On Crafting Magical Experiences

The Imperative To Channel Disney and Build Delightful Experiences

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I firmly believe that the field of technology is the most exciting place to be for anyone who wants to have a significant impact on the world.

As Marc Andreessen says ‘New technologies can be thought of as giving people superpowers — superhuman abilities that humans did not have before. … For 500+ years, we’ve collectively been radically enhancing capabilities of ordinary humans through technology superpowers.’

Throughout our history, technologists have given people the ability to fly across the world in record times, exhibit superhuman strength, build homes that conquer the dangers of weather & nightfall, communicate their thoughts to people anywhere in the world, and live longer, healthier lives by pwning dangerous diseases.

As programmers, designers and tech entrepreneurs, we have the ability to bestow superpowers upon billions of people, making their lives more magical. Could there be a more fulfilling, more badass way to spend your life? I don’t believe so.

And yet when I think back to when I was younger, of all the things I’d imagined we’d have created by now, in some aspects we’ve fallen woefully short. Collectively, the tech industry has built amazing apps and communication platforms. It has helped bring about revolutions, overthrow governments, save lives, connect people, raise living standards and improve people’s lives in so many other ways.

And yet there’ve been few truly revolutionary, truly paradigm-changing, truly magical products.

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The tech industry, and specifically Silicon Valley, molds people’s lives, we know that. The things it builds fundamentally change the way people across the world live, how they travel, what they eat, where they shop, how they work, and educate themselves, and find jobs, and communicate with each other, and, most importantly, how they relate to themselves.

With such a massive impact on the lives of people all across the world, I believe that Silicon Valley has the ability to make people less cynical about the world we live in, and collectively make the world a happier, more delightful place.

How can technology possibly make people less cynical you ask? By giving them access to the opportunities and the knowledge and the superpower-like abilities that make them rethink the falsely imposed ‘limits’ of their current lives. By giving those who are determined a chance to rise above their circumstances: financially, intellectually, emotionally, physically; and realize that there are no maximas, local or global, on what they can achieve and the quality of lives they can have.

Through the experiences we build into our products, we can help people explore the world beyond the confines of their news feeds, and serendipitously discover new passions, obscure destinations, ancient forms of art, new forms of sports. We can help them discover that beyond a newsfeed full of cat pictures (no offense intended to cats, I’m all for cats), there is a world full of amazing things like Tchaikovsky’s ballet compositions, and old Chinese tea ceremonies, and breath-taking forms of dance, and exotic food recipes, and theories about how we connect to one another, and Kantian philosophies, and the intricacies of world economies, and Space-time continuums and so much more that the world has to offer.

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Technology doesn’t have to be a bad thing, the way it is portrayed in movies like Her. It can be a superpower, helping people experience the world with all the beautiful things it has to offer, it can help people educate themselves so they can live a respectable life no matter what circumstances they were born into, and discover talents and have conversations that they wouldn’t have had otherwise and, with each experience grow into their best, most beautiful, most accomplished selves. By the virtue of the products we build, we can help people discover the infinite possibilities, the magic and the goodness of the world we live in.

We can help them imagine the life they would like to live and then give them the tools they need to build that life.Eventually we can get to a society where brilliant minds from all across the world have the tools and the education to contribute to building a better world, and we can see an exponential increase in the rate of innovation.

Once we have 7 billion+ minds able to communicate with each other, explore their passions, share ideas, collaborate and work on the toughest problems of our times,we’d have better standards of living, happier, more fulfilled people, more understanding between groups, a more tolerant society with less violence, and a more homogenous culture. The world would be a much better place to live in.

That is the true superpower of the Valley and if we do it right, we can extend this superpower to the world at large, so people around the world in turn can build their own ingenious superpowers for rest of the world. It’s the #MakerRevolution, at it’s finest.

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But in order to do that, we can’t be content with incremental improvements. We just cannot have our smartest entrepreneurs building single feature apps or the 20th social network or spending their valuable time on anything that doesn’t push the envelop in big ways.We have to go after the big, really scary ideas, the kind that Paul Graham says are so fundamentally different that they threaten our identities. We need to build more of the paradigm-shifting products: the self-driving cars, the Hyperloops, the iPhones, the next big Search engines, the MakerBots, the Bitcoins, and we need to build them a lot more frequently.

It’s not just a lot harder to go after these ideas than it is to build an incremental app, building something as fundamentally different as these ideas will take every ounce of courage, skill, persistence and discipline we’ve got, it’ll challenge our fundamental beliefs, it will take over our lives, it will make us rethink everything we’ve believed in and it will push us to places we didn’t know we had it in us to go to. But if you subscribe to the guiding principle of our generation, the YOLO, ask yourself is there really any other kind of startup worth building?

When we have a chance to give the world superpowers, how can we possibly be content with giving them filters?
And we can do it! There is nothing stopping us, right now, from quitting work on our photo sharing apps, and going and building something big. Nothing.

Together, we can fill the world with truly thoughtful, truly new experiences by building into our products really delightful, never before seen UI, and envelop-pushing, really imaginative algorithms, and fascinating new kinds of devices, with delightful new ways of interacting with them. (If you want to be Lean, start by building just two of these into your product right now.)

If we do this thoughtfully, we’d graduate from being builders to being craftsmen, producing really high quality, magical experiences for our customers. We’d be more intellectually fulfilled, we’d have a more significant impact on the world, and we’d create opportunities for others to do the same. It’d be a vicious cycle of fulfilled people.

We must channel our inner Disney and our inner Steve Jobs and think about the kind of world we’d like to live in, the Star Trek/Minority Report/Tony Stark inspired utopian futures that we’d like to see realized in our lifetimes and then go and bring them to life!

The world, it seems to me is getting more cynical by the day, and yet there is a strong sense of optimism and a certain magic in the valley, the belief that a utopian future is possible if you have enough smart people willing to build it. I believe that the tech industry has the ability to infuse this optimism into the world through the products we build.

I believe that if we do it right, we can unleash the Silicon Valley optimism into the world and make it a beautiful, more magical place to live!

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[Image Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/XbYJx88fsESTS | http://disneyquoteoftheday.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Waltdisney28.jpg%5D

 

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