“All web apps are trying to suck. They are trying to be bloated. They are trying to be unstructured. They are trying to be confusing. You are the stopgap. You are the one who stands between order and chaos. You are the sniper who must pick off every distraction, unneeded feature, and extra word that doesn’t absolutely have to be there. You must be a killer. You must say no. You must anger those who disagree with you. That is the only way to make something great.” — Matt Linderman (via inspireux)

Matt Linderman relates storytelling to software development, referencing a video interview with Ira Glass from This American Life. Failure is a big part of success. You don’t want to be making mediocre stuff. He says that killing is a big part of bringing something great to life. While the whole killing metaphor doesn’t resonate with me, I agree with his perspective on the process. For every great idea for every compelling story, you need to leave a huge amount of footage on the floor of the editing room. In software, we toss out ideas on the whiteboard, discuss and discard dozens of approaches, and experiment with quick prototypes, all so that we can release one great feature or workflow. The code that is left behind after the editing process will then be clean, internally consistent and enable the person using the software to achieve their goals smoothly and easily.

This short clip is worth watching:

2 thoughts on “stand between order and chaos

  1. I very much agree. It is not hard to create create create content of questionable worth. It is a bit harder to edit, to set up the filters (of code, photographs, songs, drawing) to find the diamonds in the rough. The process of distilling out the good stuff.

    A recent Radio Lab [0] show addressed the production of sprucing up potentially boring science-related interviews for consumption by the general public on radio shows. It makes me want to start writing on a pop computer-science book for the masses.

    [0] http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/

  2. I agree with his point but what he calls “looking for stories” also includes testing them out… going through the process and throwing out what doesn’t work.

What do you think?