Have you tried Jelly? I don’t mean the wobbly fruit flavoured stuff, but the new app from the founder of Twitter, Biz Stone.
Now, before we go any further, remember that no-one saw the point of twitter at the beginning either!
In simple terms, Jelly is a question & answer social network. Anyone can post a question, WITH AN IMAGE, and this can then be answered by any other network member. On the surface it looks similar to Quora, but while Quora is trying to create a database of ‘best answers to any question you can think of’, Jelly is more about the immediate, quick-fire, impermanent .. like twitter.
answering questions is … about giving participants a chance to flex their generosity muscles
One important note is that Biz Stone is actually playing up the altuism angle – answering questions is not about fixing the problem, but about giving participants a chance to flex their generosity muscles, encouraging behaviour aimed at helping others. In fact you can’t rate questions, you can only thank those that answer. Idealistic, but touching.
In terms of wine, it is potentially exciting because it is MUCH easier to take a photo of a label than it is to extract the relevant information to ask a question about a particular bottle.
Confused consumers can now post a simple image and get advice from lots of people, immediately, even at the point of purchase. This is new because Facebook is generally too slow and cumbersome for this, and twitter restricts you to only asking known networks of people. This is closer to ‘crowdsourcing’ of knowledge. However, we have a long way to go before this would work in practice.
Overall Jelly is more of a fun activity than a tool at this stage. It seems most people on there at this stage are trying to invent questions to ask, so it is not that useful. However, I can see how, once (and if) it gains some traction, the idea of having a large audience online ready to answer any question could be attractive.
Things I like:
- Serendipity of being able to answer random questions from strangers
- It is really mobile-first – a tool that is truly based on the needs and experiences of mobile communications
- The concept of linking an image from your phone or archives to a question, and being able to reply by including jottings over that image – and being able to access Google Images to be able to do this if necessary
- The “it is just a collective stream of consciousness” approach rather than an archive of ‘worthy’ questions and answers
However, there are some major issues at this stage:
- There is no way, at this stage, to apply any expertise you have to answering questions. It seems unfortunate that there is no way of linking questions more intelligently with those Jelly users who might be able to answer them. The randomness factor only accentuates the game / gamification aspect.
- The lack of any threading or response mechanism means that you could ask a question, get a partial, teasing response and have no way to resolve it. On the other hand it encourages the conversation to move on to twitter … but I can’t really believe that this is what the developers want to happen
- There is no way for specific communities to emerge that I can see. This is fine in times of low volumes of posts (like now), but what about when volume is high? It isn’t much fun dismissing 100 cards to find something you find interesting or can reasonably answer. I can see that there could be many different ways to use Jelly – for wine buying for example, but this would be very different from, say, getting design feedback on a logo. It ought to be possible to create some form of community around ways of using the app that would then encourage users to share more content and attract more users.
- I find the friendship / relationship details with the person asking or answer questions, an interesting idea. However, if you have lots of followers, and if you happen to follow certain key influencers (nodes in the ‘degrees of separation’) the audience suddenly becomes incredibly large and you always see the same faces. There really ought to be a way to toggle between just seeing first-degree links and a more open second-degree view.
Jelly is a good example of how new technologies could emerge that could be adapted to help consumers interact with wine.
Do you know of any other emerging apps or networks that might be interesting to watch?