Software Is a Relationship

I sometimes wonder whether software developers and vendors—even major ones like Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Adobe—fully realize the significance of this humanistic perspective.

Every software bug, every poor design, every oversight, every crash is perceived by the customer—however pettily—as an infraction, an inconsideration by the developer. When we experience these bugs daily (which we do, because we use the software daily), our frustration compounds, our trust and loyalty erodes, and we begin to consider other alternatives. Is there an analog to couples therapy between vendors and customers? Maybe the Genius Bar? Filling out that product feedback form sometimes feels like crying into the void. It’s one-sided, and in my experience, it hasn’t been effective in getting issues fixed.

Sometimes it seems that our only recourse is to choose a different software partner/platform. But what a waste, when we’ve invested so much time and money in what for decades we thought was the best thing going. Will the new platform be any better than the old one? Will we leave and invest in the new hotness, only to find out later that our old flame has changed their ways, and fixed all the issues that drove us away in the first place?

I suppose another option would be to quit computing altogether, and live simply, with one’s head fully present in the real and natural world. That seems like a radical proposal in today’s hyper-connected society. But in the interpersonal milieu, choosing to be single is perfectly viable. Why couldn’t it be so, in the world of computers and devices?