MWS and Managing One’s Social Graph

It has been a while since touching on the topic of the Mobile Web Server (MWS); and for good reason – I really miss that platform. Ownership of your own data, and ability to manage your mobile from any web browser, and the ability to connect to other people with an open platform is the kind of power that we should have in this connected generation.

We don’t have it. Companies tend to make a heady profit in not just being the broker of social connections, but also the owners of the data within them. It could be different – it should be. Given the recent issues with Facebook and privacy settings and methodologies, it should be different.

I was sparked to write because of a comment over at an article on Life Blog. I’m posing the comment here because it deserves additional thought on my end, and could use opinion from yours:

Until February of this year, I had been using Nokia’s Mobile Web Server ( for doing just what you are talking about in terms of managing one’s own social graph. Because I was aware of, and not willing to compromise to, the terms of service for FB and several others services, I found it one part a challenge and another part very freeing to have my own platform – and then try and work with people – literally network with them – so that they could access my content streams on my terms.

Unfortunately, Nokia shut down the gateway for the Mobile Web Server service. And there was little noise made with the MWS because “Facebook could do it” and other similar comments.

I still feel that given our use of mobile and social technologies, that such a platform has a veritable approach, and should be explored by many. Yes, there’s the issue of “what happens to this server when my mobile’s battery dies,” but really, I don’t know that it should be a concern. The way the MWS was designed, for example, connecting my device to MS Exchange took more battery life than running the server. And the open platform that it was built on (Apache, Python, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript) meant that I could essentially have my own content management system (like a Blogger/Typepad/Wordpress and a Flickr, and a personal web-enabled Outlook) that I could intentionally share with others.

It was ahead of its time. And unfortunately, closed down before this brooha happened. I miss it (badly). Others will pine for it when they realize what is possible.

Killer iPad Apps

I should probably apologize for the content here being so heavily skewed towards the iPad. It’s now been a week with me owning one, and so the honeymoon phase of having this device should be just out over – which also means that I’m ready to put this device, and its competitors, through the ringer.

Like this idea of a killer application for the iPad. I get it. There’s some application, that when everyone uses it, will totally convince you that this device and platform are just unbelievable. For the iPod, it was iTunes. For Blackberries, it is email (and now BlackBerry Messenger). For the Palm Pilot (and its many iterations), it was the calendar and other PIM apps. Nearly every successful platform has one, and of course, the iPad is supposed to as well.

Well, it doesn’t and it does. iTunes is the key to most of Apple’s engine and that serves, just as it does for the iPod and iPhone devices, as that killer application. The key for the iPad is that it is just another content delivery device. It is a simple-to-use one. And that’s key for this kind of size and focus of device.

But, if there were a killer application, something that was perfect for this platform and this platform only, what would it be? Depends on the day of the week and who you ask really.

Since its introduction, the iPad’s killer apps have been games, books, iTunes, periodicals, anything that can be coded in HTML5 and use the browser to stream video, etc. In other words, there’s nothing killer. The platform has so many possible uses, that depending on your context, all of them can be deemed killer – in respect to similar devices doing the same thing – and perfect – for you.

And yet when I read Seth Goodin’s post about the iPad meeting application, I smiled (and pulled out my keyboard for this post. That application would be classified as perfect and killer because it will accomplish the point in changing behaviors, driving people to a specific hardware platform, and catering to thought leaders specifically in an enterprise context.

Anything to get people to have fewer meetings, and kill fewer hours of the day doing so has to be perfect. And this is good.

Except for the team meetings that it will take to design this application. Yea, the app will be needed to drive the project so that it doesn’t fall out of scope. Another kill, but to someone’s patience, before the killer dollars are made.