We have a William Gibson quote above our desk here at Known HQ:
"The street finds its own uses for things."
It's from Burning Chrome, and serves as a reminder that users will find uses for technologies that its creators were not necessarily expecting. We don't just want to remain open to those new uses; we want to encourage them as much as we can.
We're back from IndieWebCamp in Portland - one of my favorite technology events in one of my favorite cities in the world. Technologists and like-minded creators get together in order to help create web platforms that promote ownership, allow people to communicate with each other freely online, and give people full control of the things they create and share.
I'd started building Known before I aligned myself with the indie web community, but it fits so well: Known allows anyone to publish to their own website as easily as Twitter or Facebook, lets them talk to other people all over the Internet (on existing social networks, on other Known sites, and on blogs and journals), and gives them control over their content.
In a world where the platforms we use every day are spying on us, or even performing psychological tests on us without our knowledge, and when platforms shut down all the time, more people are certainly crying out for more ownership and control. We'll be there for them. Our mission is to empower people to publish to their own space on the Internet.
As part of a discussion on indie web businesses, Amber Case said she thought the market for these products is going to emerge organically. I agree, and it's always better for people to tell you what they find you useful for. Twitter is a great example of a service that has developed that way.
Of course, I also have a business need to sell our product, and prove that it will be useful for enough people to support our growth. We've been having some great conversations with people who need Known: people whose reputations and incomes are tied to their identity online, and the things they make and share on the web. But as any scientist will tell you, anecdotes aren't enough.
Over the next two weeks, we'll begin inviting people to use our Known service. Now is a great time to add yourself to our beta list. It's free - we want your feedback and develop our product hand-in-hand with the people who are using it. We think that's the best way to help the street find its own uses for what we're making, and in the process, create something that changes the way people represent themselves on the web.