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August 22nd, 2020
A term that flies around in business lingo and particularly the tech world is minimum viable product. This is generally the first crude iteration that can be tested in the market to see if it has any capital potential.
So what is the difference between this minimum viable product, or a first working iteration, and a demo? Is not a demo supposed to perform in the same way?
A demo is often a form of theatre. It is the semblance of an idea that others can see, feel, hear and touch - not just a description of the idea. In some cases there is no possibility for a demo. A fictional novel, for example, goes straight from idea into full execution. It’s not possible to ‘demo’ a novel, because even just an excerpt is an actual instance of the working iteration, even if an excerpt cannot be shipped.
If we were forced to fit the fictional novel as a product into the concept of a demo, we might imagine a book with a fantastic cover, expertly designed, with the title and author listed. Perhaps a small stack of these books make for an excellent photo. But if someone were to actually open the book, it would be blank, or perhaps what they’ve seen is just a beautiful and convincing dust jacket wrapped around a completely different book. That would be a demo.
A working iteration for a novel would be a first draft. This satisfies the basic function of the end goal. There is now something that can be read which honours the original idea and allows the imagination a fully informed experience for envisioning what the end product after editing and rewrites might look like.
What’s the point of sharpening the knife and cleaving difference between the concept of a ‘demo’ and a working iteration?
There’s more risk when creating a demo. Not only can the demo fool other people, but an individual can fool themselves into believing they have a good idea through the crafty theatrics of the demo . . . when in reality, the idea could still be a dud. Now, with this potentially deceptive demo, we’ve perhaps wasted time making a fantasy look real, when the time could have been devoted to an actual working product.
The first draft of chapter one might not look as flashy and impressive as product photos for a beautifully crafted book with the correct title on the cover, but one has far more substance, and it’s exactly that substance that can tell us whether this project is something we would be wise to devote more time.