My Year in Cities, 2012
Instagram and Foursquare both recently updated a core piece of their products in a pretty dramatic way (the camera and check-in respectively). And while it’s debatable that either is really an “improvement” over their previous versions, the update strikes me as two instances in a growing trend of over-iteration in mobile apps.
As these successful products evolve (long after they saw their initial breakout growth) the talented teams behind them seem to be left with less and less to do— the primary “magic” is done and now the vision shifts to building a mature product. And because simply adding features is often regarded with such disdain (with good reason), the product teams must refine, refine, refine.
So these intelligent, ambitious designers and engineers double down on perfecting every detail, trying to find some promised land of perfect product, always just slightly out of reach. And oftentimes this is a product that may have existed a few versions before.
I’m afraid we are getting close to a breaking point with a lot of the most successful mobile apps (that continue to have active development) where their further iterations and improvements risk ruining what made them great in the first place.
Boasting expensive material possessions isn’t really anything new, but Dustin Curtis does it while framing his pursuit of these things as some admirable combination of special skill and uncompromising hardship. Stranger still, his thesis is that this is somehow the path to a liberated life. That being able to trust in the “goodness” of your material possessions will free you. Heaven forbid having to suffer the uncertainty that a dinner fork could… malfunction, when going for a bite?
But what absolutely blew me away was that the Hacker News readership seemed to agree. Or at least agree enough to not find it laughable, because it was the number one story on Hacker News for a fair amount of time.”