Innovation In Assembly: Have you Reddit ?

So, what is innovation in assembly?

Essentially, in theory, it is pretty simple. Design your web 2.0 site application in a way that is easy to be shared then provide users access to relevant parts of your source code so that they can develop programs that interact with it called “middleware”. Doing this the right way however, as many companies have discovered the hard way is not always so easy. In fact many speculate that the downfall of MySpace was the hesitation in releasing any sort of decent API, and I tend to agree with them. Amber wrote a great blog about exactly that this week, here.

Innovation in Assembly is also the third web 2.0 pattern identified by Tim O’Reily. Part of an essential 8 core set that are necessary for success in the world of web 2.0.

Front page of the internet

Front page of the internet

Many of you will be avid users of the site I have chosen this week. Why? Well it is widely touted as the “front page of the internet” just type exactly that into a Google search and see how many times it comes up. So is this considerable acclaim deserved? I think so… why? Because REDDIT does everything right. Lets look at what it offers and how it adheres to Tim O’Reily’s best practices.

(1) Offer APIs to your service

There are many different APIs available for Reddit, for almost every conceivable permutation and combination involving sharing. In fact, Reddit itself IS open source.

“We know reddit’s success has less to do with our technology than it does with you, our community, and now we want to let our community improve our technology.”  Says Reddit.

This is proof that they know it is primarily about making yourself accessible en masse.

(2) Design for remixability

There are innumerable applications available that take advantage of Reddit’s easy to share design. Information is available in all selections, combinations and sizes. The smallest quantity of information available can easily be singled out, identified and accessed.

(3) Apply API best practices

Reddit is entirely open source. They make not only make access to their program (in the form of APIs) easily accessible and customisable but their ENTIRE program easy accessible and customisable and actively encourage it. What more is there to say ?

(4) Use existing standards

Redit is available to pretty much every conceivable existing standard. Again, it is open source, it is entirely at the developers discretion.

(5) Build your business model into you API

Reddit makes most of its money by advertising. Through going open source it opens up every possibility for access. More access means more chance of someone landing on an add, and that = $ for Reddit.

(6) Use Web 2.0 to support your platform

A huge amount of communication and interaction by Reddit users online, and massive amounts of user contribution makes Reddit what it is. Reddit supplies information by users to users who want information. I think its size is due partly to the fact it is so easy to adopt, and also the fact that it rewards users in terms of status for quality.

(7) Be your own platform customer

The Reddit written API is as good as it is because of research and testing Reddit did before it was released. Reddit’s semi wiki nature means that it can stay pretty simple and probably doesn’t have much cause to use it’s own API.

(8) Granular addressability of content

Both Reddit API and custom developed programs, by utilising the open source code ensure Reddit’s Granularity is fine and information findability and remixablility are present.

(9) Use your platform to build customer trust and loyalty

What better way to command customer trust and loyalty than put it completely in their own hands. Reddit works on a ranking system and it is the public who control the rankings. Reddit just provides the space and the excellent idea.

(10) Learn from how your customers remix

Reddit is known by most web 2.0 application/platform owners on the internet and is very widely shared. Reddit’s information and presentation is intentionally made available to be fully customisable at the whim of a developer.

So have you Reddit? Do you think this is a site that has it right?


Harnessing the Collective Intelligence: It just might save your life!

First of all – welcome back to the semester everyone I hope you had a good break. I studied enterprise 2.0 at the end of last year and you can see my previous blog posts by simply scrolling down. I am happy to be back to blogging in web 2.0, as it is an experience I find both enjoyable and empowering, so without further ado… let’s start the semester off on a slightly controversial note.

I am not going to sugar coat this, nor am I going to apologise for posting content that some of you may find confronting. Why? Simply because websites like “Erowid” could very well save your life. Save your life through harnessing collective intelligence.

The harsh reality is that almost half of you have tried illicit substances in one form or another. In fact a new study appearing in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that 42.5 percent of teens have used drugs by age 18. Everyone has different reasons for wanting to try illicit substances, and more often than not cannot go to their parents, and may not necessarily trust their close friends for advice. So what do they do?

Enter Erowid:


What is it you ask?

Erowid is a wiki where users  contribute genuine medical documentation, research case studies, effects, and user experiences of every imaginable drug (both legal & illegal) anti depressants, pharmaceuticals, you name it.

How does it fit this weeks pattern? Like this:

  • Explicit & Implicit user participation

When you are reading user experiences, whatever the drug / medication you will often read about dosage information, body weight, gender and general health and well being of the particular poster.  In addition to this information is often provided about surroundings, ie an abusive family relationship in the case of anti depressants. Or for illicit substances, how, when and where they were ingested and how this may have affected the experience in general.  So you when reading experiences you are able to not only consider the facts, the information that is undeniable, but also consider the surrounding elements. Are you likely to react to a certain substance in the same way as another person? Are you similar person to the poster with a similar personality? Do you really want to begin that course of anti depressants after readings X’s experience?

