When you have to nail it

I used to commute by car to work, which reinforced my deep-seated loathing of being stuck in traffic.  Never mind the fact that most traffic is caused by things that seem like they shouldn’t cause a slowdown (rubbernecking).   I find it unbelievable that, with all the technology out there, we don’t consistently get traffic information to drivers in some way (GPS systems, cellphones, digital radio, you name it).  It would be hugely efficient in terms of time and gas saved, and it would make drivers unbelievably happy if we could get this right.

Which is why I want to love Google maps.  It’s free, it’s on my phone, it has traffic information.  I’ll show those car companies who’s boss!!

Or will I?

In my experience, Google maps is plagued by both false positives (it says there’s traffic and their isn’t) and false negatives (it says there isn’t traffic and there is).

If I’m honest with myself, “plagued” might mean the 20% of the time that I notice, but these misses either cause me unnecessarily to leave the highway for local roads or to stay on course only to be stuck in 90 minutes of traffic.  As far as I’m concerned this renders the product completely useless.

Google has a long tradition of beta testing products that aren’t quite done, and it most cases this works.  Even Gmail is still in beta, officially. There are a lot of products where “mostly good enough” is OK.  This isn’t one of them.

You need to know when being quick and getting it mostly right is good enough – and when it’s not.  I’d be quick and mostly right with my blog not with my website.  Quick and mostly right with email but not with a phone call.  Quick and mostly right on a panel discussion but not for a radio interview.  And never quick and mostly right when applying for a job.

So be quick most of the time, but know how to recognize the times that you either nail it or blow it.

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