What does shipping mean?

Real artists ship – Steve Jobs

We initially decided not to censor ourselves when coming up with our list of 101 projects, but it quickly became evident that we needed to answer the burning question: what does shipping really mean to us? How do we know if it’s “shipped“?

i.e. one of us might have a creative project goal to complete a quilted blanket. Without making any comment whatsoever on the creative merits of such a project, it became clear to us quickly that something like this would not qualify, as it could be completed but not set off into the world. Which is to say that in looking at which projects we had that felt ineligible, we started to define what it was that made a project eligible! We came up with this:

A project is shipped when it:

  • is made available to the public online (for sale, download or other consumption);

OR

  • has been despatched to the relevant audience (e.g. there are a couple of proposals to be sent to literary agents, publishers or producers; we have included these as they are still a major undertaking and there is a defined moment of completion of sending it out into the world for the next step to take place.

Fear of shipping

Shipping is fraught with risk and danger.

Every time you raise your hand, send an email, launch a product or make a suggestion, you’re exposing yourself to criticism. Not just criticism, but the negative consequences that come with wasting money, annoying someone in power or making a fool of yourself.

It’s no wonder we’re afraid to ship.

It’s not clear you have much choice, though. A life spent curled in a ball, hiding in the corner might seem less risky, but in fact it’s certain to lead to ennui and eventually failure.

Since you’re going to ship anyway, then, the question is: why bother indulging your fear?

In a long distance race, everyone gets tired. The winner is the runner who figures out where to put the tired, figures out how to store it away until after the race is over. Sure, he’s tired. Everyone is. That’s not the point. The point is to run.

Same thing is true for shipping, I think. Everyone is afraid. Where do you put the fear?

Seth Godin, Fear of Shipping