Friday, September 05, 2014

software and the mark of love

Once upon a time, my friend Gor said, "When you're using a software product, you can tell if the creator loves it.  If they love it, all the little details will be right."

He said this in the context of reassuring me, "You love your product, and the users will be able to tell."

I've noticed this difference, when watching Lord of the Rings movie adaptation versus Harry Potter.

There's a behind-the-scenes story about making LotR.  During the filming of Balin's tomb, an employee commented, "One of the dwarf-language writings on the wall says, 'John was here'."  The set-design people freaked out and spent hours going through the scene freeze-frame, translating every sentence from dwarf-speak to English.

Finally they went to that guy and insisted, "Show us where it says, 'John was here' in dwarf-ish!"  He then looked stricken and said, "Um, I was just joking."

Contrast this passion to Harry Potter.  The entire theme of the book is acceptance of people different from yourself.  The book keeps reiterating: don't discriminate against the giants, or the house-elves, or Muggles.  Don't hate Snape just because he's so kooky.  Don't judge a book by its cover.

Then what happens in the final movie?  There's an added scene where someone asks McGonagall, "Where should Slytherin House go?" and she says, "Put them all in the dungeon."

Just imprison an entire group of people in the dungeon for no reason?  Go against one of the core principles of the book?

Peter Jackson would never have let that happen.

Another example is that Harry and Voldemort grapple in the movie for minutes, whereas the book makes it clear that Voldemort is far more powerful but Harry wins through love and self-sacrifice.

I've remembered this through the years, and it gives me assurance when I'm working on a product.  I know that if I love it, that will shine through.  Users will be able to tell, and be more likely to love it too.


Wanda said...

The Slytherin common room was already in the dungeon. So it's not as bad as it sounds.

Anonymous said...

I guess that's why Google Lively is a such a big success.

Niniane said...

Actually it was true that users could tell that I made Google Lively with a ton of love, and it did result in a userbase that also loved it greatly. Some of them wrote to me for years afterwards.