Old Blogger blog
  • Blogware – Import posts from Blogware
  • DotClear – Import categories, users, posts, comments, and links from a DotClear blog
  • GreyMatter – Import users, posts, and comments from a Greymatter blog
  • LiveJournal – Import posts from a LiveJournal XML export file
  • Movable Type and TypePad – Import posts and comments from a Movable Type or Typepad blog
  • Textpattern – Import categories, users, posts, comments, and links from a Textpattern blog
  • RSS – Import posts from an RSS feed

RSS is the most interesting one here because there are a lot of applications out there that output rss, it would be the prefect medium to e.g. pull out a whole lot of HR data and once you have reconfigured a wordpress front-end you can easily have an easy HR front-end.