Monday, September 1, 2008

Robot Monkeys: Reverse FriendFeed

Robot Monkeys :: Reverse FriendFeed

I wanted to leave a comment on the site, but didn't find any place for that, so I'm making up one more post for my own blog. ;)

This idea has got a rational seed and pretty much crosses with Atomkeep — people indeed have too many accounts and they need to manage them properly. Either you like it or not — the reality is that there are too many different sites with your personal information and profiles and, within time, this number is going to grow pretty fast. You've got to manage tons of repetitive and redundant data or you'll get down to the chaos.

Unfortunately, even if the problem exists, the idea like it was described, will never work. At least, not in the imperfect world like we're living in. Why is it so?
  1. First of all, something that does anything without confirmation from a user can be pretty scary. Personally, I would be afraid of such a thing. I don't know when the shit is happening to my data and this is not the way I want my life to be.
  2. Moving forward, something that needs to do anything on my behalf will need to know my user name and password. Even more: something will need to store this data somewhere. Keeping in mind #1 — and this becomes even more scary now.
  3. Getting back to #2 — something that have credentials to many different other sites is extremely attractive for hacker attacks. There is no such way like absolute security, you can't be 100% protected even when you aware and, basically, you don't want to be the one to get the responsibility if something is going out of control.
  4. Can you name many sites and networks that provide public API for changing someones information in it? I bet you can't. Trust my experience (Atomkeep ;) — you'll get "handcuffed" pretty soon with numerous limitations and policies. So now it's time for screenscrapping and this is the time when it fcuks up completely. Just a simple captcha will rip off any site transaction with no human interaction involved.
  5. What will make your site sticky, or, "how will you make money"? I don't think that you can make a fortune on paid membership that can't be more expensive then a few bucks — otherwise it doesn't worth it for the end user. But there is no way to get rich out of advertisement as well — nobody needs to go to your website, because your site can do everything automatically (just imagine that ;).
  6. Every single site wants to be the center of the world. Nobody will ever give up on this right, unless, it's only temporary and necessary to attract visitors at the beginning and get of the ground. At some point of time every single popular Web site will want to own the information, but not lease or rent it from other Web site. So, no central repository is possible ever. It's utopia, you know.
It's just the basic thoughts. I don't pretend them to be the only ones that are right and I'd be more then happy to enter the discussion. However, I've invested a significant part of my life into this problem, and I pretty much know what I'm talking about.

But let me also go all over these issues once again and tell you a little bit more about how Atomkeep works with them:
  1. We do not do anything without user interaction and explicit confirmation. Every single step that requires access to personal information or third-party site happens only after the user confirmed it.
  2. Atomkeep's policy is strict about storing usernames and password. We link accounts from other sites to the Atomkeep, but we never ever store passwords. At all. From the other side, keeping passwords was one of the major requests from many of our users, though. We're about to release a tool that will simplify the process of passwords management, but we're not storing any single bit out of someone's password and we're not going to do this in the nearest future.
  3. We can be attacked, nobody is perfect, but intruder can't get much out of our database. We just don't keep it.
  4. Every user is involved in every transaction. If some site will decide to introduce captchas for data updates, it will be passed directly to the user then. We're not playing dirty.
  5. Making site sticky could be an issue and nobody knows the only one right answer for it. Atomkeep is a great tool to manage your personal information, and you have to come to our site and to use it every time you need it. From the other side, this doesn't happen too often, so we will be running pretty low on advertisement profits. We're about to introduce the paid membership that is expected to be pretty profitable according to our polls and market reviews. But we're also working hard on introducing more tools and services, that will make Atomkeep something that you might visit few times a day, every single one.
  6. That's the exact problem that we're solving right now. Atomkeep is not the center of the world, but it's something that allows any single site to own the information directly.
I hope it helps.

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