Dan Mall on defeating apathy

This article first appeared in issue 231 of .net magazine – the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers.

Visit the SuperFriendly website and you encounter a mission statement: “Defeating apathy and the forces of evil”. In keeping with this mission, there’s a list of current projects that includes “a product that fundamentally changes the way conversations take place”, and “a photojournalistic site about the human condition”.

“The ‘defeating apathy’ part is about the fact that a lot of people are bored with the things we make,” SF founder Dan Mall explains. “Lots of things we make are well executed from a craft standpoint but don’t do anything to excite people. They don’t make you laugh or cry, or produce any sort of emotional response. I’m trying to avoid that kind of work. The other thing is to defeat the forces of evil. I think it’s important to leave the world a little bit better than I found it, so I’m more apt to take projects that improve someone’s life or the world.”

Mall tells us his intention in moving on from Big Spaceship was to spend more time with his newborn daughter and extended family. “It was too difficult for me to do that with a full time job. I wanted the freedom to, say, take a three hour lunch and then work until midnight. That’s difficult to do when you have a team of people depending on you, and I think it’s irresponsible to try to work on independent schedules and expect to come up with something great. When the time came to leave Big Spaceship I thought I wouldn’t find anything else I liked as much, so I decided to start my own thing.”

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