Zen and the Art of Mobile App Maintenance

Taken on my first outing with Instagram.

Your average mom blogger doesn’t have 17 days to ride from Minnesota to California on a motorcycle to assess the state of her life, but she does have a book that explains Robert Pirsig’s points of view. After plodding through his philosophical journey on the quest for Quality, I thought it would be fun to write a post substituting “motorcycle” for “mobile app”, just to play around. Could I produce a Quality message?


Pirsig’s book was published in 1974, when technology looked like “TV, jets and freeways”. He talks about the classical understanding of life versus the romantic understanding of life. Do you approach your day with measured reason, or spontaneous creativity? Are you more rational, or emotional? Although motorcycle riding is romantic, motorcycle maintenance is purely classic. Getting stuck too far on either side may hinder problem solving, and higher quality outcomes can result from blending the two.

Forward to 2012 and now we have TV streaming to the palms of our hands.  Sharing is the new default. Individuals can connect through text, audio, and visual data from anywhere in the world. How is society processing these hyperlinked states of existence: classically, or romantically?

The government seems to be going for classical definitions. They are scrutinizing the data, questioning the business practices, and measuring the impact of society’s “loss” of privacy.

The teenagers seem to be rejoicing with a romantic world view. Talking and sharing is natural for them, and now they can interact 24/7 through any available cell phone or wifi connection.

The parents aren’t sure yet. They’re a little stuck.

The kids have no opinion, but they are keeping busy on mobile devices while their parents try to figure it out.

The mobile app developers get it. They have a classical understanding of how the technology works, and channel their creativity into apps that make a difference. They balance  constant connectivity with its potential, and are using both points of view to figure out how the heck to market their app.

As in the book when the professor decides not to distribute letter grades, but instead has students grade their own writing to assess the quality for themselves, we similarly lack traditional metrics for “success” in a hyperconnected society, and need to define what that will look like for ourselves. It might take more than balancing two schools of thought – but a true disconnect to achieve perspective. The app developers could be the first to pull this off, if they are brave enough to mingle with insanity.

2 Replies to “Zen and the Art of Mobile App Maintenance”

  1. Wow, and a great title! There HAS to be a good book in there, somewhere.. And my mom illustrated the cover for the Hebrew edition of that English bestseller, way back when.. I should go try and find it. It was good..

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