Taking stock

6 Oct 2011

Tags: apple, placewhisper

Today the Internet is mourning the loss of Steve Jobs, a great visionary, and someone who inspired many of us, myself included, in how we looked at technology and its relationship to the world. He certainly influenced how I’ve tried to develop products over the last half decade. But rather than dwell on the loss, the thing I’m taking from today is a reminder of why we do what we do, which I think I lost a little of over the last while, and today has been a reminder not only of that, but also that we don’t get infinite goes.

It’s almost been a year since I set up on my own to try and make something I thought was good and useful and people seemed to engage with. When I did the first version of PlaceWhisper I got some wonderful feedback and lots of encouragement, and I’d reached a place at Camvine where I’d achieved a lot and couldn’t see a way to challenge myself further in that environment, so it was time to take a big jump and work for myself and try and grow PlaceWhisper into something that would enable lots of people to make the world of location their own.

In that time I’ve worked quite a lot, and I’ve shipped a bunch of products both for myself and for others, but the grand vision I had when I left was to ship a new version of PlaceWhisper, and on that I’ve not really delivered on.

It’s quite hard to keep momentum going when you’re a team of one. I did the classic 2.0 mistake of trying to cram in everything I thought was awesome into one release. So I worked and worked and it was never quite done. I’ve done some awesome stuff, but is it really that awesome if no one uses it? Having made my big risky jump to start on this path, I got trapped into thinking everything needs to be perfect before I can make a move. For me one of the poignant quotes that’s been doing the rounds today is this one:

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

I succame to analysis paralysis, succame to fear of failure. So it’s time to fix that.

PlaceWhisper 2 is coming out, as it stands today. It’s been in the app store quietly for a little while, but I wasn’t telling anyone as I’d not figured out the perfect announcement plan, whatever that might be.

Is it what I wanted it to be? No - there’s lots more to do, and lots done that isn’t in this release as it just needs some more polish. Is it much better than what went before? Hell yes. PlaceWhisper 2 does a lot more than version one ever did, and I’m proud of that. So despite it not being what I wanted to be, it’s time to ship it, and put it in your hands. It’s not perfect, but hopefully we can work together to make it so over time.

Sitting on something is good for no one, and today’s events have helped me regain some focus on that, so thanks Steve.

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