Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The lazy way to review a Quantified Self product

When I attend software product review meetings, there are inevitably times when I’m too busy to read or study the product specs beforehand. In a roomful of people, many of whom I’d like to impress, it’s nice to ask a few pointed questions that make it appear I’m smarter than everyone else. The guy doing the presentation — who has lived and breathed this product for weeks before showing it to me — wants feedback, good and bad, and I want to give it but because of my lack of preparation I can’t think of anything offhand. What to do?

Ask about internationalization! There will always be some aspect of the product that doesn’t work in X country. Nobody’s an expert on every culture, so odds are good that I’ll know something that will stump him. Even if he has an immediate, good answer to my questions, I’ll still look smart for having asked.

I think about this when I read published reviews of self-tracking devices. The author is on deadline, or can’t think of anything critical to say, so guess what he writes? Privacy! No product can guarantee 100% security for personal data, especially if the product has the ability to seamlessly integrate with other products, so if you’re too lazy to write something truly insightful, just say you have “concerns about privacy”. It’s an easy way to appear balanced — a bit critical of a product that’s otherwise great — without having to do your homework.

I thought about including links to specific articles, but gave up because there are so many.