Apps are where you interface with people in the digital world. Apps are the place that people are already at, the public places for gathering. To get the connection we’ve been blessed with from the internet, you’re forced to sign up and play by the rules of various third party app platforms. The good part is that you get to learn about friends and meet new people in these digital spaces. The bad part is that the incentives of the app platforms and individuals are completely misaligned. Under all current financial structures for social consumer apps, they want you to spend as much time as possible in their walled garden. However, as an individual, you only want to the use the app for the time where you are finding actual intimate connection and building relationships. Ideally, from an individual’s perspective, you’d be able to meet everyone where they are (this is another complication in that people you are close to can be active only on a select few different apps) while having full control of your domain and content, so that 1) you can customize the entire feel and experience of sharing your data and 2) you can avoid all the design traps these apps leverage to get you to stay inside their covered space.
I caught up with Larry, an old friend from Square, recently, and he’s been off of all social media for over a year. Besides having a phone whose battery survives multiple days without charging or other shenaniganning, he feels more calm and in the moment. Meanwhile, in our infinite pool apps, every time we get sucked into the endless feed, we need to awaken from a sort of stupor to escape. We’re stuck between choosing a never-ending, always-on firehose of information and a void, empty and silent.
This is the 59th installment in my experiment of publishing raw, lightly edited mini-essays every day towards achieving 100 public pieces. Check out the rationale and the full list here.