No Longer Illusion, Meet Harpoen

This silly idea1 I came up with few months ago is no longer an illusion. Meet Harpoen.

Aulia Masna on DailySocial:

Harpoen lets you leave notes, photos, remarks, comments all over the city, virtually. This digital graffiti app lets you put up what the developer calls “harps” all over the city which can be placed permanently or temporarily, as you can set these harps to disappear after a particular length of time if you wish.

Update 2014-03-08: John Patrick, co-founder and CEO of Harpoen, sent me an open letter. It answered most of my questions and gave some insight of what they may add in their next version.

How to delete harps?

This is very much on our minds as well. To stay with the graffiti analogy, Harps are also written in indelible ink. Messages that remain, for better or worse, become more interesting for their permanence. Harps currently cannot be deleted after creation. The evaporate function can schedule future removal but must be set when the Harp is created.

How to delete comments?

Comments can be a part of a thread, so removing one may upset the conversation. Comments can’t be deleted. Commenting (or Harping) anonymously is also a fix — why does it need to be deleted if “I” never wrote it?

How will it handle a huge number of overlapping harps? (I’m not using time filter)

We are working on ways to better navigate areas with numerous Harps. One way, which we failed to include in our app tour (on first load and always available on the settings page), is “Stacks.” When Harps are made in the exact same location, the preview panel becomes horizontally scrollable and slides between different messages.

Filters are the main way to navigate lots of overlapping content. The time filter allows you to look back at what is being said in a certain place and the other filters help see the different people saying it. New filters will be added to help hear all voices, and to help users connect with the kind of ideas and things they want to connect with.

Do I really need to tap each node to view harps?

This the first version of Harpoen and we did our best to create a unique and sensible user interface. The answer for now is yes – you must tap each node to view Harps. But what did you have in mind? Please help us brainstorm!

“How to make money” is not exactly a question for Harpoen. They can charge advertisers for the ability to leave harps anywhere on the map, or premium account for Harpers.2

Their first goal is probably increasing user base. The effective way, from my experience with social networks, is to attract influencers. If you can get influencers to use your product, you can increase your user base easily.

What do most influencers have in common? Popularity. And the indicator of popularity? Numbers.

Unless you add numbers, influencers are unlikely to use Harpoen.3 This is their response:

The question about influencers, and to a lesser extent the question about money, has the same answer. As cheesy as it is to quote a movie (and you know which one we mean), to “make something cool” is what we’re trying to do. We have a ton of other ideas that soon will be added to Harpoen, like favorites, notifications, and a something we are currently calling “Lighthouse.”

Seems they’re doing what most startup has done so far. Monetize later. Not that it’s not going to work, but charge for the service once it proves useful and cool.


  1. Ideas are cheap, execution matters.

  2. Or Harperians.

  3. Retweets, Reblogs, Likes, Loves, Reshares.