In a near-perfect feedback loop, the audience for software developers is now becoming part of the process, a primary development tool able to feed back its wishes and bend the outcome of developers' efforts to better suit to its needs.
Two further indications of where the web is heading, if any were needed.
I observed in my last post how I had been impressed by the innovative ways in which blogs were being used to assist developers in getting out tutorials and help documentation to users of their applications. The benefit is chiefly of being able to respond to users’ questions in near-real time, and in terms the audience understands. Thus, in a near-perfect feedback loop, the audience becomes a primary development tool able to feed back its wishes and concerns and bend the outcome to better suit to their needs.
In other words, the will of the audience is becoming the application.
Of course, there is plenty of evidence of this in the participatory, self-policing nature of community interaction with Ebay. But here are a couple of great examples, the second of which should be of particular interest of readers here.
First off, however, espied by Erick Schonfeld on business2.blogs.com is a posting about Eventful, a community-powered events site which will use the web to aggregate demand for different kinds of events and is about to launch a new feature which lets fans request events from specific performers.
As Schonfeld explains, “someone in Omaha who really wants U2 to play there could start a campaign on Eventful, and if enough people join and demand that U2 plays there, the tour manager would probably be wise to add an Omaha date to the tour.” And of course, given a large enough audience, the system “would work for smaller, more obscure bands as well, who don't even know that they have any fans in Omaha”.
Next up, though, is Writely.com, a fine online word processor which enables authors to share the authoring of documents by collaborating over the web. Like so many other online developments, most notoriously Google, its logotype has been embellished with the tag “beta”, since its beginning. Now, however, as shown below, it is inviting its users to tell it whether it should remain in beta or is ready to shed the mantle.
I reckon this is an interesting example in ensuring delivery of customer expectations, which will no doubt find its way into the toolkits of others developing for the fast-emerging Web 2.0 platform.