Introducing Done Not Done, the first lovechild of Betaworks and Fictive Kin's union

By Erin Griffith , written on January 11, 2013

From The News Desk

If you want to organize some aspect of your life, there's an app, or, perhaps more accurately, 849,032,849,302 apps, for that. Still, most people stick with boring old "notes" on the iPhone.

Here is a fancy one for your media-consumption needs: Today New York startup factory Betaworks, through its partnership with product shop Fictive Kin, has announced the launch of Done Not Done. The grammarian in me really wants this app to have a comma or slash in its name – I'm sure Fictive Kin and Betaworks are #sorrynotsorry about that. Nonetheless!

Existing in both Web and mobile app form, Done Not Done is a slick way to keep track of that movie you wanted to see, or that band you intended to check out. In the "not done" section, users can maintain lists of books, movies, and music they want to look into, and once they have, they can shift them across to "done." As well as the usual ratings and social sharing options, there's a "buddy up" function for making plans with friends.

mzl.qavcidrx.320x480-75Bucking the "quantified self" trend, which emphasizes passive information gathering, the app asks you to input everything manually. For some people, that might be a problem. Many users abandon organization apps like to-do lists or fitness trackers because they require too much discipline to maintain – especially when they're apps they have to remember to dig up, open, and enter information into regularly. This is why the Nike Fuelband and Larklife are such celebrated novelties.

But Fictive Kin's Cameron Koczon says that users might be happy to do the work for Done Not Done because the content contributes to their identities. It's purposely not a social reader, which shares each embarrassing article a person clicks on, or every lowbrow YouTube video they watch. It's more like your bookshelf. At this point in the evolution of digital media, physical books are nothing but heavy, expensive decorations with no real function. Yet, unlike CDs, which we've thrown out, and DVDs, which are all but extinct, we lug our book collections around with each apartment upgrade because we like the statement they make: This is the home of an intelligent, well-read person with varied interests. Done Not Done does that digitally, alongside a to-do list of the books you aspire to read. The idea is, we're happy to manually add these items because we're attaching them to our identity. Also, in its next update, Done Not Done will begin importing consumption data from other apps.

The app certainly benefits from the network effects of having friends sign up. Users can find out about a new movie that all of their friends have seen, or, even better, notice that several of their friends want to see the same movie and use the "buddy up" function to go do it.

"It uses the Web to get people off the Web," Koczon says. "That's why we don't have an activity feed -- Done Not Done can be successful without you spending all your time on it. Which isn't the same thing as like a Twitter or Facebook."

Betaworks and Fictive Kin have three to five more ideas for apps they'll build together. The partnership is meant to merge Fictive Kin's strong design sensibilities with the resources of Betaworks' startup factory. Like all Betaworks projects, the intention is to scale the app and "see if there are signs of life," said Paul Murphy, Betaworks' entrepreneur in residence. A potential business model for Done Not Done is hinted at in the app's Purpose manifesto:

Once you’ve told us the things you want to do, we’ll do everything in our power to make it easier, faster, and cheaper to do those things.
We'll mark that one as "not done"… yet.

[Image courtesy paloetic (super slow internet)]