Apps As Art

We seem to be on a roll again about this whole “indie is not viable” discussion. Next up, Allen Pike on Supply-Side Blues.

If you haven’t read them yet, I posted a couple other articles on this topic [see indie].

Allen’s post is spot-on with my assessment – the AppStore is becoming much like the music industry. Heck, when I was 16, I wanted to play professional saxophone. I might have actually had the chops to do it. At one point I started considering what my career outlook would have been. I noticed my saxophone teachers all had one thing in common – playing wasn’t their main source of income (or probably not; one guy played broadway shows in LA, but even that was inconsistent as shows come and go all the time). Average salaries were low.

Let’s look at another music angle. I have a family member with a reasonably good shot at making it big in the industry, but even then the sacrifice is large for an unknown, and certainly unrealized, payoff. Pick your poison – take a “real job” and do the things you love when you have time in the evenings, or go for it and make peanuts until (if) you make it big.

That’s why this whole thing is bananas. Apps are becoming art in much the way we approach music. And here’s the kicker – as indies, we LOVE to emphasize the care we put into the craft – paying attention to every detail, making it perfect. Tell me that doesn’t sound like something you’ve read on Etsy!

Friends, the gold rush is over, and we’re in this strange, mature, creative industry now. Customers expect loads of great things for free, we do it because we love it and have no expectation of making it big, and the only real money for most of us is taking that other job that actually pays. You know, that one converting CSV files for the sales team.

But you know what – it’s not going to stop me. I will keep on keepin’ on.

N00bs are OK Too

Here’s a little commentary over at CakeBaker on people apologizing for being a newbie.

On mailing lists or in private mails I sometimes read statements like “I am sorry, but I am a newbie” or “Sorry for this newbie question”. And I always wonder why do those people apologize for not being proficient?

I think the apologies come from the fact that most communities has their fair share of snarky members. Case in point: I was on IRC the other day to ask a question about a new language/framework I’m learning… it was a REALLY easy answer for the experienced developer, but for whatever reason I wasn’t sure if I fully understood the concept. Among the types of responses I received, most were fairly typical:

  • A couple genuinely helpful answers
  • The “What do you mean you don’t get it? How can you NOT understand?” type response.
  • That I should stop what I’m doing now, close the book I’m trying to learn from, and read through another book on a different subject. In this case it would be like (not the actual case) being told to stop reading the Agile Development with Rails book in favor of reading Programming Ruby 1.9.
  • The non-response – nobody responds to your request for help. Mind you, I do a lot of extra work to make the barrier to helping me as small as possible.

After my experiences, I’m not surprised that people apologize for being noobs. It’s embarrassing to be made to look like a fool in public, especially when you have to ask for help because you can’t get it on your own. Now of course, I have less sympathy for people who don’t read the documentation and at least try, but if you’ve done that and it’s still a cloudy mess in your brain, ask away.