Less Apps, One Week In

A week ago, I came to the realization that I’d hit app overload. So I took action.

I deleted a number of apps from both my iPhone and iPad, my two primary iOS devices. The hitlist included Facebook, Twitter, MeetUp, Google Plus, Tumblr and more. In the last week, I’ve used only the web versions of Facebook and Twitter on those devices. It has felt both freeing and only slightly restrictive. To be honest, I don’t think I’m going back to the native apps.

I think I only had notifications enabled on Facebook and Twitter, and I probably used those two the most out of the deleted bunch. That said, just glancing at my home screen feels much less stressful. Every app there has provides more value than novelty. When I pop open my phone, I’m much less likely to get sucked into mindlessly browsing content, which is amazing. I now have small chunks of time for more important things.

It’s not that I think Facebook or Twitter don’t provide value. They do. They connect me with both real-life friends and online friends in a way I can’t achieve on my own. It’s more that I want to nuture and engage with those connections on my time, rather than know the second someone leaves a comment or like.

This new experiment has its faults though. My friends in town have a Facebook group that we use to coordinate events and fun stuff. A friend posted late one afternoon that he’d like to go to the movies that night. It balooned into a quick, last-minute event that I missed because I saw it too late. That likely wouldn’t have happened had I had the app, enabled with notifications.

But I still think a missing the occasional news or event is better than missing out on some of life’s little pleasures. I plan to keep this up, and see how it goes in the future. Maybe it will stick, and maybe it won’t.

App Overload

I’ve hit app overload.

I realized this when I glanced at my phone recently. I saw quite a few apps I hardly used. Turns out, people have a limit. Users are spending more time on mobile apps each year, but the number of mobile apps actually used each month hasn’t changed much over the last few years. I experienced the next level of this at a recent tech event, where I tried out a few app prototypes. I’m normally excited to try out new apps and talk to designers and developers about how they’re made, but here my interest waned.

Then this week I listened to a talk by Christian Heilmann called, A New Hope: The Web Strikes Back. In it, he dives into how the Web is catching up to apps and their abilities. It reminded me why I love working on the Web – it’s ubiquitous and open. All you need to get it is a browser, and you’re not at the mercy of anyone. Beautiful.

Inspired by wanting to use the Web more, I’ve decided to delete a lot of apps from my computers and devices. I want to only keep the ones I use at least once a week or need in certain situations (like traveling). The ones I delete, I’ll try to use its Web version – I’m looking at you Facebook. We’ll see how it goes! Delete, delete, delete.

Why I Love Working with the Web

Remy Sharp has a nice post on his blog about his love for working on the Web. It’s worth a read, and maybe even a response on your own site.

He refers to Douglas Crockford’s famous quote:

The Web is the most hostile software engineering environment imaginable.

And says:

This hostile environment is what gets me excited. That challenge of getting my page to render everywhere. Getting the code just right so that it progressively enhances so that everyone can view the page.

That is also what excites me about working on the Web. Our work here, in this medium, is ephemeral. It will carry little meaning decades from now, at least at the technical level. Better, more advanced work will eclipse it. That’s okay. My work on the Web – our work – will last because it’s open. People will learn from it, and carry that knowledge forward into their own endeavors, whether they work on the Web or not.

The Web represents this giant book that we’re all writing and learning from. Who wouldn’t get excited about that?

Ensuring a High Performing Web for the Next Billion People

Bruce Lawson gave a keynote talk recently at Velocity Conference in Amsterdam called Ensuring a High Performing Web for the Next Billion People that you should watch. He’s written a blog post discussing the talk a bit if you’d like more information.

It’s fantastic because it touches on all the parts of the Web that we know have nearly limitless potential, but that we haven’t yet figured out how to do well consistently. These are things like performance, accessibility, progressive enhancement, embracing a multi-device world and more. We have much to do, so it’s hard not to be excited about bringing the Web to a truly global audience.

The Slow Web

We become obsessed with tools and methods, very rarely looking at how these relate to the fundamental basics of web standards, accessibility and progressive enhancement. We obsess about a right way to do things as if there was one right way rather than looking at the goal; how things fit into the broader philosophy of what we do on the web and how what we write contributes to us being better at what we do.

Cole Henley in the The Slow Web, talking about the rhythm of the Web, and how and why we do what we do here.

It’s a great read, and one that has me thinking more deeply about what I do each day.

A Brief History of Web Design

Dave Shea, creator of CSS Zen Garden, gave a talk called A Brief History of Web Design that takes you through the time and space that is the first few decades of the web design.

When I watched this talk, it made me excited for the future, and wishful that I had found the Web sooner. Even thought I wasn’t one of the early bloggers, or even in web design in the early 2000s, I want that intense, personal exploration and sharing back.

How Future-Safe are Your Ideas?

Will the Big Think piece you just posted to Medium be there in 2035? That may sound like it’s very far off in the future, and who could possibly care, but if there’s any value to your writing, you should care. Having good records is how knowledge builds. If we’re constantly starting over how can we pretend to be accomplishing anything other than self-promotion? Is that enough? Don’t we need more value in our thinking?

Dave Winer asks some tough questions in How future-safe are your ideas?