Last night I opened Netflix on my old iPad. It has over 5 years of usage. There are no visible scratches or anything physical that will show its age, except for the fact that the new models look different. The battery still lasts a couple of hours while watching movies.

Apple stopped sending updates to it one year ago and, since then, only a few apps are still offering updates for this version.

Here is how the process looks like for me:

  1. I press the Netflix icon, then wait for more than 1 minute for it to load the screen where I choose the accounts
  2. After that, I click on my account and then I wait for another minute (or maybe more) for the app to load the welcome screen with my movies.
  3. Then I wait a little bit more just to make sure I can really click on the icon with the show I want to watch. Because sometimes, even if the interface is loaded, I cannot really click on any TV Show.
  4. Afterwards, I press on the episode that I want to watch and wait a little bit more, looking at the black screen. If the name of the episode loads, then I know it will work. If not, then I will need to close the app and start again.
  5. It will work eventually.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not about Netflix. It is not about Apple either. This is about IT not caring enough about the effects of consumerism or the way we use our resources.

Almost all apps on this old iPad became increasingly slow every time I upgraded them. So, on this iPad my strategy now is to stop upgrading apps and wait until I cannot use them anymore due to some API that might need to be deprecated. I understand that products need to launch new features and I enjoy them on my other iPad Pro as much as I can. But why am I being forced to quit using this old one when the hardware still works? (Rhetorical question :) )

As the hassle to use it will become greater and greater each day, I will end up quitting my old hardware and switch to a new one.

I really think we (in the IT industry) should focus more on using our resources better. Yes, cloud is cheap and easily accessible. Scaling things is cheap, and we don’t optimize how we run our apps until we are forced to do so.

Being more focused on the “how” #

I think we should start being more focused on the “how”. Innovation could also be about how efficiently our code runs, how much we can reduce the amount of power it uses, how we can achieve better results with the same hardware. We should encourage initiatives focused on improving “how things work” and initiatives which make us think about how to make our businesses and products more efficient and how to consume less resources.

Launch better products #

Launch better products is another way around this. I know that the most common advice might seem to launch many MVPs as quickly as possible and see which one sticks around. But I think we should focus more on thinking about what to launch and what kind of improvements this will bring into users’ lives and only then decide to launch it. Actually, this is the true meaning of doing customer validation - to find out what helps your customers and build exactly that.

Products which promote sustainability #

I think we should focus more of our innovation efforts into making people’s lives better and, at the same time, into having a sustainable perspective. Let us not lie to ourselves, growth for the sake of growth is not sustainable, because it means borrowing from a future which, we assume, will be a lot better than the present. We don’t know if this hypothesis will turn out to be true or not. At the same time, it is creating a competition, which looks a lot like a race to the bottom for most participants: not everybody can be the best startup/company in the world. Not everybody can put 70-80 hours per week or more into their work, for a long time, without consequences for their health and for their mindset. It is not so easy to throw money at all problems and think they will be solved only by scaling them. We really need to use IT and technology to improve our lives, but sustainability for our own society and for the environment should be placed higher on the scale of criteria used for the decision framework.

Improve your coding skills #

I think we should learn more about how the programming language we are using works, for example: what functions run slower than others. We also should learn more about algorithms, especially about the ones which are helping us achieve better results with less resources (RAM, hard disk …) Less resources mean less servers or computing power and, in the end, less energy and more improvements.

We should also change our coding guidelines to be more focused on code performance and maintainability first and then on how easy it is to read the code. Maybe there is no need to have a compromise here.

Start with quality in mind #

When you decide what startup to build, I invite you to put more effort into creating a good quality of your code from the beginning. We all know that if you start with low quality code, it will remain that way for a good part of your startup life.

Use creativity to get people more free time and healthier in a sustainable way #

We should stop implementing all kind of tricks in our products to keep the user captive, to trick him or her to use our product more. This leads to destroying our democracy, our freedoms and, in the end, it makes people more focused on believing their own happiness can happen only if others are losing something. Stop thinking about everything as being a zero-sum game. If we want to live in a breathable earth, we should focus more on making-it-together and building a bigger world good enough for most of us, instead of having only a small world which is great for just a few people.

Collaborate with people from different fields to expand your ideas #

One person alone cannot save the planet, and one domain alone cannot do it by itself. The IT industry is a wonderfully creative one, but the inspiration from various other fields can prove invaluable when it comes to finding better solutions and developing apps better suited for users and the environment alike.

Share your experiences and get involved in open source projects #

Collaboration is key in developing sustainable products. Sharing your experiences and promoting sustainability means spreading your ideas faster, to a larger number of developers, generating, in turn, a larger number of projects with the same goal. Open source projects are a great way of supporting such products and sharing ideas that work and that could make the world a better place.

In the end, we need more IT, more technology and more science to get us out of the challenges our climate started putting ahead of us and will continue to do in a faster pacing, at a bigger scale in the future. We should do our part and focus more in building sustainable products, organizations and structures, while pushing the boundaries of knowledge and while creating more fascinating products.