Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Digitizing Testers: A #PNSQC2022 Live Blog with @jarbon

I must confess, I usually smile any time I see that Jason Arbon is speaking. I may not always agree with him but I appreciate his audacity ;). 

I mean, seriously, when you see this in a tweet:

I’m sharing perhaps the craziest idea in software testing this coming Tuesday. Join us virtually, and peek at something almost embarrassingly ambitious along with several other AI testing presentations.

You know you're going to be in for a good time.

Jason Arbon 

I'm going to borrow this initial pitch verbatim:

Not everyone can be an expert in everything. Some testers are experts in a specific aspect of testing, while other testers claim to be experts. Wouldn’t it be great if the testing expert who focuses on address fields at FedEx could test your application’s address fields?  So many people attend Tariq King’s microservices and API testing tutorials–wouldn’t it be great if a virtual Tariq could test your application’s API? Jason Arbon explores a future where great testing experts are ultimately digitized and unleashed will test the world’s apps–your apps.  

Feeling a little "what the...?!!" That's the point. Why do we come to conferences? Typically it's to come and learn things from people who know a thing or three more than we do. Of course, while we may be inspired to learn something or get inspired to dig deeper, odds are we are not going to develop the same level of expertise as, say, Tariq King when it comes to using AI and ML in testing. For that matter, maybe people look to me and see me as "The Accessibility and Inclusive Design Expert" (yikes!!! if that's the case but thank you for the compliment). Still, here's the point Jason is trying to make... what if instead of learning from me about Accessibility and Inclusive Design, *I* did your Accessibility and Inclusive Design Testing? Granted, if I were a consultant in that space, maybe I could do that. However, I couldn't do that for everyone... or could I?

What if... WHAT IF... all of my writings, my presentations, my methodologies & approaches, were gathered, analyzed, and applied to some kind of business logic and data model construction. Then, by calling on all of that, you could effectively plug in all of my experience to actually test your site for Accessibility and Inclusive Design. In short, what if you could purchase "The Michael Larsen AID" testing bot and plug me into your testing scripts. Bonkers, right?! Well... here's the thing. Once upon a time, if someone were to tell me that I could effectively buy a Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier tube amp and a pair of Mesa 4x12 cabinets loaded with Celestion Vintage 30s, be able to select that as a virtual instrument and impulse controllers, and get a sound that sounds indistinguishable compared to the real thing? Ten years ago. Impossible. Today? Through Amplitube 5, I literally own that setup and it works stunningly well.

Arguably, the idea of taking what I've written about Accessibility and Inclusive Design and compartmentalizing that as a "testing persona" is probably a lot easier than creating a virtual tube amp. I'm not saying that the results would be an exact replica of what I would do while I test... but I think the virtual version of me could reliably be called upon to do what I at least have said I did or at least what I espouse when I speak. Do you like my overall philosophy? Then maybe the core of my philosophy could be written into logic so that you can have my overall philosophy applied to your application.

I confess the idea of loading up the "Michael Larsen AID" widget cracks me up a bit. For it to be effective, sure, I could go in the background and look at stuff and give you a yes/no report. However, that skips over a lot of what I hope I'm actually bringing to the table. When I talk about Accessibility and Inclusive Design, only a small part of it is my raw testing efforts. Sure, it's there and I know stuff but what I think makes me who and what I am is my advocacy and my frenetic energy of getting into people's faces and advocating about these issues. Me testing is a dime a dozen. Me advocating and explaining the pros and cons as to why your pass might actually be a fail is where I can really be of benefit. Sure, I could work in the background, but I'd rather be the present Doctor as we remember him on Star Trek: Voyager.

Thanks, Jason. This is a fun and out-there thought experiment. I must confess the thought of buying me as a "Virtual Instrument" both cracks me up and intrigues me. I'm really curious to see if something like this could really come to be. Still, I think you may be able to encapsulate and abstract my core knowledge base but I'd be surprised if you could capture my advocacy. IF you want to try, I'm game to see if I could be done ;).

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