ThisNext, a social shopping and recommendations company, released an iWant application for Facebook last week. The application is pretty simple – install it and list the things you want, and iWant will feature them on your profile page and broadcast them in your feeds to your friends.
The application can be used in two very different ways. In the first, a user can designate very specific things that s/he wants, include the price and pointers to where it can be purchased, and broadcast the want to his or her network. (Similar to Amazon’s Wishlist)
In the second example, a user can indicate a general want and solicit recommendations from his or her network. The Mashable interview with ThisNext founder Gordon Gould suggests that this is how they want users to use iWant:
The Amazon Wishlist and the iWant application are two different but interesting examples of social markets, both driving transactions across the economic infrastructure a social network provides.
In the Amazon example, the wants and the haves are actual – John wants a TV and his aunt buys one on Amazon for him. A market that connected John to someone in his network that already had the TV would be even more interesting.
In the iWant example, the wants and the haves are informational – Maia wants a recommendation for a good purse and someone in her network may be able to provide it. This functions much more like LinkedIn Answers, as questions are broadcast over the network and answers are returned. Here, a given user wants information, another user has it, and the network allows them to connect.
All of this exacerbates an increasingly urgent information overload problem I’ve discussed elsewhere, as more information is broadcast to an increasingly deaf listening audience.
Bottom Line: Unless attention tools are developed to boost the signal to noise ratio, both types of wishlists (actual and informational) will become muted and decreasingly relevant.