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A Mobile App: From Inception to Creation in 48 Hrs

November 10, 2010
at 12:53 pm PST

A few weeks ago, I was testing out something I heard from Ekaterina Walter (@ekaterina) of Intel, and in the process, accidentally crowdsourced my community to build a mobile app in 48 hours. According to Ekaterina, Facebook’s Newsfeed algorithm ignores YouTube videos embedded into a Facebook page update. In order to test this out, I grabbed the link to an interesting video that one of my fans shared on our wall. If you’re into math, networking or computer engineering, you’ll love it. Otherwise, you might not.

Don’t tell YouTube, but I used keepvid.com to download a copy of this video. I then posted the YouTube embedded video, and then uploaded the video as a Facebook video. As you can see below, the FB video received overwhelming response, because it went viral in the Newsfeed of my 130K fans.

Then something happened that I would have never expected. Andrew Smith (@teraknor) suggested that we make a mobile app out of this video. Andrew is a Cisco Networking Academy instructor in the UK, and I agreed with him that this contraption could help students understand the difficult concept of binary and subnetting.

I paused for a second, aren’t my fans savvy enough that a few of them might have the know-how to make such an app? So I posted the question, and asked for help making the app, and set up one of the newly released private groups on Facebook. Oh yeah, and we got the permission and full support of the creator the this contraption to do this.

Within a matter of minutes I had eager volunteers ready to start working on this app immediately. Stefano was in Italy, Thomas in the UK, and a few others spread around the globe. We all stayed up late that evening working within the FB group to discuss what we needed to make this happen. I developed wireframes and graphics for each of the developers, while Richie Martori set up a Google subversion site to host the development assets.

Skipping all of the mundane steps in between, 48 hours after posting the original video that sparked the idea, we had a working alpha of the mobile app.

Current state of the experiment gone wild:

  • The group is still working on the iPhone and Android versions
  • We’re leveraging the NetAcad FB community to alpha test the app
  • You can download an executable file for Windows here
  • We’re experimenting with more FB groups around other crowdsourcing topics like micro lessons in networking

What are the lessons I’ve learned and what do I think you should take away from this? If you build the right type of online community, anything is possible. Bring people together that have shared interests, give them the tools they need to drive participatory innovation, and you could very well change the world.

Leverage the network as a platform to change the world by bringing people together.

In my next post, I will cover how I built the Cisco Networking Academy Facebook page to what it is today. In the meantime, check it out for yourself: http://www.facebook.com/cisconetworkingacademy

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6 Comments.


  1. A very exciting model Charlie.
    I can see this crowd-sourcing approach being applied in both ‘real world’ and training scenarios, and not necessarily with software as the end product, but the solution to any problem.

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  2. Very good article.Thanks Again. Much obliged.

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  3. CISCO is one of famous Name in IT sector.
    And I really happy to hear about mobile application
    I wish you can develop a very competitive application for mobile.
    Thanks-
    http://www.london-it-support.net

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  4. it’s nice to see a great movie like inception inspiering people to create something unimaginable

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    • Charlie Treadwell

      @Remi Except in the movie it would have only felt like 48 hours, when in reality it was 10 seconds. ;-)

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  5. That is one cool slot machine! I’m really glad I just discovered your blog and the Cisco Networking Academy. I’m excited to learn from you guys. I’m totally inspired by what you say about building the right type of community online. I have a lot of work to do, but at least I see it is really possible and now know where to look for inspiration. I can’t wait for the next post. Thanks!

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