Random thoughts on most things from A. M. Craig.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Rebuttal: We're ALWAYS in Beta

This is a response to a post from a friend of mine, who is reticent to fully integrate and rely on social media tools that aren't "finished".

See his post here.

My response is below, with a few changes from the original email (if I'm publishing this, I have to clean it up a bit.

I can't comment on your blog. Is commenting enabled, or am I just missing something? 
SO, I'll email you instead. 
Social media has not only developed rapidly, it will always develop rapidly. Cloud software doesn't have to wait for manufacturing or supplies or distribution. It's just code. Companies like facebook, Google, and twitter employ lots of fulltime coders to do that, all day every day. They're always building, always expanding, always changing. 
Have you noticed that facebook changes their interface ever few months? People put up a fuss for a bit, but then they get used to it and move on. The fussiness period is even getting shorter as users become used to this, as they get accustomed to the fact that we will always be in beta. 
Any company that hopes to stay ahead in the social web, an industry that is direct to a huge base of consumers, and with so much competition, is going to have to always be improving, always updating, always adding, always innovating. 
Part of the magic of Apple is that they actually can release a "finished" product. Everybody else is breaking their necks just to get the latest thing out the door. The culture they've fostered of absolute secrecy is vital in that, or people might catch up to them before they actually release the newest product. 
It's also important for them to withhold some features that other companies would have just released. If they don't have something %100 there, they hang on to it till they do. That's why the iPhone got copy/paste ability after EVERY other phone on the market. That's why the next iPhone won't have 4G. The network isn't totally reliable yet, so they're waiting till it is. 
If the pragmatists want to wait for a "finished" social media, they'll be waiting forever (or buying an Apple product that will soon be eclipsed by their next release). For most consumer tech, it's never finished. That's even a line in the movie The Social Network.
M: It won't be finished. That's the point. The way fashion's never finished. 
E: What? 
M: Fashion, fashion is never finished. 
I think there are probably a lot of people who will be waiting forever. 
The muddled mess has utility, though. Despite not being plug and play, it's very usable, and extremely valuable to those willing and able to get into the disarray that is the social web, with all it's tools and widgets, and cobble together something that creates value. It's like walking into a disorganized garage. There are tools and parts everywhere, some better than others, some expensive and some dimestore fare. But you're going to have to organize it yourself, after you decide what to build. 
To stay relevant, services have to adapt. If they don't, they're made obsolete by competition, by those who do adapt. Somebody else in the garage will make a better machine. So, keep adapting. 
As per the always in beta comment, it makes it kinda' ironic that I couldn't comment on the blog.