here's a few quick answers...I hope they're what you're looking for.
Let me know if you need any more information.
PS: In order to be open and transparent and to keep everyone informed
I've sent this to the price_check google group and BCC'd you to keep
your private email address private. Please feel free to send any
questions to the broader group too.
PPS: To provide some context to our price_check group - Paul is a
journalist and these questions are related to an article he may be
> * Is it hard to believe $5 million could be spent on a website that finally fails?
In terms of the traditional waterfall based "big design up front"
approach applied by most corporates today it's not surprising that $5
million was spent OR that it failed.
But I do find it hard to understand how that level of investment could
be justified in any way.
> * I take it your current project will not cost $5 million?
We are using a couple of strategies to ensure this isn't the case.
First, we're using social media to build a community of contributors.
Second, we're doing this in an agile way using Open Source tools where
possible. And we're driving it through prototypes to find out what
works before we put in the big effort to scale it.
> * if asked to design Grocery Check, how much do you think you could do it for?
Well...that's not necessarily a fair question 8)
As a community driven project this is a volunteer effort so our fixed
cost is effectively $0.
However, if our development company were to do it using similar
strategies then I'm sure we could create a working solution for
somewhere between $50k and $500k depending upon the scope. We would
also recommend only spending that level of investment to find out what
was really going to work before any further money was spent.
> * Why do you think Grocery Choice failed?
I couldn't comment on the internal development process. However, from
the outside it seemed fairly clear that it was closed down because the
supermarkets were able to convince the minister that the approach that
had been taken was not "feasible". I leave you to interpret what that
means, but it seems clear that it was a combination of political
lobbying, not enough community engagement and not a clearly demonstrable
solution. I think this really highlights the risk of waiting until the
site is "completely finished" before you roll it out...nowadays you have
to engage people throughout the whole process.
> * What is your estimated budget for price_check?
As this is a volunteer project our effective budget is $0.
> * How is price_check coming along?
We've made great progress on gaining community support and now we're
just working away on the development. Our key volunteer developers are
working on some other projects at the moment so time is a bit tight but
we're aiming to have some demonstrable tools mid October. From there we
are looking forward to throwing the development open to the broader
community and hopefully getting people to participate through a
> * Have you worked out ways to secure price data of the big supermarkets?
Yes we have. All of the supermarkets actually provide localised pricing
data through their online shopping sites. We're in the process of
validating this against the "in store" prices...however this data should
be enough for us to kick-start a really usable and useful application.
So consumers will quickly be able to compare the online prices from all
the key supermarkets for a specific product...and if they see a
different price "in store" then they can share that with other
> * Why do you think your project will succeed?
Well...no project is guaranteed success and this really is an
experiment...however there just seems to be a strong sentiment in the
community that the prices are "publicly available data" and that people
will benefit from having access to this type of information. I wish we
didn't have to spend all our spare time creating this type of
project...but a lot of people seem convinced that it's a good cause.
> * Will you look at the reasons Grocery Check failed in designing your site?
Absolutely. And we'll also respond to the results we get from our early
versions. I think that's really the key to any modern data driven
social media using web based application (wow that's a mouthful).
Nobody really knows what will work, but the community can achieve things
that a single company or organisation simply can't.
We'd really like to engage more closely with the government, CHOICE and
the supermarkets to help create something that really works. And we're
going to keep on doing that until it works 8)