Halifax — Luca Swan, president and founder of the Internet start-up Floof, has three bold words printed at the entrance of his company’s Halifax-area offices: “Innovate or die.”
“That pretty much sums up our design approach,” said Swan, whose company transcodes and quantifies mobile SQL interfaces as well as designing virtual SSL/IBEX-4 systems. “We’re all about what’s new, what’s fresh, what’s exciting. Did you do something one way yesterday? Already obsolete.
“Were you only presented with 18 options at noon? By dinner you’ll have 400! Choice and freshness is as important for fiber optic HTML form factors as it is for produce departments!
“Innovate or die,” repeated Swan, his left eye visibly twitching.
Floof, which has completely redesigned its user interface 11 times in the past three weeks, is part of a growing trend among startups: a complete lack of awareness of the fundamental human desire for stability. Pioneered by industry leaders such as Google and Snapchat, the trend places a high premium on “user engagement” and “experience vibrancy” while downplaying the annoying tendency among people to crave rootedness and predictability in their lives.
Jerry Growell, a 65-year-old retired linesman who spent 33 years braving wind, snow and electrocution to restore electricity to customers, dislikes this trend. His son recently installed a Floof app on his smartphone, promising that it would make his life “easier and more streamlined,” but Growell has yet to see evidence of this.
“Well just when I got used to doing it one way — press the bluish button on the left, then the white one, then the blue one again — I go in one day and it’s totally different. Now there’s like 20 little buttons and I can’t make heads or tails of it. Then next thing you know they’ll go and change it again.”
Growell, who prefers to spend the vast majority of his time pursuing fulfilling hobbies and maintaining rewarding personal connections with lifelong friends, has a particular dislike for updates.
“Every time my son tells me to install updates to make things faster and better, that means it will get slower and worse. Personally I’d like to take a hammer to the damn thing but my wife Glenda likes to look up recipes on it.”
Swan could not disagree more with Growell’s old-world, flat-Earth thinking. “People like him are part of the problem. It’s as if they think it’s a web developer’s job to make life easier for them.”
Swan then abruptly ended his interview with The Manatee by rapidly chanting “innovate or die,” apparently unconsciously, as his eye-twitch worsened.