Historically, media companies have been in the business of selling individuals to advertisers: you put together some kind of a product that people love, and then bundle that product with advertising. But BuzzFeed is different. It starts the same way, by building products that people love. But then, instead of inserting advertising into that product, it then sells advertisers its expertise at building such things.
It’s not that email is broken or productivity tools all suck; it’s just that culture changes. People make email clients or to-do list apps in the same way that theater companies perform Shakespeare plays in modern dress. “Email” is our Hamlet. “To-do apps” are our Tempest.
The developer raises up the great sword of technology and brings it down upon the plinth of culture—and the sword shatters. But never mind; we can go back to the forge to make a bigger, better sword for retina displays. And as we craft it we whisper that eternal prayer for the comfort of list-makers: This time will be different.
ZUCKERBERG: We’ve changed our internal motto from “Move fast and break things” to “Move fast with stable infrastructure.”
WIRED: It doesn’t have the same ring to it.
ZUCKERBERG: It doesn’t, which I think is partially why it hasn’t caught on externally. But by building a stable infrastructure, we allow ourselves to always make sure that we’re moving forward, even if we move a little bit slower upfront. Because when you build something that you don’t have to fix it 10 times, you can move forward on top of what you’ve built.
Hooray, as another once headstrong, smugly anti-competent young hacker learns an age old lesson about what it means to do real engineering. If only we could go back in time a few years and prevent the waste of time and spirit that particular bit of received wisdom has undoubtedly engendered throughout the startup sector.
This makes me realize how useful the architectural/planning concept of “Shearing layers" is to consumer technoproduct making.
"Move fast and break things" still holds water, it just lacked a truly critical nuance. Breaking things is fine, It’s just a question of which layers can be broken. If you choose to move fast and break things at the database layer, you’re fucked. But if you choose not to move fast and break things at the topmost layer (the app, the site, the feature) you’re just as fucked.
In order to avoid losing its place atop organizations, design must deliver results. Designers must also accept that if they don’t, they’re not actually designing well; in technology, at least, the subjective artistry of design is mirrored by the objective finality of use data. A “great” design which produces bad outcomes —low engagement, little utility, few downloads, indifference on the part of the target market— should be regarded as a failure.
And if our best designers, ensconced in their labs with world-class teams, cannot reliably produce successful products, we should admit to ourselves that perhaps so-called “design science” remains much less developed than computer science, and that we’d do well to stay humble despite our rising stature. Design’s new prominence means that design’s failures have ever-greater visibility. Having the integrity and introspective accuracy to distinguish what one likes from what is good, useful, meaningful is vital; we do not work for ourselves but for our users. What do they want? What do they need? From what will they benefit? While answering these questions, we should hew to data, be intuitive about our users and their needs, and subject our designs to significant criticism and use before validating them.
Heiferman also feels charging has simplified everything the company does. “There’s so much good potential that can come out of just charging people for your good product,” he says. “And it’s a virus. It’s a disease. It’s contagious. It becomes person to person. It takes over. It’s a simplicity of organization. The most important thing is it lets you sleep well at night when you get to say that everything you do is for the benefit of the people, for the user. If you get to say that everything you do, every decision, and every operational thing you do is serving them, there’s a simplicity – and it’s just good for your conscience.”
As software eats the world, every sort of engineering (and indeed, every sort of profession organized along lines suggested by the physical sciences, including fields like medicine) is becoming effectively a branch of computer science
It’s been a hectic four months, and I’m so [nervously] excited that the project/company/app, Telecast, I’ve been building with the help of the fantastic team here at betaworks is finally ready for the world.
Telecast is about making Internet video watching feel as simple as turning on the TV, no matter where you are: each day, we drop fifteen minutes of carefully-chosen, personally tailored video in your lap (or iPad, as it were).
The assumption driving these kinds of design speculations is that if you embed the interface–the control surface for a technology–into our own bodily envelope, that interface will “disappear”: the technology will cease to be a separate “thing” and simply become part of that envelope. The trouble is that unlike technology, your body isn’t something you “interface” with in the first place. You’re not a little homunculus “in” your body, “driving” it around, looking out Terminator-style “through” your eyes. Your body isn’t a tool for delivering your experience: it is your experience. Merging the body with a technological control surface doesn’t magically transform the act of manipulating that surface into bodily experience. I’m not a cyborg (yet) so I can’t be sure, but I suspect the effect is more the opposite: alienating you from the direct bodily experiences you already have by turning them into technological interfaces to be manipulated.
The single most overwhelming piece of technology for the television business was the remote control. When they didn’t have to get their ass off the couch and go change the channel, it really changed the amount of control that broadcasters had … and every single step gives [the media business] less control.