WTS.com Presents: Coffeeshop Eavesdropping
This is a new segment we are trying here at whatsthesitch.com, where our staff goes out to a coffee shop, listens to a stranger's conversation, and then writes an article totally shitting on whatever it is they were saying.
Four, bespectacled, pre-middle-aged men are having a meeting the table over from me at the corner café. One is a bit older, one is a bit plumper, one has shoulder length hair, another has a band of hair that extends over his lip. Despite these differences in appearance, they could all trade clothing and accessories without changing style.
Their discussion is animated enough to warrant an eavesdrop. I press pause on my iPhone but leave my earbuds in place, allowing the world in while maintaining an uninterested guise.
The men are discussing an iOS app they are developing. The way their hands often elevate above their shoulder, the way their voices crescendo, the frequency of their “Yeah!”s and “Right!”s, one would think they were creating something big.
Their idea, from what I’ve now heard, is an app that will tell you when a food truck is nearby.
Not inherently a bad idea. Perhaps if that app existed, some would use it.
But my gut reaction was basically a scoff.
Who is using this app? A person who is hungry and on-the-move, who doesn’t know where food trucks usually congregate, BUT, is interested enough in the location of these food trucks to download your app (maybe even for $0.99!!).
How often are they going to use this app? Because if they use it too much, the costumer will begin to recognize the routes food trucks usually take, and will not need the app anymore. But if they only need it once, it will get deleted quickly to remove clutter from their home screen. A specific range of usage-frequency is needed for this to be a functional app.
What else could the technology and resources you are creating be used for? I have stood outside in subzero weather waiting for the bus, only to realize I missed it. I take no responsibility, and blame it on the absence of an app that tells me the exact location of the vehicles. As accurately as Google stuff. Work on that, it doesn’t seem that different from the food trucks thing... and it could actually have a positive impact on the world as opposed to no impact at all.
We successfully put small kitchens inside of trucks, in order to bring food to where hungry people congregate, even when those places shift. Food trucks. Not a bad idea. Meant as a CONVENIENCE. Now we are going to give the customers precise tracking technology, so they can find the moving trucks...
When two parties hope to meet, there are basically three options: you come to me, I come to you, or we meet in the middle. If the ‘you’ in this scenario is the hungry person, and the ‘me’ is the restauranteur, then the first option is the classic brick-and-mortar restaurant, the second option is the food truck, and the third is this new combination food truck with a food truck app. The important difference with this analogy is that, when two parties hope to meet they generally communicate with one another directly. As opposed to some sort of a hunger-related goose-chase around town.
After some reflection, I'll add another view to the mix in addition to, “that is a really dumb, useless idea,” and, “I would use that app!”
Maybe, “Who cares what the people at the table over from you are talking about? The fact that you are listening in and publicly criticizing their idea suggests you are a cynical asshole, and a nosey one at that.”
Well shit. That might be the healthiest, most accurate take thus far. Doesn’t mean a goofy food truck app is a good idea. But, perhaps by dissing their lunch meeting I have lowered myself below those ernest men generating mediocre ideas; I’m now a man commenting on others who are generating mediocre ideas. Sigh.
The only way to redeem myself is to come up with an app idea that is as easily shat upon by a stranger. Then I will have balanced the scales and we can all get back to what we were supposed to be doing.
How about an app that tells you how long ago each sidewalk sewer grate was installed and therefore which ones to avoid stepping on? In real time, within Google Maps? Eh?
Or maybe a refrigerator app, where you can enter in items when you buy them, and it will alert you if your food will go bad soon? Or whose food is whose in a roommate situation? Oh, that exists already? Yeah, that’s a pretty good idea.
Ok, an app called, “What Word Am I Thinking About Right NOW!!” And it’s like, you type in a word and see how many other people chose the same word, or a word like it, and it has data on the most popular words each hour and within each region… Connecting people or whatever?
Here it is: an app that, based on the ambient temperature, the chance of precipitation, and what’s on your calendar for the day, will recommend a pair of socks for you to wear from a list of socks that you have told it you own… Wow. That is a bad idea for an app. Almost nobody needs that, yet, it has a few elements of an app that people may think they need.
With that, I have set things right with the world. And I think I have realized that, maybe you do have to respect a group of people willing to spend their time turning a mediocre idea into reality. We here at whatsthesitch.com can certainly relate!
So good luck to you sirs at the table next to mine. May you succeed with your uninspiring app and continue on to make other apps for years to come.