After the initial anger at the news of Google Reader’s closing came the realisation that this could actually herald a new era for RSS based news consumption.
Feedly have advised they are developing “Project Normandy” a clone of the Reader API and will switch to it automatically and other services such as Digg have announced plans to build their own alternative.
As soon as the new broke developers started discussing how they could replace, or even improve upon, the Reader based ecosystem and there is one obvious place where this might bear fruit.
Google Reader’s demise is a perfect opportunity for App.net to earn its stripes.
From the outside, App.net has become little more than a developer friendly Twitter clone where third-party apps are free to innovate but the intent was for much more – the possibilities are enormous.
What is App.net?
App.net is an ad-free, subscription-based social feed and API. App.net aims to be the backbone of the social web through infrastructure that developers can use to build applications and that members can use for meaningful interactions.
That what the about section says and Dalton Caldwell emphasised the need for a “financially sustainable realtime feed API & service” when making his initial statement of intent.
As far back as 2008 there was talk about the folly in Twitter effectively giving away its business for free so something had to change. App.net was born from frustration over Twitter’s ongoing efforts to exert greater control over its own ecosystem whilst also appearing to make choices that favoured advertisers over users.
This might have been the genesis of App.net but the vision was far wider reaching and is summed up very simply in Caldwell’s proposal:
“Realtime feed API”
A feed doesn’t just have to be a stream of status updates. In fact, the App.net API will have been wasted if it achieves little more than being a Twitter clone.
If App.net wants to fulfil its potential and actually become a social backbone rather than “just another social network” it needs to take on projects such as this and solve real problems.