Held by the wings as I was taking off, that’s what it felt like when that friend of mine made his remark.
The fact is that whatever you undertake, someone will always take pleasure in pinpointing the flaws in your system or your designs. “Bottom line, what you are proposing is only that short of asking your users to change their ways, when you know that we all form habits. Your app goes against the very nature of man; it just won’t work!” Talk of a foul blow, cause that’s what this irrevocable verdict pronounced against TipMeOut, the app for the sharing of good addresses and event planning within circles of trust was.
My first reaction, apart from irritation, was to say to myself here’s a guy who, out of the 16 categories that a given user could file their good-to-share addresses under, he has retained only three or four. A guy for whom a good address is unavoidably that of a restaurant, a bar, or any joint of the same sort. It just wouldn’t occur to him to consider such categories as health & beauty, or shopping, or health, or lifestyle, or sightseeing, or art & culture … How, just tell me how could anyone make it a habit of going to the same museum or hospital?
All the same, his remark didn’t fall on deaf ears. For one because, after all, the limiting definition of a good address may very well be the most equally distributed thing in the world. Secondly, and probably most importantly, because the very notion of a habit is indeed deeply anchored in the minds of many. If only for those two reasons, his verdict would call for appeal. So I did appeal in the form of a number of insidious questions.
Do we usually form habits out of principle or for practical purposes? In the first case, can’t we at once stand by our principles and also, at times, decide to do without? And in the second case, if we choose to do something for lack of any better option, wouldn’t that precisely justify the presentation of a better option? And – let’s be rash – would it really be unrealistic to propose to someone to form the habit of … well, changing habits? After all, since everyone agrees that life will always be too short, wouldn’t one want to add some spice to it in looking onto new horizons?
And finally, my last question, the one that kills, could one really ignore the fact that behind every choice that we make, however mechanical it may be, there often are real needs that we’d better satisfy in the most appropriate ways?
Obviously, my answers are in my questions, which is why I expect anyone reading them to make their own deductions and shall provide no further explanations. I’d rather put it all into perspective and emphasize the very spirit of TipMeOut. A spirit that is contained in three notions – curiosity, expectations and exchange -, and a word that puts meaning into them – temptation.
First curiosity. I believe it is about two things: wish and aspiration. Wish is about wanting something else, like a change. It’s like someone who would take the time to think of what to wear only on a special occasion. Wanting something else is like when you try to show the best thing in you, to look your best. Aspiration is about seeking to be different from who you think you are. Like when you appreciate someone else’s lifestyle and you want to profit from that person’s ability to always find the right solutions in any situation.
An expectation is not exactly a requirement and more than a wish. Commonly speaking, an expectation is like when one anticipates good return on material or emotional investment. In that sense, it is inseparable from trust. Like when a friend recommends an address, you blindly go for it because, knowing your friend, you know it will match your expectations.
Finally exchange. It’s more like swapping – sort of potlatch – than sharing. A kind of permutation: I give you the best thing I have and you give me the best thing you have. Only the best. Wasn’t it primitive tribes that taught us about reciprocity and how it reinforces alliances and helps forge strong long-lasting links? It is what communities are built on.
Temptation is the path that takes you away from your habits and towards curiosity, expectations and exchange.
That’s the spirit of TipMeOut relating to the sharing of good addresses.
This leaves us with the other side of the app, the one that deals with event planning. But that’s for the next blog.