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.
Even so, Netflix can’t match the quality that can be delivered via coax — not over IP — and Time Warner Cable and other incumbent providers have little incentive to enable it to do so. By installing Open Connect boxes free of charge and peering with Netflix, cable companies would basically be giving it the tools to also offer comparable picture quality. But why would they?
This article on Netflix/Time Warner’s current dispute shows a disappointing lack of understanding of how the Internet is stitched together. In a story where the heart of the matter comes down to the hard tech, I wish the author had spent a few minutes talking to an engineer before misleadingly mashing terms together.
Cable companies likely already peer with Netflix. Open Connect is not peering, it’s a caching appliance that would live inside ISPs’ networks.
"Coax" and IP are two different network layers. They are not an either/or choice and they don’t have a hell of a lot to do with the quality of content that can be delivered. (FWIW, content will be delivered via IP regardless of the physical layer, because the I stands for Internet.)
That said, Open Connect is a super interesting move by Netflix, and something I’d love to see some deeper reporting on.