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From FOWA : Liveblogging, "Launch a Web App in 40 Minutes"

Ever wondered how to build a web app in record time? We sure have. At Future of Web Apps 2008 today, Eric Schoenfeld of TechCrunch is leading a panel called, "Launch a Web App in 40 Minutes." Since we're here, we're curious, and the wifi at this event is rock solid, we're live blogging it, much to the chagrin of your index finger.

Lights dim.. here we go.
Ryan from Carsonified, "This is going to be the craziest panel ever"

"I picked some of the smartest people I know"

Format : "We're going to present some ideas", "have you guys cheer for them, and pick the one which wins"

Eric, TechCrunch, Leah Culver from Pounce, Matt Mullenweg from Wordpress, Kevin Rose from Digg, Blaine from Twitter.

Blaine's idea : "I hate phone trees.. my idea is a website that lets you choose the department you want, calls, navigates the tree and calls you when it has someone on the line"

Kevin Rose : "I don't answer my email on time.", "It's basically a webapp that watches your imap and sends follow-ups and lets you know how much email I have left to get through", "Kevin has 400 new emails, he's gotten through 23.. we estimate it'll be 70 hours before he gets to you"

Leah Culver : Sms based 411 based around social networking. SMS the service, it SMSes your friends, gets the info you need and gets it to you.

Eric : "Life Streaming." Putting together all your social services into a river. Tying it all together.

Now we're discussing the apps. "Which one is the biggest problem to solve?"

Lifecasting is overdone. Blaine's idea is interesting but expensive to implement at scale. Oddly, everyone is wearing fedoras. Kevin's idea is getting traction.

Leah's idea is being discussed. Comments on getting more and more Twitter requests for phone/contact info or directions.

"I would pay for Blaine's idea" - Leah

The panel is adding features to Kevin's idea.

Mullenweg says he'd work on an email app if he retired. It's a pet peeve. Email isn't useful for creating a social graph.

4 minutes.

Feedback from the audience.

Blaine, temperate. Kevin's loud, Leah's louder. No one likes life streaming.. it got a boo.

"something from the first three, obviously"

Looks like Leah's idea is winning.

The panel is warming to Leah's idea.

It's a tie between Kevin's mail status and Leah's SMS white pages.

Kevin - " I hate feature creep. Let's keep it simple"

Decision time: Audience likes Mail Stats. Electronic white pages gets hoops and hollers, but we're going with Mail Stats.

Mail Stats : What is the problem we're solving?

Automated notification of the fact that "Hey, I'm behind.. I'm not ignoring you"

Using IMAP, the app will check your mail and see how you're doing getting through it. How often you've checked it, are you moving through it. Sort of a virtual assistant, but on a very micro-task.

How does it prioritize? How do you make money?

Kevin, "I just wanna give it away free and then flip it to Google. Just being honest."

Matt, "The fundamental problem we're trying to solve is that people think you're an *ssh*le"

"Which is obviously not true"

Priority is becoming key. Gary Vaynerchuck is funny.

First in and first out doesn't work.

Kevin, "I never write my mom back as often as i should"

"My parents spam me."

Leah, "You could just send an auto-reply that says, 'Hey, I'm not a jerk'"

Kevin, "That's it.. build it!"

Kevin, [if I don't respond in] "48 hours, max.. it's not looking good"

Back on topic.

We're still discussing how we use email.

How can it learn? Maybe it could learn who you always respond to, or who you respond to quickly.

Let's try to define the experience. What does it look like? Is it a web service?

Emphatic, Yes.

Now we're talking about the site.. and branding. (Is this what we've become?)

What are the metrics.. then we can decide how to display them.

With metrics, we can make it a game.

The metrics so far:
  • Response rate (how quickly are you clearing your inbox?)
  • Who you're neglecting
  • 3, ?
Making email a game could lead to too terse replies. Maybe that's a good thing?

Kevin: Keep the front page simple. Advanced features are fine but, sell the simplicity.

Why does it rock?
  • Don't look like a jerk
  • Prioritize
  • Better personalization.
  • email with two "L"s
  • Statmail
  • Mailstat (Damn you!)
  • aloha
  • mailmodel (ha ha)
  • mailmokey
  • mailr (ha ha)
  • emailster
Mailmokey is getting traction. Mailmodel is too.

Audience voting again!

emailster is a big loser. Statmail is tempid. Don't be an email jerk is winning. Aloha is ok.. Mailmokey is mild. People are looking up these domains as we speak.

mailmodel wins.

Oh, wait.. Mailr or Mailmodel. Mailmodel still wins.

And that's it? Panel is over. Just brain storming. I doubt I'm the only one who thought there'd be more nuts and bolts.

Is it ironic that the panel on "the future of web apps was about email?" No, maybe not. It is however kind of ironic that it had more to do with branding than a feature set.