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App.net from what I understand wasn't so much trying to sell to content creators as it was trying to create a Social-Graph-As-A-Service thing. I thought the original pitch was essentially two fold:

build your network with App.net and users can basically just opt-in automagically importing their data from other App.net networks thereby reducing the friction and hopefully making it easier to over come the ghost-town problem.

build your network with App.net and tool makers (including you) automatically get a well defined/robust/tested API to write apps against to interact with your network.

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