Silly Punditry

I’m tired of articles that oversell a perceived lack in a software-based product by assuming that the product is the be-all and end-all of what the maker envisioned. I am thinking in particular of iPad apps. I wish I had a dime for every person who has raged at the fall of Western Civilization (or destruction of journalism) because some iPad app they are using doesn’t have a bunch of linking and social features.

Building good interactive experiences—on the web, in apps, wherever—is hard. Everyone smart who is doing this, especially with a very young device like the iPad, is adopting a “build and then iterate” strategy. To do anything else would take too long, cost too much, and still get it wrong. Get it out there with the minimum feature set to be engaging, and then revise it to do more stuff, do more interesting stuff, do stuff better.

Wish you could email a friend an article, send a link to Twitter, or even, FSM forbid, “like” it on Facebook? Awesome, send the maker of the app a request, post to Twitter, write an article on your blog, shout it on the corner if that floats your boat—and here in San Francisco it might be surprisingly effective. Hey, hit all the channels you want. But do you honestly believe that anyone making an iPad app for subscription material is already completely done with the feature set? Really?

And when Murdoch’s iPad thingy finally comes out, and it omits all that stuff by design and has no plans to add it in, please don’t complain about that, either, because how could you not see that coming?

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