Hype and Astrology Software
I just read an interesting article on hype at Psychotactics.com:
by Hank Friedman
and it struck a nerve because of all of the hype around astrology software.
To put it simply, every astrology software company thinks (and often says) that they have created
the easiest to use
the most powerful
the most complete
the most advanced
astrology program in the world
Of course, that's impossible, but I'd like to explore this issue with you, my readers.
Why I hate hype
Why is hype such an issue for me?
Because first and foremost I'm a practicing astrologer, and as one of the foremost experts on astrology software, I want all of my fellow astrologers to have the best and most accurate tools for our precious work, and not to be deceived by exaggerated claims.
Note: I do have compassion for those running astrology software companies because the market is pretty small for the amount of work it takes to produce a good program, and their creations really serve the astrological community.
But I don't like hyperbolic statements about their programs, nor misinformation.
Unfortunately, hype works. People believe these inflated claims, and programs that are actually outdated and deficient in many regards are erroneously perceived as the most advanced.
How can companies claim their programs are the best when they are clearly not?
For one, most companies owners avoid looking at other companies' programs, freeing them to say whatever they want without guilt (or any basis in reality).
And besides being biased towards their "baby", most of the folks creating astrology programs are techies, with little understanding of the needs of astrologers who are less familiar with computers.
I remember one program that was completely opaque to me, I didn't have a clue how to use it. After talking to its creator, I realized that it was unbelievably powerful, but its design and even the words used in its headings and menus were impossible to follow.
Because the program's author was very receptive to my feedback and support, I volunteered hundreds of hours helping him to create a much easier to use program, which serves astrologers tremendously to this day.
Unfortunately, most software authors are so deeply wedded to their own style and programming practices that they are unwilling to change.
Why it matters
Hype is incredibly influential, and misrepresentation leads astrologers to waste their time, money, and even, in some cases, their reputation on bad software. (E.g. astrologers who do entire chart readings based upon inaccurate charts due to a faulty astrology program.)
I have received innumerable emails from astrologers disappointed with the program they purchased (and the lack of support from its makers).
Maybe I'm too idealistic, but I believe that astrologers should be able to trust the descriptions of software on companies' websites, and shouldn't have to deal with major bugs or inaccuracies, or have to work so hard to customize their programs, or get stuck with software that can't do what they need.
And surprisingly, many of the most hyped programs have serious design flaws or bugs.
And because many astrologers are not very computer savvy, there's an even a greater need for ease of use and ease of learning.
Examples of Software Issues
One of the most-hyped programs, in its first release, miscalculated progressions!
Another miscalculates natal charts for births in Asia.
A third crashes frequently.
One requires navigating up to six sub-menus deep to customize settings.
Most programs' page designers won't allow you to create pages having multiple wheels or biwheels.
One software author has the reputation of never responding to bug reports.
What's the solution?
First, whenever possible, download a trial version of the program so that you can see if you like its features, interface, and overall design. If no demo version exists, take much more time to research what software to get. You can download many free demo versions here.
Secondly, watch video tutorials on YouTube or the company's website, to get a sense of the program.
Thirdly, talk to an expert (like me) who isn't wedded to just one company.
And take the claims on companies' websites with a large grain of salt.
And before buying a program, write to the company to ask questions about features that are important to you. And see how they respond.
Finally, you can test the accuracy of your software and learn much more about astrology programs by reading my very comprehensive article, "The Optimal Use of Astrology Software".
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