The old Abuzz

Before the Abuzz iPhone app, there was another Abuzz – a community site run by The New York Times.  You can check out a snapshot of the old site here, courtesy of the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

Two things come to mind:

  1. I will never get to own the Abuzz domain – The New York Times still has it on lockdown until 2012 and I doubt they’ll be surrendering it after that.
  2. How ahead of its time was this site?

Launched in 1999, the NYT Abuzz site was “social networking” before sites like Myspace and Facebook took center stage.  There was a question/answer format (similar to Yahoo! Answers or Mahalo Answers), a discussion section (which isn’t that original – forums and USENET were around for years) and section for publishing commentary, such as book reviews, reactions to news stories, and so on.

On top of that, the site attempted what many sites are still trying to do today – filter information and deliver only what it thinks will be relevant to you.  Pretty amazing stuff.

As you can see here, the site shut down on September 2, 2004, citing limited resources.  The fact that the NYT has held on to the domain name long afterwards means they think the domain is a valuable asset (I agree).  Do they have plans to utilize it in the future?  Who knows.  If not, and if anyone at the Times is reading this, I’ll gladly take it off your hands. ;)

Back to the drawing board

I launched Abuzz last Thursday and heard lots of nice things from those who downloaded it.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank each and every one of you. :)  The app was born out of my own need for it.  I actually went into the App Store one day looking for something like it and was astonished that it didn’t exist.  So I got to work – mapping out the app and its various features.  I brought someone in to put it together and, in three months, I had a finished product.

But I failed to get Abuzz significant coverage, and that is my fault and my fault alone.

Other than Louis Gray’s great write-up, I couldn’t get a single other blog to run with it.  That tells me more than anything that the app isn’t as polished as it should be.  I had considered pushing out incremental updates, adding features every few weeks, but it’s clear to me now that those would only be bandages on a much bigger wound.  So the next iteration of Abuzz to see the light of day will be 2.0 (it will, of course, be released as an update, not as a separate app – I’m not pulling any Tweetie stuff, here).

I’ve listened to feedback and had a lot of great ideas come my way.  The interface will get an enormous facelift.  The user experience will be vastly improved.  The app will stand on its own both as a social media search tool and as a Twitter client.  I don’t want to let too much slip, but I’ll say this – I’m going to make sure the app is everything it should be.

Be sure to follow @abuzzapp for updates.

Abuzz has arrived!

For the past three months, there has been one constant in my life: my Abuzz project.

I played with what I felt was the final version about two weeks ago and ultimately decided to hold off until a few more things were added.  The features in question were features I had planned to issue in a later update but instead found vital to what became Abuzz 1.0.  I’m thrilled to say that Abuzz is now in the App Store.

If you plan on downloading the app, I would love to get your thoughts on it.  Be sure to shoot me an email – shawnfarner [at] gmail [dot] com.  Also, check out the official Abuzz web site over at

Finally, I’d like to thank Louis Gray for this great writeup.

I’m hoping to develop Abuzz past what everyone has seen so far – I won’t be satisfied until it’s a must-have for iPhone owners.  I encourage you to ping me with ideas for features you’d like to see in updates.  Email, call, text (717-884-9763) – it’s all good. :)

Thank you all so much,


What’s next?

With Abuzz development winding down (after a small delay), I’ve been wondering what project I’ll take on next.  This isn’t to say that Abuzz won’t be improved upon and future releases won’t come out – the app will still own some of my life.  But what will own it after that?

I could do another iPhone app.  I have some ideas I’ve been kicking around and it doesn’t look like anyone else is doing them.  Plus, after Abuzz, I feel confident that I could manage such a project and do so more smoothly.  That route is open, but I’m currently looking in a different direction.

I want to do something disruptive.

Making tough decisions

I thought I had a finished version of Abuzz, the iPhone app I’ve been diligently working on since the beginning of October.  However, I suddenly realized that I’d be putting something out that I wasn’t totally satisfied with.  There were a few features I was going to have pushed out in an update later, but why go that route?  Why not wait a bit longer and include it all?

So I pushed it back.  I’d rather have the app include all the functions I want on day one.  It really kills me to do it – I’d love to get Abuzz out there – but I know it’s the right thing to do.

First tough decision of the year.  What else will 2010 bring?

What are your goals for 2010?

I have a few – some large, some small.  I’m hoping that putting them out there for the world to see will help me follow through.

  1. Write at least one blog post per day.
  2. Write a full-length novel.
  3. Attend at least three tech conferences/unconferences.
  4. Shape Abuzz into a must-have search application.
  5. Pay off at least half of my student loans.

What are yours?

What’s Abuzz?

Well, it’s an iPhone app. :)

Abuzz lets you search Twitter, the blogosphere, the forumsphere (or whatever it’s called) and Digg.  It lets you organize your keyword searches into campaigns so that you can keep your related searches together.  You can search all the supported services at once or customize your search to include results from just one or two.Abuzz

What’s really cool about Abuzz is the built-in Twitter client.  It’s lightweight (just like the rest of the app) but gives you everything you need – you can tweet out, send replies, send direct messages, view profiles, follow/unfollow and so on.  You can interact with the tweets in your own timeline and your searches, which frees you from having to open another app if you want to take action on a tweet you’ve found in a search.

Let’s say you work for Apple and want to set up searches for the iPhone and Macbook.  You could open the Abuzz app, create a new campaign called “Apple” and add keyword searches for “iPhone” and “Macbook”.  It’s that easy.  You won’t waste a lot of time navigating through a dedicated Twitter app to set up searches or browsing through Safari trying to search blogs, forums and Digg.  Abuzz is social media search, plain and simple.

So where’s Abuzz?  We’re squashing our last round of bugs at the moment and we’ll probably have an App Store-ready app in three or four days. Keep your eyes peeled two or three weeks into January!  And if you have some search services you’d like to see available inside Abuzz, let me know!  Shoot an email to