Announcing Allify by Nate Westheimer

Today, I'm excited to announce a project I've been working on that's a joint-venture by the iconic NYC-based incubator Betaworks, and the hot upstart NYC-based product firm Prehype.

The project is Allify: an iPhone application developer/publisher alliance for the joint promotion of each other's applications.

The problem: right now, the only way to get distribution for your application is to pay out the nose on an existing ad network, get "TechCrunched," or to call in a favor at Apple (presuming you know someone there) and get featured on the iTunes homepage.

For the rest of us (and for many in the above categories), when we release an application -- something we've spent endless hours on -- we are left hoping to grow organically, and all too often that means slowly and at a decaying rate after launch. If we do get press, there's no way to bottle up that burst of attention and keep the downloads rolling in past people's latest RSS refresh. Finally, if we do have an existing application doing well, there's no way to confer our current success to our next product. In short, getting distribution is a pain, and someone needs to fix it.

Enter Allify. As a allied member of Allify, you add an ad unit to your iPhone application -- on whatever screens you choose -- and build up Allify credits for every ad you display. In return for these impressions, you earn impressions for your application across the network, to be spent whenever you wish (now, at your next release, with your next product), for free.

With Allify, we're finally trying to open up massive distribution opportunities to everyone with a great app and big aspirations.

If you have or are building an iPhone app, head to Allify.com and sign up, and if you have any questions about the project, feel free to contact me. Meanwhile, check out this fun video

PS: To get updates on the project, follow us on Twitter at @AllifyApps

Why I'm Long Foursquare: Privacy by Nate Westheimer

Let's be honest, I'm "long" Foursquare for several reasons, ranging from looking at comparables like Twitter and how they've fought through Facebook's onslaughts, to sharing blind, entrepreneurial optimism with my friend who started and work at the company. So here's the disclaimer: there's not much you could tell me that would make me too negative about the future of Foursquare, despite Facebook Places.

But, when you hear that Foursquare had more signups yesterday than ever before, and you look at how confusing using Facebook Places is, it's then that I leave my blind optimism behind and come up with a pretty solid reasons why Foursquare is here to stay, and is going to dominate the mobile-meets-social revolution:

Foursquare's strength in its battle against Facebook is tucked away in a little nuance Dennis and Naveen have understood for years. While Foursquare haters (same people who asked "why would people want to blog" and then "why would people want to share stupid things on Twitter) say "why would you want to tell people where you are," they overlook 2 features which have always been present on Foursquare: 1) the ability to hide your whereabouts when you checkin; and 2) the ability to only share with certain networks.

It's this second feature which is most important.

On Facebook, I've never figured out the friend-list feature (same with every other user of Facebook) and so I've resigned to know that when I push something to Facebook, EVERYONE is going to see that information. So with anything Facebook related, I'm dictated by the social, and not the practical.

Foursquare has the power here because real users of their platform know that they have a lot more control, and they know which network is going to get what information. For instance, with most of my checkins, I only want to tell other Foursquare friends what I'm up to. My thinking is that if they're my Foursquare friends, they're both my real-real friends, and my friends I don't mind sharing my whereabouts with. While convention of Facebook has convinced me to friend people on Facebook I don't really consider friends and who work in my industry or are friends with my friends, convention on Foursquare -- something Dennis has always, always defended -- is to keep your network tight.

In a time of Facebook privacy backlash, Foursquare's biggest advantage is that it's a new network for most people where they can start over with their social graph and define a new set of people who can see where they are and what they are doing, in real life.

Facebook is going to own the activity feed for a lot of people -- and that's fine -- but the checkin information I want in my activity feed is just a small, small portion of the total checkins I'm going to perform.

That's why I'm long Foursqure. I believe they'll embrace their roots and a "real, real friends only" platform and become the place where people segment their larger social graph, found on Facebook, and focus on their IRL social graph, found on Fourquare.

Good luck team Foursquare!

Why I'm Reading Blogs Again by Nate Westheimer

Since the Spring of 2007, when Twitter hit the techstream, blogs, blogging, and reading blogs became the markings of late adopters. With early adopters, "Follower" count became more important than "Subscribers." The serendipity of stuff you found in the "stream" was sexier than the expected stuff you found in your Reader. And best of all, instead of counting words and paragraphs and trackbacks, we started counting characters and RTs.

RT: @everyone: OMG I cant believe u fit all that awsm in just 140 chars. LOL!

But suddenly, over the past 6 months, I've started reading blogs again.

I've dusted off the Google Reader, installed some apps on my iPhone and iPad, and read -- like it was 2006 or something -- every post of the blogs I subscribe to, every day.

So this is what a flashback feels like.

My move back to reading blogs has come for several reason, and also has brought with it a new set of rules for which content to subscribe to and why it's important. Mostly, it's born from a recent revelation:

Content on Twitter is low-cost to product/low-cost to consume. For most of us, making there content is meaningless, and the fact that you're consuming it means even less.

How can I provide value to a "follower," or be a value-adding follower, when on the consuption end a) we only have to put up with each other 140 characters at a time, and b) we have a pretty great excuse for missing a vast majority of things we say to each other?

That's not what a good relationship looks like!

Meanwhile, as I started looking at my blog reader again, I had a second revelation: Great content/articles for blogs are really, really hard to produce. And, when you read quality people -- like my favorite of late, Andrew Parker, and my previous favorite, before he went "pro", Sam Lessin -- then following those people are real work too. With a blog there's serious investment. People think before they speak. When someone I subscribe to writes something, I know they really cared about what they just did, and it makes me care in return.

On the other side, when someone subscribes to your blog, and reads it regularly, you value that person dearly. That someone takes the time to slog through your thoughts, and that that person does it regularly -- not just because they were "retweeted" a link and happend upon it -- forms a very special bond and sense of respect.

One needs to look no further than Fred Wilson as a great example of this. No one in this space that I know personally has invested more into his blog and his readers than Fred. When you go through the archives it's hard not to admire the dedication, thought, and substance.

But what's really cool is considering what loyal readers of his blog have gotten out of their "subscriber" status. A number of months ago I was telling Fred about some of the cool GWAP (games with a purpose) ideas we were playing around with at AnyClip and right away he thought of a "regular commenter" (Shana Carp) who I should connect with. Looking through the archives of Fred's posts, I know it's not the first time he's done a favor, publicly or privately, for a loyal reader of his. I just have to imagine it comes from an appreciation for what "loyal reader" really means.

So this is why I'm reading blogs again: to get back to an environment where the content I'm reading took serious work from someone, and to force myself to take my role as a subscriber seriously and read content that takes real work to follow.

In fact, I've now gone so far as to unsubscribed from a lot of blogs I liked, just so it fits this model. For instance, professionally produced content means less to me now, solely because it was someone's job to create it, rather than 100% pure passion. (I did keep Caroline McCarthy in my reader though, since 1) she was friend #2 of mine in the NY tech scene 4 years back and 2) because she's a damn good writer). As for Tumblr, I'm now feeding anything I care about into my reader, and anyone who reblogs heavily (that's how I use Tumblr) I've turned off.

While all this may seem a bit uninteresting, strange, or pointless to some people, I'm actually incredibly excited. I've gone from dreading my reader to cherishing every bit of content that gets pushed through there. And while the big win for me is getting smarter via the hard work of people I respect, the cherry on top is that reading great content in inspiring me to get back into the great habit I had in 2007/2008 of writing (what I now look back on and believe was) pretty interesting content.

So here's to late 2010 being the revival of the blog reader, led by a public reinvestment in producing and consuming ultra high quality content by and for those we know, like, and admire.