Thursday, April 03, 2008

To Succeed: Atomize

In the height of tax season it seems appropriate to revisit a blog post I first wrote while at AOL in July last year. I have been thinking about Application Development, Wikis and the power of 80% solutions. However, before going there I want to go back to that July blog post which addressed Atomization. In a future post I will tie in this subject with Wikis and the Semantic Web. So now a flash back to July 2007
To Succeed - Atomize
This is not a taxation discussion - Instead, I have been thinking about the best way to get traction in adoption of new technologies, services or platforms. I keep coming back to a simple concept - simplicity. KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid! This led me to the concept of atomization. By atomization I mean the deconstruction of sites and services to create discrete services that can be easily combined with other elements.
So, when searching for the next big thing. The next massive run away hit. Don't think big. Think small. Atomize! Break big concepts down in to small, discrete services. Enable them with easily accessible in and outbound interfaces such as email, SMS, RSS or IM. When I look around at successful examples like twitter, ficlets or wiki platforms like Near-Time, I see this rule being followed repeatedly. Ficlets fits this mould because of its strict focus on 1,024 character stories but I would love to see Ficlets expanded to enable email posting of drafts. As it is, I love the way that Ficlets has leveraged other sites and features like OpenID and Flickr. I believe that because Ficlets has a such tight focus it makes it easy to take ficlets content and integrate it into other sites. What a tight focus does is make it possible for creative users to integrate with existing tools, processes and platforms with little or no programming. With these building blocks inventive developers can have free reign and do amazing things to enhance the services. Just look at the ecosystem that has built up around Twitter with sites like hashtags and Quotably - and not to forget foamee!
Given this approach can you think of existing sites, services or features that could be given the atomization workover? Share your ideas! Leave a comment below. You never know , the next big success could be something that at first glance seems small and insignificant!