Friday, June 6, 2008

Web 2.0 Tools Stability Assessment Checklist?

Recent problems with Twitter, Muxtape and even a giant like Blogger highlight, I think, a central conundrum to successfully adopting any of the widely interesting and potentially useful web 2.0 technologies out there for free use: there is no guarantee that the mostly start-up companies (and sometimes even single individuals) creating and maintaining these often innovative tools are stable, long-lasting, or have the capacity to handle widespread growth in the use of their applications. Upgrading servers and maintaining increasingly complex code requires increasing expenditures of time, technical skills and money that many of these start-ups simply can't maintain in the long run. On our side, the risk isn't as great since most of these tools are free, but there can be a significant cost in time and effort in adapting them to our needs.

How then can we effectively gauge what tools have a better chance of weathering long-term growth spurts and monetary crunches? Does anyone know of a good assessment rubric/checklist/worksheet out there for this? What factors should be considered before adopting a 2.0 tool? Are there factors to weigh that are different, for example, from assessing a product or hardware package?

Things that come to my mind, but I'm sure I'm missing a ton of considerations (it's Friday afternoon, so my mind is mushy!):
  • weighing development/adoption time against record of stability (in other words, if it's a smaller-scale project, you might be able to chance using a tool that is less time/stablity-tested).
  • look at creator/company specifics and mission plan
  • look for reviews of tool
  • inquire about server specs and biz plan for growth
  • look at stability of other products, if any, of developers


Social Media Mojo said...

Well one thing to check that may affect long term uptime is the legal status of the site and the amount of financial support. There are two very important elements which aren't software or hardware related.
I am of course referring to muxtape which is relying on DMCA safe harbor protection, which hasn't entirely worked in the past. Muxtape could find itself on the receiving end of a lawsuit like projectplaylist and seeqpod are right now. Even surviving a lawsuit may affect your 'uptime' if new rules are imposed on your technology of choice.
For example imeem dealt with all its lawsuits and is now legal and while you can share mixes with almost any major artist there are some well known blocked artists like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin.

Of course, a web2.0 site might also be affected by patents which are another threat to uptime. But these may be a little harder to assess compared to sites built on copyright infringement.

Financial support is also vague, but in som cases it's clear when a web2.0 property is burning through cash with no results to show.

Dana said...

Thanks for the comments! Very useful. I guess the hard part is simply finding the time to follow up on these kinds of things - it takes time to investigate and free time is something none of us have very much of.

I wonder is there is a simple, non-techie checklist kind of thing for those thinking about investing some effort in using a tool for something? Afterall, you don't need to know much of anything about the technology these days to use blogs and wikis and social software platforms, etc.