Monthly Archives: January 2011

Software is Emo

It seems to me that people see software as simply a set of instructions to provide a result in a digital machine. This is true, but it’s not the entire picture. Software is also something that we interact with, every piece has it’s own soul. As developers of software we have to be cognizant of what kind of voice we are putting into our own code.

You almost have to consider the app as if you would consider a person for a job. Does it need to have a business tone, or maybe a fun tone. Does it need a pretty face, or does it need a face at all. But on top of all of this: you have to consider the creator of your application.

As a programmer, you’re given a set of instructions. How you carry out those instructions is dependent on many factors. Such as your skill-set, desire to work on the project, and your own personality.

This brings me to my point: I believe that choosing the right programmers for a project by their personality is almost as important as their skill-set. The voice, look and feel, it can all be prototyped by a designer and conceptualized by a lead/director/architect sure. But the guys actually writing the code are the ones bringing your app to life. There is only so much time that you can send back changes to “get it right”, and let’s face it: it’s never going to be just right if you don’t write it yourself.

Moral of the story? Don’t assume software is just someone you can pay to sit in a chair and type. These guys are responsible for the code AND the heart/soul of your app. Find dynamic and interesting folks that care about what you’re trying to accomplish, otherwise you’re going to end up with an app that leaves you feeling like you brought home the wrong baby from the hospital.

If you’re interest more in this stuff check out Aaron Walter, one of the guys working on MailChimp,, he’s got a lot to say about emotional software.

Why RSS (aka “non-social syndication”) is better & here to stay

Over the last two years (longer?) I’ve seen a debate pop up that usually starts with a comment like this:

RSS is dead! Long live Twitter/Facebook!

Most recently on TechCrunch (via HN). What I don’t understand is why people are missing the point of how people use social networks. The argument that “RSS is dead” centers around the twitter streams being so well curated, so they don’t need RSS Readers to deliver them content or news. Did you miss that? These people are deciding to use social networks as their means of news syndication. Doesn’t anyone else think that’s backwards?

I see two streams of content. On one side I have my social graph, all the people or companies that I think are so dang interesting I must hang on their every word. Then on the other side I have my news syndication, all the websites that I think are reliable enough to deliver enough well edited news. The way I see these two streams is oil and water. You can put them in the same bucket, but they aren’t going to mix.

Social networks may be driving more traffic than traditional article syndication, but in my opinion putting all your eggs into the social graph is folly. Consider this: when people interact with the content stream you are in, you now compete with every one of their relatives and friends that are also in that stream. Personally, I would rather someone opt-in to my content in a Reader fashion, where I’m competing with only other news, and not Granma’s new puppy, Farmville updates, or my buddy’s drunken photos. If/when content providers realize that, they will continue to push rss/email subscription over twitter followers.

“RSS is here to stay you say?” yep. It’s here to stay. Maybe it won’t be “RSS”, maybe it won’t be in a “Reader”, but people are going to continue to gravitate to a content stream that is only content, and not social. Not all of us have a “curated” social steam, or the interest to build one. Anyway someone has to find all that content in the first place. We can’t all survive on just stuff that goes “viral”. It may be an ebb and flow. But as one stream provides less quality people will move back to the other. But go away? No, never. Wane in traffic percentage? Duh, don’t be stupid.