(Notes from Mobile Mash-Up 2007. As usual, these are my notes, for what they’re worth.)

Moderator: Serena Glover, Tango Matthew Rothenberg, Flickr. Jessica Alter, Bebo.

Kevin Yen, YouTube.

SG: Where do you see communities going? Broader with less depth, lots of focused communities, what?

MR: People tell stories through photographs; we’re enabling that. JA: The purpose of most networks is to facilitate self-expression. People go to Flickr to interact, but also to express themselves: they say things, and have people to say them to.

KY: Groups within Flickr are forming around specific interests; we provide breadth, and let people create their own depth.

SG: How will open APIs change the nature of communities? Good, bad, change the value proposition?

KY: The cool opportunity is to develop one app that works across several platforms, eliminating versioning work (which “is a big drag on creativity”). Little apps may clutter the experience. JA: We’re surprised by what people turn out to like. Multiplatform development is good for developers. Downsides: something like Open Social probably won’t be as deep as the applications developed for Facebook; user experience can be diluted and made more confusing by a proliferation of apps; you’ve got to give up some control.

MR: Flickr was built on open APIs, and they’ve always wanted to make it as easy as possible to move data into and out of the service. Open APIs don’t excuse us from having to moderate and watch what these APIs do, or what people do on them: if application developers subvert the tacit social contract between Flickr and its users, then we’ve got to step in.

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JA: Needs to be a real focus on the user experience. Mobile “is an inherently different beast than the Web.” (What differentiates genuinely mobile networks from ones that have a mobile portal?) KY: Utility is obviously very important, and people will be willing to trade a measure of convenience or ease of use for functionality. MR: Interaction of mobility with social interaction sites: ease of accessing or creating content. “The next generation is creating services that augment your experience in the real world.” Most current services are about taking you away from your social context, but social context matters immensely for mobile phone use.

JA: Mobile phones matter a lot more than PCs in other parts of the world: you’ve gotta pay attention to that.

SG: Do you think existing communities will jump to mobile?

KY: “Flash communities” of people who are in the same event– like this conference. From taking pictures to live streaming media.
JA: Mobile social networks have a Web component; you’ve got to design for both. “Taking your real life and creating a mobile experience” around it will be really important.

SG: Web communities are global, and users play a big role shaping those communities and their norms. Will mobile communities be more local, or have other kinds of social norms than obtain in Web communities?

KY: In YouTube, we’re still learning: for a long time it was all in English, and we’re starting to localize in the UK, Japan, and elsewhere. Even still, a huge amount of the traffic goes to the U.S.
MR: Flickr has been a global site since the beginning, and we’re trying to figure out how to make it possible for users to group and wall themselves off when they really want to– or protect themselves from things they consider objectionable.

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