October 10, 2014

New Apps are Driving New Experiences


 

The rise of two new apps reveals something about changing audience expectation for an experience. Diaspora and FireChat are both new editions of services we have been using for some time. Diaspora is a social network feed. FireChat is a messenger app.

But in their differences from their peers that came before, they are opening a new path. Both of them share one powerful feature: decentralization of the network, away from a directed experience, towards a user-driven interaction.

Diapora minimizes the landscape, removing the clutter of advertorial garbage from the social feed and decentralizing the experience. By eliminating ads and the collection of data from the social network, and spreading the network over a system of ‘pods’ not a central domain, it returns the excitement of sharing to a pristine state. Imagine a interconnected field of social blog feeds that spread like a P2P network. It is both a move backward and forward. At four years old, Diaspora is gaining steam as more people become frustrated with Facebook’s nefarious practices.

FireChat creates a mesh-network of user devices, phones mainly. Users connect device to device, using built in connectivity choices; an internet connection, bluetooth or wi-fi. It is location based, so it works independent of an internet connection. That is why it has been popular in the Hong Kong protests of this month. It decentralizes the idea of network, making it a connection without a center hub.

In both there is a less-hierarchical approach to communication and sharing. The audience is driving online experiences to a more open platform where organic interactions can occur. Consider it pathless, driverless, natural, or whatever you choose, but it is different from the centralized services that we have become accustomed to.

These actions are on the forefront of the norm. As they become more celebrated and adapted to different devices and interactions, the norms will shift in more services. Leaderless experiences driven by emotion, interest, information, and the physical space will start to dominate industries. Retail will be remade. Museums might relax structure and guidance. Architects and developers will create optional degrees of engagement that can be activated with user input.

Each of these attributes open up new frontiers for designers. And as design influences design, we can expect the adoption of this manner of interaction to be welcomed by more producers. As we are now on the cusp of the turn, we can simply watch and observe. FireChat and Diaspora will be changing and developing for a long time to come. But as we do so, we’re going to keep an eye on the decentralization of experience.

Read some more about Diaspora on The Daily Dot.