The Known Software Universe

It used to be that you could get by with just a copy of Microsoft Office suite and your field’s analysis program of choice. Maybe there was another specialized tool you needed, or some type of home built piece of software owned by your organization but that was about it.

But the web has grown and slowly but surely so have our software needs.

Now maybe you need a project management tool, a document sharing service, a webinar tool, an online meeting tool, a dashboard tool, blog software, a web analytics tool, a graphics creator, a forms creator, a web survey tool, and so on and so on.

Lots of you are waiting for a piece of dominant software (or maybe a few pieces of dominant software). But they’re not going to come.

Developers can thrive (or at least survive) by creating software that focuses on being really good at something really specific. For the user, it’s both a blessing and a curse.

We need to stop waiting for the dust to settle, because it won’t. We need to learn to thrive in an environment where choice is a constant.



  1. Kathleen Lynch on June 5, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Love this! Especially the annotation “secretly written by this guy”! You’ve captured exactly how I feel whenever I read product reviews.

    • Chris Lysy on June 5, 2014 at 10:17 am

      Thanks Kathleen 🙂

      The other thing to watch for in reviews is affiliate links for every product. Basically, if the product gives out money for referrals, that product ends up rated.

  2. Ann K. Emery on June 5, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Great post Chris (as usual!).

    Another caveat: Data visualization bloggers like me get weekly requests to “review” products and write sponsored posts about how much we enjoy the product and how it’s wonderful and how our readers should purchase the product too. I choose to only recommend resources–on, during workshops, or in my writing–that I’ve learned about organically, like if another researcher or evaluator mentions casually that they found the tool useful vs. if the company spokesperson asks me check our their product. This is super important to keep in mind when reading those “top 200 data tools” posts that are everywhere on the internet. My guess: 99% of the time, the writer hasn’t even used those tools. They’re just regurgitating the text that the company spokesperson emailed to them. Surprise surprise, advertisements are everywhere.

    Bottom line: There’s a learning curve for every new tool, so be realistic about how many tools you really “need” to master. And don’t feel pressured to purchase and master every single tool in the known universe just because some company paid a blogger to tell you the tool was worth purchasing and mastering.

    • Chris Lysy on June 5, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      Good thoughts Ann, thanks for sharing.

      I’m planning to lay out my process for choosing tools next week.

      • Ann K. Emery on June 5, 2014 at 12:40 pm

        Awesome, looking forward to it.