2 Down, 50 Left (52 Weeks 52 Books)

I’ve been having a really looong week, so I’ve been putting off writing this review. The good thing is it’s been an extremely illuminating read. Although it’s published in 1998, 2 whole years (14 years in Internet-time) before the dot-com bubble finally burst, Unleashing the Killer App is full of ideas that interestingly enough seem to be reaching fruition today.

The authors outline some key principles of designing the killer app, of which I won’t go into that much detail. Some stood out in particular though, I could immediately identify online commerce sites today that’ve put them into good use, for example – Threadless.com which allows users to design their own tee-shirts, lets other users vote for the best designs every week, print in limited runs, while awarding credit to the winning designers.
Basically, Threadless is outsourcing to the customer, treating each customer as a marker segment of one, and creating communities of value. The cool idea here is the idea of people paying you to let them work for you, yet everybody gets what they want. Only because of the advent of digital commodity is this possible.

Another principle that I liked with me is give away as much information as you can. If that doesn’t scream open source, I don’t what does. And we’re now really seeing the effects of this, with Firefox breathing down IE’s throat, and the now de-rigueur practice of making API documentation available. Coolest thing is the author’s have put their money where their mouths are and put the entire book online.

The dot-com bubble might be over, but right now is also an exciting time for web technology, long-time goliaths (read: Microsoft) are faltering, open source is making a massive comeback, and AJAX is the newest breakthrough in creating rich, powerful interfaces. The book might be ancient by Internet standards, but the ideas are still very applicable by today’s standards. All in all, a great text to read if you’ve ever had a flash of inspiration for an online idea.

Unleashing the Killer App
(ISBN No: 1578512611) Check NLB Catalogue for item availability.

update: The coming month is going to be pretty bad, so I’m opting for some light reading till I can come up for some air. So my next book will be Road To Perdition. Didn’t catch the movie, so I’ll be experiencing the source material as it was meant to be.


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