Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Is this really an improvement?

One of the challenges of being involved in the creation of new products is that you have to try to figure out something that is novel, useful and in most cases an improvement. This is not a simple task. As someone who is in technology the first breakthrough is impressive, but each version become more comical. I have often described being a Product Manager on MIcrosoft Word being the worst product job in the world, since any improvement you make inevitably will make it worse. Seriously. (Brief aside for the benefit of those not in the tech world, a Product Manager is someone who defines the features and specifies an implementation of a product, they do not necessarily actually implement it. They sort of are a cross between an architect and a draftsman for features of a product). But for the sake of employment and revenue, you have to create a new version to be purchased with new whiz bang things that supposedly make things better.

This is my response to this product that I saw being given away, called the Cool Bar Master which is basically a Mr. Boston's with an LCD display screen. When does something electronic mean it will be better? You need batteries, if you throw it away it cannot be recycled. Someone once remarked that if we invented paper today it would be looked at as a huge advancement. Instantly usable. HIgh resolution. Recyclable and made of renewable resources.No power required. How cool is that.

Now, I know some Product Manager said, hey let's create an electronic guide to mixed drinks, and that person having a job is a good thing. But really why? Is this what got us into this environmental mess, improving something in a way that doesn't improve it?

So if you haven't finished your shopping consider buying things that have long value, and if they don't have long value at least will waste gracefully.


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