A few months ago I shared a paranoid (yet intriguing) e-mail from “Roger” touting an invention called RoadRanter—a mobile app allowing drivers to speak from their phones directly to other cars’ radios, simply by entering the license plate number. As Roger said, there’s only so much you can say with a raised middle finger. Yesterday, Roger agreed to a chat. An edited transcript:
We’re Not Expecting Any Surprises: Is RoadRanter ready to launch?
Roger: Launch? You don’t launch an app like this, unless you want Uncle FCC ringing your mom’s doorbell. Let’s just say it’s in very limited beta.
WNEAS: And how’s it going?
Roger: I am thrilled to announce that RoadRanter v.1 was a complete failure.
WNEAS: A failure?
WNEAS: What made v.1 a failure?
Roger: Say some moron is doing 55 in the left lane on 294, so you enter his plate number and tell him, hey, knucklehead, move your slow dumb ass over. But how do you know he got the message? Maybe he moves over, maybe he looks in the mirror and flips you off. Maybe he freaks out and crashes his 2002 Dodge Neon into the median.
WNEAS: Did that happen?
Roger: I’m just sayin’. But if he doesn’t do anything, you don’t know if he got the message at all. And that’s mostly what happened. Do people not listen to FM radio anymore?
WNEAS: So what about v.2?
Roger: Have you not read The Lean Startup? You fail, you learn, you pivot. So v.2 goes straight to the other guy’s phone. And let me tell you, connecting license plate to owner to cell phone was a monster hack.
WNEAS: And if they answer the phone, you know it worked.
Roger: Who told you that?
WNEAS: Well, I just figured …
Roger: How did you get access to my documentation?
WNEAS: I didn’t, you just said …
Roger: You think I won’t come after you because you have a few hundred followers on your pathetic little blog?
WNEAS: No, I …
Roger: No, of course not, you’re a Fed. I’m such an idiot. Why don’t you just go infiltrate some NATO protest and leave me alone?
End of chat.