Thoughts about sharing my stickybits

Futzing with stickybits.com

What i heard
StickyBits. It will be big!

What I imagined it to be
Something that would augment physical products with information from people who’ve used that product. I would love to scan a book at a bookstore and get people’s opinions on the book, see who of my friends has read it, etc… all that fun stuff. I imagined it to be a true digital link to the physical world. Every product has a bar code. Just about every purchase represents a decision to be made. This sort of information could help with that decision.

It has every possibility of being that and much more. I am very excited to see what people end up doing with it in this world of digital experimentation. I applaud the effort and know that it will take time and a larger community to build value. But I also have reservations based on similar experiments i’ve witnessed in the past.

What I’ve found (with limited futzing)
Something that is a little clunky for prime time. The initial experience (combination of the iPhone app and the site) left me wanting a little bit more and, at the same time, a little bit less.

  1. A little bit more: I scanned a book and almost expected to see the book. as if I were looking it up in a store. That is a silly expectation for a service only launched recently. I am the first to scan this book. Fine. But then my only option was to say what the book was. I could upload the picture of the book, but it was treated as the first “bit” for that entry. What I would like to do is associate the barcode with a thing (the picture) as well as possibly a tag or category of thing (I totally would not mind selecting “book” or “blender” to allow for someone else to categorize. The input that they have is very small an may not encourage hacks like hash tags. The bar code has too much prominence and not enough context.
  2. A little bit less: The experience is not Twitter simple. There are multiple fields and even a captcha that are all barriers to just posting something. And there are two entities that are available to post – The thing as well as the attached bits. If I am the first to post a thing, give me some credit for that and maybe allow that to be enough of an event. The model is almost like FourSquare check-ins (create a place and add your $.02), but something about that experience seems more fluid.

Possible barriers to success

  1. It’s providing two very different services. A slightly structured “scan a product” scenario as well as the free and easy “Get your own code and do whatever” model. A high adoption rate will be necessary to sustain the second model because…
  2. It requires two things. With the second service one needs to download a bar code (thing one) and then have the service on a mobile device (thing two). This has been too much of a hurdle for many who’ve come before them, like the CueCat and even Razorfish’s Smartpox.
  3. It needs a large community. I hope that it gets the time to build a following large enough to provide value for those seeking all of the use cases they recommend and more. A site that allows me to attach a video to a birthday card is a different animal than the one that provides the service i imagined above.
  4. It’s not a game. Maybe it does not need to be a game, but peppering in those kinds of elements (badges and such) have certainly been a big help to Foursquare and others like it.

What’s it got going for it

  1. Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare. These services have giant communities that will try stuff. They have established online social graphs to tap into that did not exist when previous attempts have been made at tagging physical objects for sharing info.
  2. Slick design on the marketing site. Hopefully the actual application will catch up to the bar set by the cool typography and playful aesthetic of the .com site.

I am certainly going to keep using Stickybits and look forward to seeing it evolve. The two founders are taking a shot at something very worthwhile and very timely. Hopefully usefulness will soon follow.

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