There is something tragic about the Flappy Bird saga. The events and realities of it aren’t necessarily anything new but they showcase some of the darker sides of our industry.
Things like Twitter and the short attention span culture that grows up around it have developed a mentality where it seems perfectly acceptable to tear apart other people or their work. Over the weekend I was disheartened to see so many people I know and admire passing judgement on someone they didn’t know based on 140 character messages. Guessing the motives of anyone other than your closest friends is a fools errand, and even for them it is usually a terrible idea (just ask my friends). People are complicated, fragile and valuable. Projecting into someone else’s situation and then passing degrees on how they respond isn’t nearly as productive as projecting yourself into their situation and trying to learn for yourself.
Words have meaning and I see no clearer example of how powerful they can be than what happened to Dong Nguyen. I genuinely hope he is able to move on from this in a positive way.
Jeff Vogel’s take on this is worth a read. He comes from a background where he has had to deal with this type of interaction. While he has a variety of good points I found his observations about the role PR companies play in business very germane to this audience. The blessing and curse of being an independent is that you often interact directly with your customers. It is impossible for this to not impact you personally and emotionally. Human nature is to dwell on the negative far more than the positive. If you aren’t careful about drawing boundaries you’ll go crazy.
There are a number of more squishy lessons to learn from Flappy Bird, but there is one that is manifestly practical. Never, ever, ever share revenue numbers publicly. As soon as you throw a number out there it will be all anyone can talk about. This is a natural reaction since it is one of the only things about your unique situation that is directly comparable to theirs. That voyeuristic tendency is highly venomous. Every single article I’ve read since has thrown that number around as a core part of their justifications. Just don’t do it. While I know it can be frustrating to see y-axis without numbers or to want to learn from the experiences of others it is never a great idea, and this coming from someone who tries very hard to share my numbers, stats and results.
I published a breakdown of the impact of localizing Pedometer++. Overall it was a great success.
I’ve never really asked for iTunes reviews, it isn’t something I think is particularly important nor something I like doing. However, the quantitative side of me really wonders if it is as important as various podcast hosts say. So I’d like to conduct a little experiment. If you have time over the next week I’d love for you to write or rate the show in iTunes. You can find it here. I’m skeptical but very curious about what an influx of reviews would do. Thank you.