Encyclopedias are like journalism: It’s better when they are open

It’s tempting to get nostalgic about the disappearance of the Encyclopedia Britannica’s print edition after two centuries, but as we have found with journalism, knowledge building of all kinds gets better when there are more people involved. It may be chaotic, but the result is superior.

F|R: How to Avoid Feature Creep with Your Software Apps

In my favorite movie, Wonder Boys, Prof. Grady Tripp is a writer who hasn’t had a best seller in years. His work in progress is a 1,500 page behemoth. Upon sneaking a peek at the magnum opus, one of Tripp’s most devoted students takes it upon herself to point out to the professor that some of his scenes suffer from overkill — being brought to life in such excruciating detail that they actually diminish the experience for the reader. The student accuses the professor of literary indecision.

We have a name for this in the software business, too. It’s called feature creep.

When your well-intentioned haiku of a software app turns into the Encyclopedia Britannica, you’ve lost your core focus, probably because you’ve given in to the temptation to answer this question in the affirmative, far too many times: “Wouldn’t it be great if our product did this?” Of course you want your product to be as good as it possibly can be, but the most successful applications (or literary masterpieces) actually require that you answer “No” more often than “Yes.” Read More about F|R: How to Avoid Feature Creep with Your Software Apps