It's now true: Biz Stone's Jelly has finally launched, and it promises to change "how we find answers because it uses pictures and people in our social networks. It turns out that getting answers from people is very different from retrieving information with algorithms. Also, it has the added benefit of being fun."
This simple yet technologically crazy statement raises a few interesting questions for social media users.
"People are good," but people are strange when you're a stranger
The whole principle of Jelly is summarized in a short letter written by Biz Stone himself, few months ago:
"People are basically good—when provided a tool that helps them do good in the world, they prove it."
The myth is that thanks to a genuine common sense and generosity, people are going to progressively add value to the platform: we can imagine that Jelly's algorithms are going to gather and analyze our millions of answers, to create patterns which will improve the users' journey into the future. That is theorically very interesting: because of our human nature, we're going to find unexpected and new ways to solve problems. As people add their contact details and minds to the network, the network is then going to become more and more relevant...
Again, this is a very ideological principle; think about Twitter, most of the strategies are not THAT virtuous. You experience hate, the filter bubble... What was initially presented as a fantastic driver for democracy is as limited as a lot of other social networks. There are rules to restrain or promote users, and there are now rules to generate profit. As we're now more and more used to apps everywhere, that we've already contributed - for free - to so many platforms, is Jelly really going to take off without a little help?
As time and reputation are our modern currencies, will we give our free time and personal networks to an app?
We'll see, but whatever happens, it's going to be very interesting for any start-up that is trying to create critical masses of users. As Jelly - smartly - says: "No matter how sophisticated our algorithms become, they are still no match for the experience, inventiveness, and creativity of the human mind." In other words: they're free (aka they have enough cashflow) to test, to try and fail, and then try again.
Power of suggestion + power of recommendation = massive relevancy in real life
There's been a growing interest in the last couple of years to mash up the power of suggestions (initially Google) and the power of recommendation (initially Amazon or social networks in general). What Jelly brings with its snapshot / share / ask your problem to your circles / evaluate best answers is that this sought after balance can suddenly be achieved in real life, where users have a real problem. Going on a search engine through a smartphone takes a lot of times, browsing is boring. And you can't download thousands of apps for your billions of needs.
It's going to be super interesting to watch if people accept a messy-regulated interface to get what they need in a single place.