Dalton's steely resolve through this entire process has been an inspiration to me; it takes a lot of guts to go out on a limb and ignore all the haters. Even if App.net as a platform doesn't take off I still consider this project a success.
This was the somewhat popular but incorrect comment I made previously: http://hackerne.ws/item?id=4278378
Much love. Props.
Let's hope this doesn't become a verb. Tweeting is bad enough, but "apping"?
In danger of asking a silly question, I do wonder about this bit though:
In the very near future I will ask an impartial 3rd party take a look at our data (while preserving all privacy of our backers) and publicly verify that the join.app.net was operated in an honest manner.
I might not be seeing the forest for the trees here, but how would anybody actually go about doing that? If you don't release identifying information (which I assume would include names, credit card numbers, and so on) how would anybody be able to verify?
I'm not, in the slightest, implying there was any wrongdoing, I have no reason to believe that App.net is inflating any numbers or isn't "operated in an honest manner". I'm just genuinely curious to know how it would be possible to independently vet that all transactions were legit (or whatever it is you're trying to prove).
Am I correct to assume that the best anybody could do would be to say that "the numbers looks right"? Or maybe something like "the amount of money transferred via Stripe to App.net is in the right ballpark"? If people can do better, how so? Again, genuine question.
What App.net desires is for a trusted third party to say, "Yep, they're legit." So first, you would select an auditor who has a good reputation financially, technically, and ethically. Presumably, you'd line up a couple of secondary sources to publicly reinforce the auditor's reputation and bless the auditor's methodology.
It's been literally decades since I took any accounting classes, but I think you would need to follow the entire chain of some transactions, and this would necessitate showing real investor/customer data at some point. If you can secure that investor's/customer's permission, then sharing the data becomes a non-issue. How you get that permission becomes the issue.
If your auditor's reputation is strong enough, their name alone may be sufficient to secure permission. But you can also take steps to create a "security narrative" designed to put the investor/customer at ease.
You'd need to give the auditor access to your data, while preventing the possibility that they could leak this data. So the auditor would work in your offices, on your machines.
You'd provide laptops so that you can disable all peripheral ports. You'd secure the laptops to the table. The machines would have no optical drives. Those machines would net boot, have wired LAN access but not WAN, and no wireless access at all. They would run the software the auditors required but nothing else.
You'd confiscate phones and cameras from the auditors before they entered your audit environment. You could go a little crazy and record video of the auditors at work, with cameras angled so that you can see what notes the auditors are taking but not what screen they're looking at while they're taking notes. You could go a lot crazy and prove that the auditors are not sitting in front of any windows, thereby exposing data to high powered lenses across the street.
You could sanitize the data your auditors see, so that the auditor initially sees "Backer N" or "Vendor Y" instead of an actual person or company name.
Armed with some variation of the above security narrative, when the auditor says "I'd like to talk to backer N or vendor Y," you can present that narrative to the backer or vendor to secure their permission for auditor access to the information. I wouldn't be surprised if the average backer gets impatient and grants permission well before you're done explaining the security narrative.
1. They can be trusted not to misuse the authorisation they will be given to Dalton's Stripe account. The Stripe API (https://stripe.com/docs/api) does indeed give access to identifying information.
2. We can trust them not to misrepresent the facts on behalf of their client (i.e., Dalton).
I've no idea what kind of institutions Dalton is thinking of, but reputable accountants should fit the bill.
Since the auditor was reputable and signed a contract to attest the $500k, the auditor would be careful to not divulge any of the sensitive, personally identifiable information.
When viewed in Windows, of course.
Seeing quite a few sites and blogs now getting a bit careless with CSS @font-face rules and seemingly not bothering to test their sites in Windows.
More on it here: http://blog.webink.com/why-fonts-suck-windows-hinting
I don't think we have to go whole hog and completely ignore designers' intent, but if usability is being compromised I think it makes sense to take advantage of the fact that we're doing the rendering on the client.
EDIT: I purchased it weeks ago, but you get the idea...
Why didn't they go with a third party like Kickstarter in the first place?
> Why aren't you using Kickstarter?
> We wish we could, we <3 Kickstarter. Unfortunately, the Kickstarter Terms Of Service explicitly prohibits raising money for this kind of service.
I can't comment any further, my password I signed up with doesn't seem to work, and the password reset feature also appears broken :) I will reserve judgement for now.
"I paid for a product, I can't login, and I can't fix things so I can login. But I'll meekly 'reserve judgment' rather than lambasting what should be a fairly important issue."
Why would he even suggest that? I wouldn't have expected such behavior.
I think that's a good summary: https://alpha.app.net/
Twitter and Facebook were fun when not everyone and their parents were on there. I'm hoping that the price tag keeps a lot of the people out who don't have anything of value to share. So far, from what I've seen on the alpha site, the conversations are way more interesting to me than most banter on Twitter. The higher limit of 256 characters helps too. I look forward to using App.net, whereas I find the Twitter experience increasingly frustrating.
But to directly answer your question, I think at this point the only truly honest answer is...
Social networks live and die by whether your friends are on them, though, and while I get the appeal of "keeping out the riff-raff", I'm having a really hard time swallowing the idea that you can reach critical mass (without which your product will fail) by charging for a product that people are used to getting for free.
If the team can reach critical mass, then awesome. But I think that it's going to be nearly impossible to sell to anyone but the subset of the early-adopter crowd who have a bone to pick with Facebook and Twitter, which is a very passionate, but very limited audience.
I also don't see it as a typical social network, but more like a publishing platform for short posts — a mix of a micro blog, link log and photo album. I'd rather compare App.net to Tumblr and Posterous than to Twitter. Also, if readers want to respond to posts, they can do so on their own blog or on Facebook or Twitter. Charging subscribers an annual fee might become the service's biggest strength. I think it guarantees that App.net will attract very little passive users, the ones who sign up will actually use it.
Many of whom were backers who were sufficiently curious to pay to get access to / see the product. The real kicker will come at renewal time, and how many of those customers remain.