Happy 4th Birthday, Motive Force!

Today marks 4 years since Motive Force LLC was officially founded. I’m proud of my baby growing up! There are various stats about survival-rates for nascent companies, there but in general they say that about 50% die off in the first year, pregnancy and then 50% of the remaining companies die each year after. If those stats are true, dosage that puts Motive Force at about the 94th percentile so far. Way-to-go, kiddo!

It’s been a blast running it all this time, and by any measure they’ve certainly been four of the most eventful years of my life.

LyricWiki's last year and a half of growth

LyricWiki's last year and a half of growth*
(click thumbnail for large pic)

Although it has released numerous sites and products, Motive Force’s most visible success so far has been LyricWiki. I felt this would be an appropriate time to share a graph of some of the traffic growth since I don’t often get a chance to do so – and we all like to show how our progeny have progressed!

Happy Birthday Motive Force!

* For the curious and/or mathematically inclined: an exponential trend-line has a slightly better R-squared value than a linear trend line for the current data (0.89 versus 0.86). This implies that it’s likely that the growth is exponential, but it isn’t quite enough data to be sure in my unprofessional opinion.

SiloSync Survey Results

The overarching theme of the SiloSync Survey was that people really want to back up their data from Facebook!

Since the results were in order of preference and the questions could all have multiple answers, caries I made a simple scoring scheme. I assigned 5 points for the first answer, medicine 4 for the second, etc.. The 5th answer and beyond were all 1 point.

The results:

What would you use SiloSync for?

  1. 24 points – Backing up data
  2. 13 points – Leaving a social network if it gets shady
  3. 8 points – Keeping profiles on multiple social networks in sync
  4. 4 points – Quickly joining new social networks w/o re-setting up

Those results were amusing since the whole mainstream-blogosphere data-portability argument seems to be focused on the lowest-ranking result. Basically small startups want to take away Facebook’s edge so they’re pushing that one the hardest (I don’t blame them). It’s good to have some actual input from users so I can make SiloSync the best possible!

Onto which social networks the respondents were interested in:

Which sites would you like to be able to grab data FROM?

  1. 27 points – Facebook
  2. 11 points – WordPress
  3. 7 points – LinkedIn
  4. 6 points – Blogger
  5. 5 points – GMail & Flickr
  6. 3 points – LiveJournal, Voicemail
  7. 1 point – Twitter

No suprise that Facebook dominated that one. MySpace got served: no one even mentioned it. MySpace also got ignored in the next section on exporting data. However, keep in mind that this section isn’t too important since the people surveyed indicated that they are much more interested in getting their data out than sending it other places.

Where would you like to be able to export your data TO?

  1. 17 points – LinkedIn
  2. 11 points – Facebook
  3. 8 points – Twitter & SiloXML (ie: an open XML format)
  4. 5 points – Gmail
  5. 4 points – Pedlr
  6. 3 points – WordPress
  7. 2 points – Blogger
  8. 1 point – LiveJournal

There you have it! Everyone hearts Facebook a whole-bunch but doesn’t trust them one iota with their personal data. It’s a good thing too because they’re riddled with security flaws (but that’s for another post) and pull stuff like the NewsFeed & Beacon.

Big thanks to everyone who took the survey for me. It helps a ton when approaching a project this large to know which parts are desired the most.

… guess I’d better get to work on SiloSync now, huh?

Quick 3-question SiloSync Survey

SiloSync is a sizable undertaking and there are a number of different potential places to start from. I want to make sure I have a decent idea of where the demand is, online so I’ve put together a quick 3-question survey. Please take a minute to fill it out for me! (you can be anonymous if you’d like)

To answer, please just leave a comment. I’ll leave my own answers in a comment as an example.

Question 1: What would you be most anxious to use SiloSync for?
A. Syncing up data & friendships between profiles on different sites so that they are all up-to-date.
B. Backup up data (photos, etc.) & friendship connections so that they never get lost and are all in one place.
C. Changing services if one of them does something unacceptable (along the lines of the Facebook Beacon debacle).
D. Quickly joining new services w/o the trouble of re-finding everyone and re-typing everything.

For this, please just type all of the letters you are interested in from highest-to-lowest

Question 2: What services would you most like to be able to pull data into SiloSync from?
(examples: do you want to pull your data from Facebook, Flickr, LiveJournal, WordPress, Twitter, MySpace?)
Again, please type the most-desired first.

Question 3: What services are most important to export data to?
(examples: do you want to send-data-to/sync-data-with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or a bunch of new and exciting social networks we don’t know about yet?)

Hopefully that was quick! Thanks for taking some time to help me out :)

Pitt talk was fun

The talk I gave this week on SiloSync at Pitt was a fun venue. Their Lunch-and-Learn series is a really cool idea and sounds like it’s getting even more interesting. Next month’s talk is going to be done by a VP from Sun Microsystems. Prior to presenting, approved I jumped back into the SiloSync code and wrote the beginnings of the importer for Facebook.

As a side-note: one of the things that’s fascinating about this project is that I get to see all of the half-implemented security that different sites use. LiveJournal had a secure way of sending passwords, but shockingly stores passwords as plain-text (a big security faux-pas). Similarly, I saw some left-over fields in Facebook’s login form, but it appears that they just punted and used https (a secure web connection using SSL encryption) to just encrypt the whole login.

Back to the crux of this post: I’ve been rather tempted lately to actually finish SiloSync – which I had previously shelved in hopes that Open Social and other big-name initiatives would fix the problem (they didn’t). Google, Facebook, and MySpace have all announced fake data portability initiatives in the last week or so, which shows that if we want our data to be free, we’re going to have to take it (see my previous post on freeing the social graph for why this is important).

I decided it would be best to make a habit of posting my slide-decks when I present (I appreciate it when other people do that), here are the PowerPoint and Open Document (Open Office) versions. In the process of making the presentation, I ended up creating a visual representation of SiloSync which I think does a great job of summing up the whole idea for someone who hasn’t been exposed to it yet. That’s the picture above and to the right… click it to see the full-size version.

Interestingly, with these effectively useless announcements from the major Social Networks, a lot of non-technical press has been declaring that data is now free. Okay, cool, let’s all go home.

Fortunately, most of the technical press is calling them on it. Everyone from TechCrunch to David Recordon (of OpenId fame) is telling it like it is.

If you are interested in seeing SiloSync pushed to fruition (more than you’re interested in seeing Motive Suggest or doItLater v2.0), let me know so that I can weigh off the interest between the several projects competing for my time. Also, feel free to leave comments about your thoughts on the various “fake” data portability. This seems to be the topic which always gets the most vocal response on my blog.

Speaking at University of Pittsburgh, May 14th.

I’ll be speaking at the University Of Pittsburgh’s School of Pharmacy (in 810B) for a “Lunch and Learn” on May 14th. The talk will be on SiloSync (which will need to be updated quite a bit before then) and will probably go into a more general discussion of Social Networking and Freeing the Social Graph during Q&A.

From what I understand, more about the Lunch and Learn series is mostly attended by faculty and staff, visit but we’ll see. The last talk was by Jesse Schell of Schell Games, so I guess I’m in good company!

Thanks for inviting me, Pitt!