Well, Complice lulled us into complacency with all their talk of how complementary Beeminder and Complice are and now here we are. Today they’re launching micro commitment contracts; presumably tomorrow will be macro commitment contracts. And from there, all out war. Ok, no, Malcolm Ocean is back to explain why Complice’s new commitment feature is still quite complementary to Beeminder. But for the record, if Complice did ever go into more direct competition with Beeminder, we think that would be amazing.
I’ve written here before about how my app, Complice, complements Beeminder. Complice’s approach to goals is relentlessly qualitative; Beeminder’s is relentlessly quantitative. Complice uses soft accountability; Beeminder, hard accountability. And starting now: Complice has one-off commitment contracts to complement Beeminder’s ongoing commitment contracts.
It all started when a user messaged me about using the Complice API to build an integration with TaskRatchet, a to-do list app that bills users for not-done tasks. I immediately got dollar signs in my eyes and concluded I should build that into Complice itself. No, honestly, my main motivation was to implement it in a way that worked with Complice’s design principles.
One of the core principles of Complice is freshness, as opposed to staleness. You’re never burdened with your past self’s idea of what you should be doing today. You can only set intentions (Complice’s take on tasks) for today (or tomorrow, once you’re done with today) — not further into the future.
So clearly any commitment devices in Complice should work the same way. No arriving at a deadline two weeks in the future cursing your past self for committing to something that you’re totally out of touch with the purpose of now.
How it works
What I came up with was a really simple 3-step workflow where you take an intention you’ve already set for the day, and press a button (or the
$ hotkey) and then you choose:
1. What time of day you want to finish the intention by
2. How much money you want to stake on doing so
3. To accept that challenge
And then it shows up in your list clearly marked with this deadline:
How this complements Beeminder
Beeminder is a system for moving some gradual needle, measurably, over time. It’s about keeping you on track towards something via doing the same thing repeatedly.
You basically can’t use Beeminder for committing to something later today, and certainly not without committing to the same thing every day for the next week.
Complice is sort of the opposite. It’s about making progress towards what you care about long-term by freely and improvisationally doing whatever makes sense today.
So while the commitment device makes Complice look more like a Beeminder competitor, there’s almost never a situation in which you’d be choosing between the two.
They have the “pay money if you don’t do it” in common, but it’s like comparing a bike and a plane as modes of transportation; for any given trip you want to make, you almost certainly are not actually going to feel like you have a serious choice between the two.
You might think (Danny did initially) that this use of Complice or TaskRatchet displaces beeminded must-do goals but I claim it doesn’t, since Complice doesn’t have a way to force you to set such a must-do!
It has no ongoing monetary commitment, just one-offs, and always within 48 hours (usually much less) — which is in keeping with Complice’s anti-staleness philosophy. There’s no “I’ve gotta do this but I’ll set the deadline in the future so it feels less scary now but freaks me out then”. Instead it’s purely for that last minute push to say “no really, today’s the day!”
Image credit: Faire Soule-Reeves