The Watch to Watch
A couple weeks ago, the New York Times reviewed the Apple Watch. A paragraph early in the article caught my attention:
First there was a day to learn the device’s initially complex user interface. Then another to determine how it could best fit it into my life. And still one more to figure out exactly what Apple’s first major new product in five years is trying to do — and, crucially, what it isn’t.
It’s worth taking a moment to recognize what’s strange here. If it takes three days to figure out why something might be useful to you, then you probably don’t need it!
In any other market, a product without a clear use case would be impossible to sell. But in the cultural distortion field of Silicon Valley, this is the new normal. They provide the hot new thing, and it’s up to you to figure out why you need it.
Start With Why, Not What
The reason this state of affairs worries me is because once you start letting other people tell you how to invest your limited time and attention, you’re almost certainly going to stray from the things you find most important.
Here, for example, is the reporter from the above article explaining his experience with the Apple Watch (once, that is, he figured out how to work it): “[it] became something like a natural extension of my body, a direct link, in a way that I’ve never felt before, from the digital world to my brain.”
For anyone trying to build (or write, or code, or paint, or plan) something of consequence, this is, to steal a line from George Packer, a truly frightening vision of the future!
But when you work backwards from what’s hot, instead of what you need, this is the type of behavior you stumble into.
The alternative here is simple: Decide what matters to you; seek out the tools that most directly and obviously help you accomplish these things; then get down to work.
Life’s too short to waste three days trying to figure out whether some shiny new gizmo might be useful.