  • Erowid rewards the user first

Like most other websites that offer huge amounts of collaborative information there is the opportunity to donate but, you don’t have to. You are free to search, read and draw your own conclusions based on legitimate medical findings and user experiences. You do not have to participate, you need not even let anyone know you were doing such research.

  • A meaningful context for creation

Erowid claims to be for “educational” purposes only and in many ways I think that is the truth. You are unlikely to stumble across this website, rather you would have actively sought it out because you had already been thinking about ingesting one substance or another, legal or illegal. Erowid creates a community environment where people can come together and discuss whatever it is that is concerning them about any type of legal / illegal substance without fear of reprimand of any sort.

drug abuse

15 years of drug abuse captured in police mug shots – could the collective intelligence at Erowid help prevent this?

  • Set network effects by default

People visit Erowid because they are either seeking general information, seeking advice or seeking help, so it has become the phenomenon that it is as a side effect of serving self interests.  Often times when it comes to sites like Erowid people forget that they often spawn many support networks for those who have ventured down the wrong paths. Support networks that may otherwise be unattainable due to financial or geographical constraints.

Trust your users: The community has grown into one where people post because they believe in the cause. Hence time, effort, research and genuine heart felt posts resonating throughout the forum

Software that improves as people use it: Erowid is made up entirely of contributions by non profiting parties. The more contributions, they better and more thorough a resource it becomes.

Facilitate emergence: Erowid is now available for android which is further testament to it’s popularity / necessity.

  • People could post anything? What about moderation?

Erowid is closely monitored and often edited by people who have earned respect from others if information does not add up, does not make sense, or is just plain stupid behavior. It is moderated, and treated as an educational resource.

What do you think? Is a site like Erowid a good thing?


Enterprise 2.0 on the move: Cultivating Innovation

The Brisbane airport is a hive of web 2.0 potential. You have untold numbers of commuters armed to the teeth with the latest technology sitting there through all hours of the day and night with little to do, except wait, wait, and wait some more. A paradigm shift… What if there was a way that these commuters could be rewarded for having fun and being productive at the same time?

Enter enterprise 2.0

Evan Futterman explains that “Trends and development in airport design is big business” 

Consider this:

Who guides these trends that lead to developments?

How do we discover what people want to see introduced in airports?

Can you get direct and honest input from users of a service without spending a fortune?

How about providing commuters with a sense of ownership?

What about creating a space where the airport community can contribute as one entity, even if only for a very brief period of time?

What if there was an airport space that could only be accessed via the airport wi-fi, for people at the airport, in the airport, and those people only.











Enter “Our Airport”


“Our Airport” could be a blogging style environment where users are able to login, create profiles, comment on the posts of others, and write posts themselves. On return visits to the airport commuters could login to the same profile and build on their airport identities. Frequent travellers would love this, especially people who have to travel interestate weekly for work.

What about motivation to participate?

Status Points: Users would have a chance to earn status points by contributing to the airport environment in a constructive way, This would encourage users to blog quality only as a set number of status points are awarded per post (between 1 and 100) depending on level of insight and quality identified by airport moderators.

User Comfort: Free lunches, drinks, lollies and admission to massage chairs are given away every half hour, on the half hour to a logged in “Our Aiport” user. This is totally random, so even if users feel that they don’t have anything of quality to contribute; reading the posts of others and just immersing themselves in the environment is enough.

Quality Control: Users are given their “Our Airport” login and ID from their work place at the airport or the check in counter in their own names. While this would assist in deterring unsavoury behaviour “Our Aiport’ moderators have the final say as they approve or decline comments before they are made public. Not to do so is just too much of a risk in an airport environment (bomb scare anyone?)

You cannot expect people to participate with quality unless they are acknowledged for their time and effort. Status points should equate into real prizes, prizes that people want and not knock off rubbish that airlines want to get rid of. 100 status points should earn something decent, like a free domestic flight, and for a brilliant blog post 100  points are available in one hit, that is motivation.

Keeping it real – People are time poor.  

I think it’s time that big business realises that people sitting around bored in their own airport are the same people that market research companies recruit on their behalf, and charge them big bucks for. In 2012 people do not have time to treck across town to answer questions for 3 hours for $60 dollars and a drink voucher. Through utilising enterprise 2.0, organisations are able to gather quality feedback from people in a perfect and convenient position to offer it in an almost undirected raw fashion, pure honesty, with minimal bother. Yes, in the above instance the airport would have to pay moderators, but that expense compared with traditional market research? It’s minimal at most.

Enterprise 2.0 is about right place, right time, right audience and right motivation.


Do you think a scenario like the one above could cultivate quality ideas and innovation? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the “Our Airport” concept.