FOO: Crowdvine, iCalico, Pathable, a Study in Collusion

July 11th, 2007

I didn’t make it to FOO this year, but I did send software in my stead, and its nice to hear that folks liked it.

We slaved iCalico to Crowdvine to add a social networking layer, a network that was walked, mapped, and color coded by the Pathable folks.

Tony has a nice report back on it, as does Shelly from Pathable (6 weeks aka a couple of late nights). And Scott Berkun (who owes me a copy of “Art of Project Management”!) said super nice things.

Collusion Patterns

So how do you do that — stitch together 3 different sites to provide a unified experience? Visions of APIs, Internet scale SSO, and messaging layers spring to mind. Or more likely hash and slash patches, jury rigged shunts, juggled install directories.

We did the dumb easy thing, and I’m surprised more people don’t do it.

  1. Crowdvine.com sets a cookie collusion. This cookie contains the data we needed to display the logged in view of iCalico. (you’re nickname and optional your URL). In addition it contained a md5 hash of the concatted data, plus sekret known only to Tony and myself.

  2. If we find the cookie collusion, we load the described user from the database, or create it on the fly behind the scenes.

  3. There is no step 3.

Amazingly useful, trivially simple, ultimately flexible. Niche sites are great, but you need techniques for stitching them together before they can realize their potential as pieces of an ecosystem. I don’t necessarily expect to see this kind of integration become more common, but I think it would be great if it did. (and in the name of transparency disposable apps are huge enablers, disposable sites/apps is another pattern I’m puzzled we don’t see more of — its as if we more inclined to converse bits then landfill)

update: Whoops, it was pointed out there was a step 3, or rather a step 1.5: use CNAMEs to point to individual components on sub-domains.

2 responses to “FOO: Crowdvine, iCalico, Pathable, a Study in Collusion”

  1. Why don’t you think this kind of integration is more common? What exactly do you mean by “disposable apps”? And (guessing what I think you mean by “disposable apps”), do you think that this kind of integration has potential for non-disposable apps, given the social, political, and business barriers?

  2. kellan says:

    Good questions, but I think the lack largely comes down to a lack of imagination.

    Assuming you’ve built your app for the express intent of world domination via hordes of ensaled users, aka community members whom you’ve formed lifelong meaningful bonds, and our now the center of their universe, it can be hard to envision how light weight integration works.

    But its a broken model to be trying to build out more monolithic apps, the failure rate is high, the return is largely low, and the world doesn’t need more of them.

    So we aren’t seeing this integration becasue people are building the wrong kinds of apps, and even when they aren’t building the wrong types of apps, their imagination is all wrong.