BuyPartisan app creator discusses updates, 2.0 version for 2015

By Jessica Huseman
@JessicaHuseman
Oct. 6, 2014

After a couple of days of pretty stunning media coverage (both good and bad), everyone kind of forgot about the BuyPartisan App, which let’s you scan the barcodes of your favorite products and explore the political leanings of the company behind it. But, if you kept on scanning this week, you may have noticed that information you’ve previously been able to access has disappeared. So what happened? Was the information wrong? Not quite — but kind of.

I chatted with the app’s creator, Matthew Colbert, to see what was what.

buypartisan alert“There was no misinformation in terms of [the information] we had, it was just a scan match problem that is now being corrected,” he said over the phone.

Evidently, prior to last Tuesday, if you scanned a product the app did not have in it’s database, it would redirect you to a similar company while still showing the picture of the product you scanned, leading to misleading company figures. That problem has now been corrected, and the alert to the right will pop up when you open the app to let you know only to expect the biggest companies to be in the database. For now, it’s just the Fortune 250 companies, which Colbert says are “most of the things in your average grocery store.” Just don’t go scanning any chia pudding at Whole Foods.

Which is why, despite having some faulty success scanning my favorite book of libation recipes last week, I received this notification when I scanned it under the new update:

BuyPartisan Tequila Mockingbird rescan

Sad day. Now I may never know the true political leanings of the good folks behind my literary inspired party cocktails — actually, maybe that’s better (apolitical Absinthe Shrugged, anyone?).

While I had him on the phone, I decided to see if he’d given any thought to the criticism that I levied against the app last week. In fairness, the Washington Post’s Editorial Board happened to throw out some similar barbs, so even if he hadn’t heard of this obviously well-established and hugely-followed blog I run, well, I figured he’d be familiar with the idea that a few people thought his app might pointlessly increase partisanship.

It turns out, he actually agreed with that criticism and plans on doing something about it. Don’t you love when that happens? Dialogue! It’s a wonderful thing.

He said that right now the app will only help you if you are “whether you are team blue, team red, or team I hate politics,” but, he acknowledged, “most of us aren’t that hardcore.”

“There are Democrats who are pro-life and there are Republicans who are pro-choice, and you can’t really get that full picture now,” he said. “But, in advance of the midterm elections this was an early way to get something out. We’re still in beta.”

The lack of detail, he said, was simply a function of how new the app was.

“So, even though the media swarmed it, and it’s really been wonderful, we were like ‘whoa! We aren’t ready for this yet,” he said.

He plans to fix all of this with the 2.0 version, which will be out in early 2015. He said this version will allow people to tailor their own preferences in several different issue areas and scan barcodes to see where companies stand on each of those issues individually, providing a much more nuanced view than simply “Republican, Democrat or Other.”

“This will allow you to take that individual profile you have, who you are in your head and in your heart, and allow you to be more informed on all of those issues,” he said.

Now that’s something I can get behind! I’ll look forward to downloading the app when it comes out.

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Posted by on October 6, 2014. Filed under National Politics,Recent News,Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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