2.0 apps that really blow the cobwebs away

Here’s a couple of remarkable businesses I’m really enjoying at the moment, one you’ll have heard of and one you probably won’t.


Tumblr is the mother and father of web 2.0 blogging sites: it’s so stripped down there’s hardly anything there. Can you tag entries? No. Can you run a busy sidebar? No. Can you accept comments? No way. But they’re on to something. I’m always asked to recommend blogging tools and I’ve always avoided it before because none of them is actually very friendly is it? Movable Type, Blogger, WordPress – they’re all turning into the blogging equivalent of Microsoft Office – sprawling multi-megabyte downloads with a feature count in the hundreds or thousands.

I feel totally comfortable telling people to sign up for Tumblr, though. School teachers, artist friends, small businesses, anyone who didn’t get their software engineering badge in the Scouts, really. It’s a work of art and I find I really can’t resent the absence of features, even ones I used to love (I use it with Russell over at Speechification, by the way).


Gleamd is… well… what is it? I don’t really know, It’s been called ‘Digg for people’. It’s a kind of personality marketplace. You add a person you like and then other users vote for them. Interesting or attractive or otherwise valuable people rise to the top. There are charts. The thing is, the concept isn’t really the thing with Gleamd. What’s interesting is how it’s all coming together.

The company’s founder, chief architect, designer and marketing director (you get the picture) is a design student from Savannah, Georgia called Matt McInerney. This guy is a phenomenon. If I could buy shares in him I would. I suspect he’s going to be a very important man. I can tell you all this not because Matt’s had great coverage in the business pages or because Gleamd is all over the investor grapevine but because I’ve been watching him put his business together from scratch on Twitter.

So I’ve got a really rather unusual and very detailed picture of the process – from his initial tentative queries about a business concept and then a name to his first excited posts about working code to his first beta invitations and his subsequent, breathless updates on user numbers (approaching a thousand, since you ask). Gleamd is going to be a big hit because its founder is building it fast using 2.0 tools in the full glare of the Twittersphere (Twitterverse?).

Gleamd is what you’d call a native
web 2.0 app (and Matt a native web 2.0 person, I guess): invented, designed, built, tested and (no doubt) funded using only the free tools available to a young man in his student accommodation, working in his spare time (when he’s not playing in his Open Source band). It’s a pure phenomenon of the post-crash, post-Microsoft, post-million-line-app, post-McKinsey, post-Worldcom, post-bullshit, post-marketing, post-bloated-monolithic, post-big-dumb-fuck era. It’s very exciting to watch. Follow Matt at twitter.com/mattmc.