Here’s a quote from a Steve Jobs interview from 1995:
Many companies get the disease of thinking that a really great idea is 90 percent of the work. And if you just tell all these other people here’s this great idea then of course they can go off and make it happen. And the problem with that is that there’s just a tremendous amount of craftsmanship in between a great idea and a great product. Designing a product is keeping five thousand things in your brain and fitting them all together in new and different ways to get what you want.And every day you discover something new that is a new problem or a new opportunity to fit these things together a little differently.
At BetterAt, we’re lucky that every day brings a new learning about a problem or an opportunity to fit these things together differently. It’s been a fun journey that’s starting to get a lot more interesting.
We human beings have a tendency to evaluate circumstances and make decisions through a single, myopic lens. I wonder how those decisions would change if we had a panopticon view of ourselves and the challenges we face irrespective of being immersed in a certain time and place.
I’ve read a few things lately that have compelled me to think this. Anand Giridharas’ article, “Is it a Crisis? Maybe So, if you’re a King” in the NYTimes reminds us that crises are ripe times for change. It is during these times that nascent ideas and the small groups of willing individuals who sustain them can create a better future for more people.
Sometimes it seems as if if we have read everything about Thomas Kuhn and paradigm shifts and flushed it out of our head. Luckily, Giridharas reminds us:
If you’re stuck in the old paradigm, these developments could seem like a crisis. You might fret that no one is reading encyclopedias anymore. Or that these kids who resist newspapers are so ignorant. Or that your nation used to lead from the front and now lurks in the back. Or that the government should be “creating” jobs but isn’t.
I found this snippet notable as it relates to my next point about content:
Media outlets might rethink themselves as curators of complex reality rather than purveyors of wholly produced scoops — much as the Al Jazeera English program “The Stream” does, inviting viewers and social-media users to help craft its topics and ask questions of its guests, then reading their feedback live on the air.
Ira Glass: I feel like as a people we have to officially stop asking if radio is going to survive. It’s so boring! I feel like I get asked that, like, every two weeks of my life, and the fact is we don’t have to decide that. You know what I mean? We don’t have to come to a judgment on that.For some reason radio seems to survive, and I believe it’s because as long as there are cars with radios and people are lazy, people will get into a car and turn on a radio. And thank God people are fucking lazy. And like radio sort of just is there. And then in addition, people who are on radio doing anything interesting can put it out as a podcast and get a second audience, and so it seems like the whole computer thing has just been actually good for radio and the style that we do it. And I think it’s going to be fine.
I don’t think we have to worry. If radio goes away, something else will happen, and who gives a fuck that it’s gone?
And here’s the emphatic point of this blog postthat resonates with me.
Ira Glass: I think the question of, like, “Is radio going to survive?” — it’s disturbingly nostalgic. I mean, who cares if it survives? Who cares if radio survives? Like, something else will happen.
Something else will happen. And we should feel confident that whatever happens is good for more people than today’s status quo.
We all (should) know by now using Apple’s examples that it’s all about sweating the details and getting everything. just. right.
This blog post and lesson by Aaron Swartz is a great reminder that details that impede your user tend to overshadow details that delight your user. I think he hit the nail on the head — speaking from personal experience as both a Kindle and an iPad owner.
Bezos must have spent tons of energy getting this stuff right. And he must be sitting there, pissed, that Steve Jobs gets all these laurels while no one ever recognizes the stuff he’s done. But I don’t think that’s because Jobs is a better marketer and showman than Bezos (that’s the easy way out); it’s because the small details that delight get buried under small details that annoy.
That’s the thing about delightful details: they’re not just another thing you can add on top. Unless you sweat the details all the way through the user experience, the ones that delight quickly get drowned out by the ones that constantly annoy. I hope someone at Amazon will take that to heart.