The ‘Mom Test’
I love it! I use this idea all the time to illustrate the target audience for many government services. If my mom can’t use “it”, perhaps the service is not quite “there” yet. I bring this up because during a session during last week’s Open Government & Innovation Conference held here in DC, I heard Steve Drucker from Fig Leaf Software say that the datasets currently on Data.gov fail the “mom test.” (see this GCN article for more quotes from the session) Of course, my brain immediately went to picturing Steve’s mom (well, actually, I visualized MY mom) sitting at her computer and clicking on various links on Data.gov and trying to make any sense of what she is seeing. It was a humorous visual, if nothing else! Of course, one might argue that Steve’s mom is not the target audience for Data.gov and I would agree with that. The question is, what open government service or website DOES target our collective moms??
I personally think Data.gov is a decent enough first step on the road to open government, but, I worry that it is being positioned as more than it really is. Like it or not, Data.gov services a very small fraction of the citizens of this country, albeit, a rather loud and vocal fraction. Data is only relevant to those trained in how to analyze and synthesize it into information. In fact, I would go so far as to say that in the hands of the untrained, raw data can very easily be misinterpreted!
So, sure, let’s take a quick breath and say, something akin to ‘Step 1 is now behind us’ and get prepared for the next phase; making open government services, tools and experiences available to citizens that turn raw data into something meaningful to people, information!
Get ready mom, answers to your questions are coming!