With the arrival of Biz Stone’s new app Jelly, people are starting to comment on the user experience and aim of the app. So what exactly IS the point of being able to answer a bunch of questions from other people? I remember asking myself the same question when this feature was on Facebook years ago… Here are my thoughts on the Jelly platform.
There is a lot of potential to get addicted and lost answering questions for no real reason
My first experience was like most other new platforms. I go on and browse and get lost in answering questions and making updates. To be honest, it was a little addictive, but I quickly started to wonder how long I would remain interested and if it was actually useful. First response: Its not. Why would I care to answer random questions from random people about random topics?
When I posted a few questions myself, I wasn’t much more inspired. Like “Vine” and “Twitter” before *, I felt like I was forcing myself to come up with something clever to say. Like the people taking pictures of their cat and asking “What animal is this?” it seems anything is deemed jelly-worthy. I remain skeptical. But…
* of course, I love these tools today and keep using them for very valuable things
If I can afford to wait for answers, it might add value to the classical Google searches
According to crowdsourcing theory, if enough people answer a question, the average of their answers is probably going to be right. This was first suggested by Francis Galton, who asked the crowd to judge the weight of an ox at a country fair in Plymouth, England. The average answer was remarkably close to the reality, even though people could only judge by sight. *
In “The Wisdom of Crowds” by James Surowiecki, many other applications of the impact of the crowd are discussed. Perhaps Biz Stone was inspired by these in the creation of Jelly? Getting valuable input from a group of people is the whole core pitch of Jelly.
Personally, I am going to continue my Jelly testing to see what it gives..
Unless I want information about a specific image (in front of me) I will have to be visually clever to ask good questions
The trouble I see with Jelly is that unless I am actually in front of an interesting but confusing visual stimuli, to get the most out of Jelly will require a lot of visual creativity. In a museum, I could take a picture of a painting and ask questions. But if I really want some wisdom on other topics, why can’t I just ask? Why do I need a picture?
I can’t choose who I ask questions to
As far as I can see, the questions I post to Jelly are thrown out into the world in a very random way. (It isn’t clear to me yet if all Jelly users are seeing my questions, or only the people I know). From a learning point of view, this is not very interesting to me. Although Surowiecki’s book suggests that it probably isn’t necessarily wise to seek out answers from experts, I would like to able to address my questions to specific communities to illicit experts answers. Maybe I should stick with LinkedIn groups…
It’s not very searchable (yet)
At the moment, I can’t search with Jelly. If I want to find out what the crowd thinks about a specific topic, I am stuck. This seems a shame to me. Wouldn’t it be nice to search (or ask) questions (and answers) on specific topic or categories?
The marketeers are going to love it
General Electric has jumped on the Jelly app already to position their brand within the guise of a question. This will surely continue to be a trend and I suspect that in between random questions from good-willing users, there will be a lot of product placement. I hope it doesn’t go too far…
My Twitter discussion with @zmccune has given me more insight on this. He suggests that the app could be used for focus groups and quick value mobile surveys.
But what are the other applications? Can we use this in the learning world?
Questions to Jelly
As with many such platforms, I have a lot of questions as I start:
- Who is deciding which questions I am offered to answer and in which order?
- Who is seeing my questions?
- Are you keeping all my answers and opinions to be used against me or given to the sales guys?
- What is coming next?
If you’ve tried Jelly, I’d love to have your comments. If you haven’t – get on there and waste a bit of your life. You never know what you might find…
Thanks for reading