The SIME Experience Part 2

SIMEThe SIME Experience part 2 continues with some interesting company presentations and reflections. First up is,

Gowalla– CEO, Josh Williams

Where are we going –the story of Gowalla and the social future?

Having the idea of connecting places online, Josh proposed on the web to his distance relationship girlfriend. Influenced by a previous scrapbook and a  scavanger hunt game he and his girlfriend used to play, he wanted to connect  the places this moment occurred in in real-time. What he did was to share the locations of him and his girlfriend (in real life) through a link to friends and family, enabling all of them to take part of the special moment. The idea of Gowalla was born: sharing personal stories with friends from favorite places and, thus, taking personal life to a new level but keeping integrity.  Let’s rewind the tape even further though to look at contributing factors to Gowallas success. Through previous projects such as the iconfactory – selling icons to websites he had begun his entrepreneurial career as a designer/developer. When he noticed an interest in people starting to share icons, he became interested in why people were fond of sharing them? Case study showed just for socializing purposes. Together with Sean Parker a co-founder of Facebook he started the Causes Company in where he designed charity-games inspiring social awareness and also co-created in building a game on Facebook called Pac-Rat. Seeing how people spent their time sharing icons and social activities such as favorite places, and inspired by colleagues success with Farmville he decided to launch a locations-app on iPhone. Gowalla was launched and took on rapidly.  Josh says: “You now it was as simple as I wish I could capture the moment and share it with my friends”…..”and with the boom in iPhones and Andriods” …”You know a sort of a digital footprint on your phone”.

So how do we use these services to get people to integrate in the real world?

It’s a totem-idea, charms relating to different memories from all over the world cued by icons and peoples memories. It provides people with a modern digital type of passport stamps but takes it further to incl. landmarks, arenas etc. of peoples choices where they can share their memories, stories, shopping etc. Gowalla is really created for people to relate to their memories of different places, people like to share memories and socialize around these memories and activities, then we explore something that is bigger than ourselves together with other people.

The hype out on the web right now makes growth impossible to control, to succeed you need to stay with vision and benchmark competition closely!

What are the fads vs. the future of social platforms and communities?

Fads include:

Checking in – status update for places we go, overload is coming…how to drive value from the experience after you have checked in is key!

Game mechanics – point systems, badges – reward system and recognition will transform itself from today, e.g. twitter- how many followers do you have…new models coming to improve the incentives for individuals to add as many friends as possible. Companies need to learn how to drive traffic, SEO is no longer enough because the developers have outnumbered the platform identity for gaining competitive advantages this way!

Social validation – important, how can people get validation for their social shares online, re-tweets is an example, but we miss the deepening of this meaning…

Technique and platforms of geo-location – blah blah, this misses the point, key is to make it user friendly,  who cares if it’s built up around GPS or WiFi as long as it works…

Everything will be mobile – get off your ass and get moving, knowledge becomes mobile and this is shown to just increase. Memory is defeated by microships. And as devices are becoming more powerful all the time….whooya!

Passive applications are another important area, apps should not interrupt our daily living to the extent that we consciously need to make a choice of what function to use.

Communities are always going to grow  – people sharing their views on the same place, information sharing and gathering, network building, creating content as a social Wikipedia and layers e.g. what is the Gowalla community of Sweden, your village, town, favorite restaurant, hockey arena etc. opportunities, opportunities, opportunities…

Activism and cases – how can social media be used to better the world, Obama presidential campaign, Iran election on twitter, red-cross campaign, OLPC etc.

From Gowalla’s perspective of a double rainbow – don’t just see it, share it and experience it with other people….

/ Mikael

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