Almost everything that I work on is a digital product. No matter how much time I spend pondering over the finer details of a design or planning out complex data structures I can never physically touch these things. They live in my computer screen. Today I got some copies of my book through from Wiley. Holding this book in my hands for the first time has made me realise how different it is to create a physical product.
I have a tendency to ship digital products early. If I have a new idea or a bug gets discovered I can quickly push an update and all is well. The iteration loop for digital products is pretty tight and it gives us web folk a lot of freedom.
This luxury is not available when it comes to physical products. A lot of the time you get just one chance to get it right. If you screw up, it lasts forever. You don’t have the ability to just push a quick update to fix a typo that has been printed in thousands of books (luckily I haven’t found one yet, but I’m sure I will). The pressure that this creates can be a little overwhelming; but at the same time I feel that it pushed me to do better work.
I really like the feeling of being able to hold in my hands something that I’ve worked on for so long. Digital is great, but it’s really no substitute for physical product.