Parentull? Oh F******k!

Parentull? Oh F******k!

Generally, whenever I introduce Parentull to someone new - it could be a taxi driver, a business person, an academic or an average joe on the street - I'm greeted with similar questions, retorts etc. I get asked how it will work, why it's needed, how I came up with it, some people understand straight away and tell me their stories, some people suggest features but one retort in particular really fucks me off....

Usually, I'll have just finished explaining, somewhat haphazardly, I'll admit because there is a lot to cram into a short explanation, that the project I'm working on is trying to resolve family conflict and make childcare easier using examples from my own experience, adding in professionals who have backed the use cases and the ONS (Office of National Statistics) data as well - not to mention the legal issue inflaming the issue of family breakdown in the UK... to be hit with "It sounds a bit like Facebook".

Oh F******k. Not another one of these conversations. How has the baseline for any fucking piece of software in the universe been made Facebook? Does your app involve data and users? You're copying Facebook!

It's not F******king F******k. It's not F******k in the same way those asterisk's change the way the word is perceived. Do you understand? It's not the same. It has a different purpose.

The entire point of the software is different, the only similarity, the teeniest, tiniest similarity is that it enables people to send stuff to each other; but the similarities stop there. Conflating Facebook with every other app completely stunts growth of smaller apps. Oh, yes yes... I know, "Apps are so 2009" or whatever... but seriously, Facebook isn't a catch all. Neither is any other social media platform.

The target audience of Parentull shouldn't be using social media to perform the tasks Parentull enables...

In the case of functioning families, the only viable options on Zuckbook are a group chat or a group. Both of those mean endless scrolling through hundreds if not thousands of irrelevant messages or posts to find information that is needed at a point in time. If you're a parent trying to organise, distribute tasks, delegate, arrange payments and so on, such interfaces just do. not. work. They waste time, generate frustration and inevitably more irrelevant information is sent to the group/chat - usually, the same information that was sent about 20 messages ago - and that's if the kids haven't been spamming.

Much more preferable is an app that takes into account that families need to organise certain information in certain ways; like tasks for adults and children respectively and they need to be delegated. Some tasks might be repetitive (like bedroom tidying). Tasks can be made fun with family competitions - points, awards, time-limited competitions and so on. Not exactly "Facebook" features, are they? Likewise, Children's information may need to be shared with other family members. You could post that in a group/chat, but the same issue arises whereby it'll soon get lost. If that family member is 70 year old granny who is looking after the kids for the weekend, how likely is it that she's going to go trolling through Facebook messages looking for medical, dietary or other sorts of information when she could just open a specific app and have the information in front of her with one tap?

The latter is about simplicity. Facebook is offering lots of services. Parentull offers one - Simple family management.

In the case of dysfunctional families, the use case becomes a lot clearer because there's an emotional breakdown. These people do not have the capacity to remain objective and are only interested in picking fights so being connected via Facebook (or any other social media) just enables conflict to continue. You'll know or have known these people at some point in life, nothing is ever right for them. They seemingly attract drama or cause it.

Parentull isn't interested in all that. That's why Facebook exists. Parentull is interested in how to best serve the children and so for these families, it helps them reign in the conflict, gives them time to heal and put the needs of the children first.

The vision is that parents won't be posting personal updates about what they've been doing. They'll be posting about the children only. See how that focuses the conversation somewhat?

But it's more than that. I mean, Facebook is a clusterfuck of a data harvesting machine. It's risen to prominence by riding roughshod over it's users privacy and by using underhanded psychological tactics - as admitted by Sean Parker multiple times. That's why whenever you look up at the clock after browsing Facebook for a while, it's likely been longer than you think because social media is like a god damn vegas slot machine.

In the early days of Facebook, it lacked basic security features - like SSL (or "end-to-end encryption") - which resulted in it's users passwords being made available in plain text. I can remember sniffing those as a teenager on public wifi, it was very easy - within a few moments, you'd have full access to some random persons account. Since then, billions of records have been exposed in data breaches which Facebook just passes off as business as usual, though lets be honest, that's nothing compared to the graph search functionality that Facebook was planning (and did!) to roll out publicly. If you weren't familiar, graph search was NSAesque search where a user could search so specifically through Facebooks data that they could narrow down all of the single women in their friends or friends of friends, or those friends who liked certain pages or snoop on friends activity by typing a few queries. Having been able to test that out for myself, I can attest, it was fun but also creepy. Though not as creepy as the "breed ready" list kept by the Chinese Government - but there are similarities.

So, I'm sure one might understand why I take exception having not once made a decision that would compromise families privacy. A good example being when business people and potential investors suggest ways to monetize Parentull, for example, by using adverts that would sell Families information, very highly sensitive information, I tell them no because I don't care if it's £0.01 or £100,000,000,000,000. It's the principle. There are better, more ethical ways to monetize. Similarly, from the outset, I won't accept anything other than a completely secure system (ok, fine... no system is ever completely secure unless it's disconnected and locked in a bunker).... but seriously, I've worked with companies who have had some appalling security standards - and I'm not kidding, I've seen companies processing credit card and bank transactions with passwords that a cheap computer could break in less than 5 minutes.

I won't allow that for Parentull because I want to feel confident that if I put my information on the system, that it'll be secure. Until I can say that, why should customers trust it?

In conclusion, the next time someone tells you about a project they're working on, for the love of god...  Don't F******king say it sounds like F******k.