Your App is not a Unique and Special Snowflake

Technology people will never learn that you can’t win on features alone. Any feature can be copied. And any technology can be surpassed.

Instagram stories steal snapchat, image via Techcrunch

See: Instagram Stories.

Snapchat @snapchat: That moment when Facebook comes into your house, eats your lunch, and flips your wife the bird. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

I’m only PARTIALLY writing this in response to a Brandcenter student who thinks it’s my fault she didn’t invest in Snap before shares went up last month. Of course, that’s before yesterday, when Kylie Jenner forced grandpa to keep working until he’s 80.

But mostly I’m writing this because Marco Arment, the guy that invented read-it-later services, co-founded Tumblr, and makes my favorite podcasting app, wrote some advice about [Defending your app from copies and clones){]:

The instant someone else has the same feature or design as you, the public and press see it as a collective checkbox feature, or a “standard” or “obvious” design, that apps in this category just have. It’s no longer yours.

The House That Spied on Me

Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu, at the Verge, conducted an experiment in smart home living. Kashmir tricked out her house in smart home devices, from coffee makers to beds, and Surya monitored the data being sent from the house through the internet to see what could be tracked.

Their article does a good job of bringing her experience to life; through observations and data: The House That Spied on Me.

I like to imagine that I’m going to keep my house simple and dumb for as long as possible. I don’t like creating that much data about what we do. But there will come a point where connection is a necessity for basic living. Insurance companies will expect to know about your habits. The government needs to know about your power consumption. Communicating with anyone requires a device that knows where you are.

I don’t mean to paint myself as paranoid or a luddite, but we are moving so quickly and so clumsily into this frustrating new world that it feels like no one is considering the implications of it all.

Friends and family are subjected to surveillance:

Getting a smart home means that everyone who lives or comes inside it is part of your personal panopticon.

Your behaviour changes as you’re constantly aware of being observed:

All of the anxiety you currently feel about being tracked online is going to move into your living room.

And for all of the tasks that are automated, there comes a new layer of tasks involved with maintaining the automators:

I thought the house would take care of me but instead, everything in it now had the power to ask me to do things.

At some point, the business world, or the government, or someone needs to start thinking about whether or not this is good for people. Or at least, whether or not it’s possible for people who use this stuff to even comprehend what they are trading in return for a coffee maker that can connect to Alexa.

Relevant Things Are Not Pushed At Us

iA Writer has been writing on their blog again, and it’s really good. It’s hitting on a lot of topics that I’ve been thinking about recently. Like this bit about algorithms being unable to serve up anything of real worth:

Relevant things are not pushed at us. They are not new or breaking and easily forgotten. Meaningful insights are found, and they are remembered. They can be years old but they’re never yesterday’s new, they are why-didn’t-I-know-that-already kind of insights. And they are worth re-reading. Things pushed in our stream through an algorithm tailored to our weakness are the digital equivalent of the calls that try to lure you in when you walking down a street in Bangkok. Want a Medium Massage?

Pretty insightful for an app developer. I’ve been trying to spend less time in algorithmic feeds and more time with RSS or writing here. It just feels better. And I also feel like I’m learning again.

Source: Take the Power Back – iA