Signal vs. Noise
It is easy to dazzle the world with catchy cliches such as â€œGetting Realâ€ and whatnot, but come on…
The goal is to find the balance that best suits you and your customers, but donâ€™t always assume more customer control is the better choice.
Is this not common sense? I am sure Adobe, Microsoft, and Macromedia have entire teams devoted to finding this “balance”. Of course, you may counter that with another catchy cliche – â€œthinking smallâ€ or whatever it was. It seems you are recycling what is already out there, rewording it, and adding a bunch of links to Basecamp and Backpack.
I am not trying to be harsh or insulting, but this blog has taken on a infomercial/sales pitch atmosphere that was not noticeable a year ago. Do you think we subscribe to this blog because we want to know how Scoble thinks 37signal is the shiznit? Chances are, we already know of Backpack, and Basecamp, and that is why we are here.
— Chuck Norris (don’t ask me) comment on SvN
New Product Launches
Been waiting for this since you talked about it in SF back in October.
what you guys need to build next is an open-ended, scaleable web-app developed using Ruby on Rails that builds peoples expectations for months reaching a crescendo just before launch day. Promise the world, of course, as the app needs to do absolutely everything yet be ultimately simple and easy to use. Donâ€™t worry about making it work for too many browsers though, as that will make customer support difficult to manage.
— Anonymous comment on SvN
The hypeâ€™ll kill you.
I just did a search on Google for “37signals writeboard” and got 1,640 results back for an application that doesn’t even exist yet. Type in “writeboard” and you get close to 6,000! With Writeboard they shot themselves in the foot a bit because this was announced a long time ago (11/2004), but other duties have taken away their time. 37signals no longer has to announce a project months/weeks beforehand because the fact that they are launching anything will build immediate buzz. Why not just wait till its ready from now on?
Basecamp and Getting Real
Basecamp and Backpack represent the future of software on the Web not just because they’re elegant, easy-to-use programs that will likely make your life better. The two applications are also interesting because they were created in a novel way, using a new programming model that allowed 37 Signals to build each program very quickly, and with very few people. Indeed, this method of creating applications — doing it fast and on a tight budget — might well be called 37 Signal’s animating philosophy, its central mission.
The community has more to blame for this than 37signals I believe. There was never any new programming model. It was done before. They definitely weren’t the first small team to create something. However, somehow we have transformed these facts into a new programming model and philosophy.
‘How does Basecamp compare with other project-management tools?’ We say it does less. Our products do less, and that’s why they’re successful. People don’t want bloated products, and constraints force us to keep our products small, and to keep them valuable.
I think what bothers me about this statement is that many times this is how 37signals speaks about people. They might not think it, but lately they seem to sound like their way is the only successful way. Half the people may like an assload of tiny 37signals products, but a lot of people like to work with Yahoo and it’s bloated products. There will never be one way to do things.
Iâ€™ve thought this since Backpack, not to mention the shameless self-praise of Basecamp, but 37 has officially jumped the shark.
I love this blog and I love your apps, but I have to sayâ€¦ Whatever happened to less is more? This is like the third thing youâ€™ve launched in a year and they all seem to overlap each other.
Soon enough youâ€™ll have to develop and launch a 5-minute wizard to help users figure out if they should use basecamp, ta-da, backpack, writeboard, etc.
— Comment made by General on SvN
Hi there fellas, any way we can tie these apps together?!!! I got a-Da lists, I got a $5 back-pack, I got a $12 basecamp and nobody talks to nobody! Now Writeboard!? Come on – add it into backpack or something! I got more sign-ins on more sites then I know what to do with!
— Ben Whitehouse
Ben, I think they call that Microsoft Passport. Not too cool. But hey, if 37 came out with something like that, it would be neat!
— Alex King
Anybody see anything wrong with this exchange? You get these type of conversations all the time on SvN. Great for 37signals, but shitty for anyone who likes to view the forest before the trees. I know it’s the way the human psyche works (you can’t hold two opposing views in your mind at once supposedly), but this just irks me. Because 37signals did one thing great, most people already assume the next thing will be great and even if it isn’t they have convinced themselves that it is already. The opposite is true as well.
This is the whole purpose of this series. Many of us have gotten to the point of where we either give a website a 10 or a 0. Why can’t we see what’s good and not so good (see that sounds much better than “bad”) about websites/apps? Why are many of us scared to use our real names, emails and urls when offering constructive criticism?
Gets the noose out…
This is my second version of this entry. The first one was much longer because I spent 25 paragraphs trying not to upset the people who are obviously going to get upset with this entry. If you have read this site long enough you know how I revere 37signals and the amount of respect I have for them. From a business standpoint what they have accomplished is spectacular and I would switch places with them in a heartbeat. I just see them as starting to head down a path I wish they wouldn’t go so I decided to include them in this series.
Many of my thoughts were already shared by others in comments around the web, but seem to get lost so I decided the best way to do this entry was by quoting them and offering my minimal thoughts.