Last week at the Facebook Home event I stood in line for over an hour with hopes of meeting Mark Zuckerberg. “His schedule is full and he doesn’t have time for you,” said one of his assistants. Another PR person chimed in, “Why don’t you go play with the HTC First?”
I was determined. In a couple weeks I could play with the First, but when would I ever have the chance to talk with Zuckerberg? So I waited patiently, as CEO after CEO came and sat on this small orange couch and chatted with the founder of the world’s largest social network.
As the crowd began to dissipate and the demo devices were being put away, I finally had my chance. Zuckerberg walked over to talk with some guys from HTC and he stood right next to me. This was my moment.
“Hi Mark, I’m a huge fan of Facebook,” I said nervously as I shook his hand. “I would like to request a feature, because I know you are one of the few people who could pull it off.”
He responded, “What’s that?”
“I would like you to build an app store for people,” I mumbled.
After a quick pause and a puzzled look, he asked me, “What do you mean?”
Everything after that was a blur. I knew I only had a few seconds with him before he was whisked away, so I attempted to explain my idea. Whatever I said probably didn’t make much sense, so I figured I might as well write down my thoughts and hope that someone reads them.
I have Google fatigue
The last several years of my life have been an amazing, wild ride, and I owe it all to Google. They created Android, I started this blog, and the rest is history. Google has done an awesome job at organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible, and I use Google products every single day.
Anytime I have an important decision to make, it normally begins with a Google search. Which restaurant should I take my wife to for our anniversary? Should I buy a washer and dryer from LG or Samsung? What daycare should I send my son to?
And for the most part, Google helps me make informed decisions. I enter a query and they return a list of useful links. Sometimes when I ask my phone certain questions, it even responds with a computer voice that has the exact information I’m looking for.
My two main problems that I have with Google are the overload of information (257 Yelp reviews, 1,273 Amazon reviews, etc.) and the questions where opinion plays a role in the answer I’m looking for. Instead of getting a fast, simple answer, I often spend way too much time researching my question with the hopes of finding the perfect answer.
Everyone is an expert at something
I keep telling myself there must be a better way to get trusted advice and find the answers to all my questions. For every inquiry that I imagine, there has to be a person out there who possesses the knowledge that I’m in need of.
An accomplished appliance repairman could share his experiences with working on LG and Samsung washing machines. A local restaurateur or foodie would be able to suggest the most romantic restaurant in Dallas that I could reserve a table at. A lifelong teacher could assist me in locating the best school for my child.
It’s great that Google is building this massive Knowledge Graph database to answer factual questions, but who is building a database of people that can answer convergent, divergent, and evaluative types of questions?
I see companies like LinkedIn, Quora, Klout, and others that are starting to organize people by their strengths, but none of them have produced the kind of on-demand service that I have envisioned.
Creating an ecosystem for knowledge workers
What I would like to see one day is an “App store for people.” Everyone possesses useful knowledge or what some might call useless knowledge, and I believe there are always other people who want to gain this knowledge. There needs to be a platform that connects these two groups.
I have knowledge that others would pay for, and there is a lot of knowledge that I seek from others that I would be willing to pay for. Those who consume the most would fund those who share the most. Of course, monetary payments would not always be required. Users could earn virtual credits when they help others, and then spend those credits when they seek the advice of another.
Anyone could attempt to create this kind of store for knowledge workers, but they would need massive scale for it to become a success. I have often thought who could build such an app, and I have concluded that it will be Google or Facebook. Both companies have billions of users, operate identity platforms that can foster trust, and possess the global resources to power such a system.
We might be a couple years away, but I can’t wait for the day when I pull out my phone, ask it a question, and I’m connected with a human being that has the response I was looking for.