Die aktuelle de:bug-Ausgabe beschäftigt sich ausführlich mit dem Buzz, den „Web 2.0“ erzeugt. Ich konnte mit einem Beitrag über Flock und einem Interview mit Robin Slomkowski, einem der Flock-Entwickler, meinen Teil dazu beitragen. Während das Interview für de:bug von Sascha Kösch übersetzt wurde, gibt es hier als Ergänzung den Wortlaut in kompletter Länge und im Original.
What’s you part in developing Flock? How did you get into the team?
Robin Slomkowski: I work primarily on build infrastructure and integration. I also pick up all the random loose ends and bugs show up at the deadlines. I got connected with flock because I was the founder Bart DeCrem and I had worked together at a previous company called Eazel, and he was looking for a generalist who could pick up the technology put things together and do whatever needed doing with a four person company.
Why yet another browser?
The browser has not evolved at the rate the Internet has. The metaphor „Browsing“ implys that you are just looking at things and you are not taking part in them. When you „Browse“ in a shop you don’t buy anything, when you „Browse“ a book you don’t write in it, in fact you don’t even read it seriously.
People need a better way of interacting with the Internet, and the primary tools that most people use is the „Browser.“ At some level the world doesn’t need another Browser with another set of bugs for content providers to worry about, which is part of why we are based on Firefox. If a website or web-application works with Firefox, then it will work with Flock.
What we are doing is adding to the ability to communicate on the Internet and make that easier and more fun. We are not touching how web pages get displayed. We are making it easier to get at the information you have (searchable favorites, full content history search, the shelf to store references on, Image/Flickr bar, rss view, instant rss aggregation) and giving you ways to communicate your ideas to others (blog tool, shared favorites). We are working on integrating the dynamic collection of information with putting it out. So you can just drag your photos from the topbar into your blog, or just grab a peice of text and use the shelf to reformat it as a quote. These features are to help you communicate better through letting you manager your information easier.
This emphasis on integrated communication is one of the big ideas of Web 2.0, and some of that is being done by firms exposing their APIs, and other bits are being done by applications like flock that are letting people connect their photos, browsing history, and blogs together.
Sure you can do all of this without Flock, but Flock makes it easier.
What’s the business behind Flock? Can you sell flock integration to flickr, del.ico.us etc.? Or is there any other way to make money with Flock?
We are still in discussions with investors and I cannot say too much. A couple of things, there are already non-evasive ways to generate revenue already in the flock browser. There are two other browser companies at the moment funded by non-invasive advertising in the browser.
People are spending less time with their TVs and more time on the Internet, as a browser you are a gateway to the content on the Internet which means that you collect viewers within browser. There is value in the default places that people go to see and look for things.
What’s the schedule for Flock? When will we see the first final?
More than 6 months away for the first final, but we are hoping to have a very usable Beta by the end of the year.
You are living in Berlin but working for a US company? Can you say something about cultural differences in software development? Do you think Flock would have been possible in Germany as well?
Living in Munich at the moment, there are still many things I miss about Berlin.
The biggest difference is the tolerance of risk and level of personal involvement. The Silicon Valley is a special place. The level of risk people are willing to take on employers and employees is pretty foreign to Germans. It is not just that there are VC firms that expect only 1 in 10 of their investments to make money, it is also at a much more personal level. You will go to a Start-Up knowing they only have enough money for six months, and some time between then and now they may change the direction of the company, your duties will change r[DIE VERWENDUNG DES URSPRUENGLICHEN NAMENS DES UNTERNEHMENS WURDE UNS UNTERSAGT]ly during those first six months if not the next year, you may lose your job when they decide they want to stretch the money to 9 months while the management tries to sign a deal. On the other-hand the company might go on for two years and never be able to give you time to go on vacation.
I think German developers could have produced Flock as a product; there are many talented, enthusiastic, and intelligent programmers in Germany. Flock as a company could never have been started in Germany. There are several problems with starting a small company doing something new in Germany. First there is not as much money available for projects that don’t have tested revenue models; second it is harder to get partnerships with larger firms because they are less accepting of trying to do flexible deals and dealing with amateur young companies; thirdly there are fewer people that seem to be willing to move, commute two hours, give up their stable job and vacation for a chance to do something new.
Thanks very much for your time and good luck with Flock!