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Old 08-10-11, 01:36 PM   #1
larryfeltonj
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suggestions for facebook app

This is a cross-post, as I also posted it to the blogger's forum.

I'm interested in writing a social media app on facebook, and I'm fishing for ideas which might benefit the cycling community. I have a couple of reasons for wanting to do this.

First, I'm a freelance programmer, and many of the jobs up for bid in the milieu in which I work are to develop or debug apps for the facebook api. Hence I'm interested in doing a serious app to familiarize myself with their application programmer interface (API).

Secondly, although I have significant problems with the creepy attitude facebook has regarding privacy, they are the 900 pound gorilla in the social media world, and as a programmer, I'm interested in experiencing the considerations which go into developing an app in that world.

I'm also a long-time cyclist (commuter and club ride roadie, and at 60 years old my "second childhood" has manifested itself in me acquiring and riding a fixed gear bike

I'd like to know what sort of app might be interesting to cyclists. I thought about some sort of mileage log, but my guess is that it's been done to death. On the other hand even something that simple might be good if no one's done it better on facebook, and if a sufficiently social angle could attract cyclists who aren't plugged in to the more formally organized cycling community. I think about the way Zynga pulled millions of non-gamers into Mafia Wars (which I consider a sub-standard role playing game of the "click and wait" variety).

The best sort of app would include some sort of individualized tracking, and a strong community social component.

Any ideas?
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Old 08-10-11, 02:35 PM   #2
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Mileage log doesn't seem very social to me... ;-)

I would suggest something more useful for groups(as opposed to individuals)... Maybe a means to automate road/path condition reports. Shared routes/cue sheets. Perhaps include the ability to report things of interest to cyclists... Road closures. construction areas, signals that don't detect bicycles, police surveillance areas, etc...
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Old 08-10-11, 03:03 PM   #3
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A ride log that ranks your yearly mileage against others in a given group might be fun. bikejournal.com has such a display ranking active members.
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Old 08-10-11, 04:41 PM   #4
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Is there an app for sorting apps yet?
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Old 08-11-11, 09:45 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by myrridin View Post
Mileage log doesn't seem very social to me... ;-)

I would suggest something more useful for groups(as opposed to individuals)... Maybe a means to automate road/path condition reports. Shared routes/cue sheets. Perhaps include the ability to report things of interest to cyclists... Road closures. construction areas, signals that don't detect bicycles, police surveillance areas, etc...
This could be good. Maybe have a set of regional sections, and a general section. The trick would be to figure out how to play to the strength of an application versus just using facebook's default interface.

The unresponsive traffic signal thing is particularly interesting to me. Off the top, a way to do it might be to pick five large metro areas, and divide them up into public works jurisdictions. Have a couple of people designated with administrative privileges for each jurisdiction. Anyone can enter a report of an unresponsive light into the app, but only one of the admins can generate a report (maybe in PDF), and the admins can remove any reports they deem to be bogus (spam or graffiti). When the number of reports reaches the number they think the public works or traffic bureau in the jurisdiction will realistically handle (I avoid turning in more than ten at once in the City of Atlanta) the admins are alerted via email, and can use the generated PDF in a way they deem appropriate to their area.

This could also apply to curb-parallel drainage grates, bicycle-unfriendly speed humps, roads in which the right lane are filled with trash and debris, etc. In Atlanta I've found that if you turn in a report they'll eventually get around to fixing it (sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but it eventually seems to get fixed). This could be a good tool.

The road condition thing could be good, too, but it would require some though as to how to focus it.
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Old 08-11-11, 09:48 AM   #6
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A ride log that ranks your yearly mileage against others in a given group might be fun. bikejournal.com has such a display ranking active members.
No matter what the app looks like ultimately I'll probably add a mileage log and bragging rights sections, since it would be straightforward to program. Sometimes the path of least resistance is good, since programmers are notoriously lazy :-)
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Old 08-11-11, 09:57 AM   #7
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When it comes down to it, I really don't care to share this kind of stuff with people on Facebook and I wind up "unfriending" a LOT of people that constantly put this crap up. I have blocked so many of the stupid games on Facebook it isn't funny. If I see one more person that found a goat in Farmville or Frontierville, I think I'll scream.
BUT something that is REAL that someone is doing I tend not to dislike that as much. But I do get tired of seeing "I ran 3.5 miles with my Nike(whatever it is)".

Sorry. But feedback is feedback.
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Old 08-11-11, 10:04 AM   #8
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Is there an app for sorting apps yet?
For someone like me who is enthusiastically taking on a facebook app project, I find facebook's interface to be atrocious. The lack of documentation for end users, the buginess in random parts of the interface (the "hit the space bar a few times before posting a link in a comment in a group" workaround is particularly hilarious), and either the lack of ability for an end user to arrange screen elements, or the dearth of good documentation on how to do it all annoy me. Plus I just don't trust Facebook to not violate users' privacy.

And worst of all, every six months like clockwork they introduce some new attempt to undermine the privacy of users. It's the corporate philosophy, and they state it explicitly and often.

That being said, they are the clear winners in the social media world. In that respect they're like the freakin' phone company. They've pulled in millions of people, many of whom found email challenging, and have built an amazingly rich and complex network (I'm 60 years old, and I re-established, via Facebook, contact with a 65 year old cousin who my whole family had assumed dead for forty years).
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Old 08-11-11, 10:13 AM   #9
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When it comes down to it, I really don't care to share this kind of stuff with people on Facebook and I wind up "unfriending" a LOT of people that constantly put this crap up. I have blocked so many of the stupid games on Facebook it isn't funny. If I see one more person that found a goat in Farmville or Frontierville, I think I'll scream.
BUT something that is REAL that someone is doing I tend not to dislike that as much. But I do get tired of seeing "I ran 3.5 miles with my Nike(whatever it is)".

Sorry. But feedback is feedback.
And good feedback is was. One of my goals is to make the app a word-of-mouth sort of thing. The whole Mafia Wars/ Farmville thing took advantage of the naiveté of a large section of Facebook users to effectively spam their friends ("friends" in the facebook sense of the word). When I was new to facebook I inadvertently spammed about 900 people by clicking on an app. The fact remains that facebook (as I stated earlier) is the 900 pound gorilla of social media. When Diaspora (the privacy-secure and aware social media) was proposed I sent them a substantial donation. Thus far I still haven't seen a really workable beta version. If they take off I'll port my app to Diaspora. For now, Facebook is where everyone is.
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