Quickly Noted: The End of the Vine
I heard late last week that the Microsoft Vine service (that we talked about last year) is scheduled to be shut down by Microsoft next month. At the time of my original review, I said that it seemed like a great idea, though worried about how the development team planned to get folks to install and maintain the service.
And it turned out that they didn’t ever get that part fixed. My original recommendation was to move the service wholly online, and one of the developers I talked to said that was in the works. Unfortunately, it seems like they never got that far, and with the meteoric growth of services like Facebook and Twitter, as well as the success of the Google and Red Cross efforts at mass notification (PersonFinder and Safe and Well List, respectively), it seems that Microsoft wasn’t looking to continue to fund what ended up being little more than a niche product.
It’s a shame, too, because I think that the time is ripe for a mobile-focused “emergency” application, wholly dependent on open-standards and APIs, to come along and really make some waves. With integration into all of the major social networks (the ability to post to and receive messages from – think of all of the apps that currently do this for music, or purchases) and a way to capture feeds from a variety of services (think USGS earthquake alerts or local crime alerts) say could really be onto something. Future builds could integrate crowd-sourced disaster mapping interfaces (through Ushahidi or Crisismapping).
Think about it, a set-it-and-forget-it app that you download to your smartphone (or conversely visit on a website, or Facebook app) that allows you select the disaster feeds you need and log into your social networks so you can post to them auto-magically. Your smartphone would then get notifications of events and give you the opportunity to send an “I’m okay” message, which would propagate through the apps’ servers to post on all of your social networks. Dumbphones could get text message alerts and offer the same capability to post “I’m okay” messages by sending a text message to a short code (like we all did for the Red Cross/Haiti donations). Sound easy? Got some capital lying around? Want to start a business?