Some thoughts on Aviary shared.

deliciousmint.net is doing a research project on web-based applications and sent a few questions our way. I got her permission to share her questions, along with our answers.

What was your inspiration behind starting Aviary?

We had a problem: Allowing users to sell their Worth1000 images was very inefficient because it attracted some angry copyright holders whose rights had been infringed and we had no way to verify what content was actually uploaded legally. Finally technology's advances allowed us a way to perform that regulation in the form of a platform that tracks works from start to finish. There was nothing like it online and artists who don't yet know they are artists ( i.e. people with non-artistic day jobs and hidden potential) need some sort of powerful free tool set to discover themselves. And so we conceived of Aviary.

How would you determine if your site is successful? What kind of usage are you aiming for, and how do you intend to generate this?

We already have a user based of almost half a million registered members at Worth1000, so we are confident we'll have many users right from launch interested in using the service.

Where do you see Aviary heading in the future?

Open framework, so people can build their own tools into Aviary. Plugins for other third party desktop applications, so users are free to use whichever tool they like to create (not just ours), while still gaining the benefit of Aviary's content platform. More power and a smaller gap between desktop applications and online applications as technology catches up.

Do you see Aviary as having socio-cultural impact? If so, how?

I hope it will make it feasible that businesses won't feel they automatically need to charge for people to use their tools when they are used for fun. For example, most uses of Adobe Photoshop are probably non-commercial, yet the software (even the light version) is still prohibitively expensive. If we as the software industry can all provide ways for people to use our tools and services in financial partnership with us (instead of a client relationship with us), everyone wins.

Google is already doing this with each company they acquire (Urchin, Writely, Feedburner) and are providing an advertising marketplace where they ultimately make their money back.

What are your thoughts on the internet generating new communities?

That's a whole different interview, but I have published some thoughts on the value of communities on my personal blog.

Are there now new notions of community in the digital age?

Well, I don't think community is something that can be broadly defined anymore, if that's what you're looking for. 15 years ago community was interpreted along general terms: family, neighbors, school and religious organizations. Now it can mean anything and everything, no matter how niche.

Is Aviary beneficial to society? If so, how?

Yes, because it means free on-demand tools to create and refine content in different mediums? Before Aviary creation was mostly linear. Now it will be more tree-like (if you would visualize artwork created in it). The end result will be more refined, reusable and affordable content for the world.

Is everyday life being transformed through the use of sites such as yours? Are we moving closer to reaching the potential of the internet?

We have just reached the tipping point where streaming computing has become possible and communal thinking has become accepted. We're not even close to reaching the zenith of the Internet's usefulness.

Do you think there are problems associated with levels of regulation in uploaded / user generated material on the internet?

Certainly and that is precisely why we created Aviary. We need a framework that people can use to verify that content is unique and problem free.

Do you consider your site a web 2.0 site?

Everyone's definition is different. I wouldn't consider ours just a "site". I'd consider it a web 2.0 "suite". :-)

How would you define a web 2.0 website?

I can't define it, but I can offer a parable: It's an online garden: An entity that expands and becomes more rich and independently chaotic as time goes on.]]