Chris Kranky

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Not stupid, but useless

Chris KoehnckeChris Koehncke

The federal government USA.govwebsite proudly announced today a series mobile phone apps to make getting information from the government easier. The Washington Post quickly wrote an early on how great this is, so it must be great, right?

They spent YOUR tax dollars to develop such great apps for BOTH Blackberry and iPhone for things like a nutritional guide, what the UV index is outside, the latest in product recalls and airport security wait status. Hmmmm.

I struggled with how useful the first 3 of these were. Nutritional guide, can’t I just read the label on whatever product I’m looking at and regarding the UV index, I generally just look outside and figure, it’s sunny, it’s summer, you need sunscreen and I dare say that product recalls are not first on my list of things to urgently check. Dear lord, I hope they’re not recalling that toothpick I just used.

But wait times for airport security is a great idea. How many times have you rushed to the airport only to move thru security in 2 minutes and found yourself there in the modern day bus terminal waiting for 2 hours. Likewise, you arrive, time at a premium to find 900 TSA staff members milling around, 1 security line open while the line snakes out the door. This sound like a great application, one I could use, be proud of, call my own.

So I loaded it up, bunched in the Dulles Airport and got this display, which obviously would be great information were I at the Dulles Airport 2 days ago at 8:50 p.m. Unfortunately, it now (2 days later) and closing in on noon.

This is a prime example of why no information is better than inaccurate or simply dated information. The problem is if you read an article, as I did, loaded up the app, as I did again, the U.S. Government created the expectation that they were going to provide you with useFUL information. Instead you got this, not only useless, but worthless (a distinct difference).  Oh well, the “we’re from the government and here to help” continues to be a frightening prospect for us all.