Digital Bulimia


One of the biggest dangers for anyone working with computers and applications, is the quest for improvements and perfections. There is a constant stream of new apps which jostle for your attention and offer you all sorts of novelties and improvements. Sometimes their claims are correct and sometimes not so much. However, they would need working with for deciding if they are really what one wants or needs. In any case, they will absorb an enormous amount of your time in they process of getting to know them and in the end it is this time which counts. It is your time! You will have decide if your time is worth the effort and you will get it back by really improving your workflow. There are programs and apps which really do that. Scrivener and Ulysses for example have revolutionised the life of writers.

The ratio of creating new apps which do or try to do the same is mind-boggling. The struggle to keep away from being overwhelmed by this permanent bombardment of announcements of revolutionary novelties equally challenging and exhausting. In this roaring noise of promises one forgets altogether the two most important questions: 1) do I need this new app, and even more importantly 2) do I not have it already. I think it is no exaggeration to say that we might have already to 90 % what we need. And this particularly so, because companies like Apple for example have created applications of such a degree of integration, that we not only not need much more computing power, but what is available is well functioning and sufficient. They might lack this or the other detail or finesse, but so do others.

A little look back into the history of creation and production of software can teach us a very interesting lesson: Even big companies lose totally sight of what we need and forget, that they have been providing us with them already. Of course, that is where we touch on the central question: what actually do we need and how much of it. The question of what we need is totally overridden by the question what is technically possible and what can be done. If we look carefully, we have to acknowledge that it is what is technically possible which determines what we do, and not the question what we need. It is competition in its most basic form which determines the winner, and not quality.

There is clearly a whole bunch of professionals out there who make a living out of testing and reviewing new apps. There are not necessarily dependent on using them, they enjoy playing with them and they recommend them fort use and leave you stranded with another piece of software which you have to learn, very often to find out that they do not add much to your workflow.