Nonstarters: app-happy gardeners

Worst kickstarter video of the week.

A broad school of thought on Kickstarter, and in the business world at large, holds that the key to making a runaway fortune is to turn everything, everywhere, into apps.

This bandwagoning brings to mind fictional mathematician Ian Malcolm, who quips that Jurassic Park’s reckless geneticists are “so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should”.

Of course, he was talking about making a theme park full of reptilian murder titans, but I think the sentiment applies equally well to the modern entrepreneur’s quest to augment every human activity with mobile technology.

In this case, gardening. Smart Gardener Goes Mobile is an app that syncs with a person’s account on garden planning site Smartgardener.com, allowing them to take their garden plans out into the garden itself.

I’m certainly not criticising the website, which provides an admirable set of resources for clueless optimists with dreams of beetroot husbandry. It’s the “Goes Mobile” part that irritates me.

Are people’s gardens so far from their computers or their minds so atrophied that they need to take a smaller computer outside with them just to remind them of the plan?

Plus, gardening is an intrinsically physical activity. Unless you plan on stirring worm turds with your Samsung, there’s only so far you can garden with an app before you have to pocket your phone and pick up a trowel.

Perhaps, I might suggest gently, if you need your gardening to involve a smartphone in hand, it might just not be the hobby for you.

Furthermore, why a company promoting back-to-the-land ideals should talk about “leveraging custom technology to deliver completely personalized online solutions” is beyond me. This sort of insidious boardroom waft is irritating even in the context of tech startups, but seems totally alien to the world of smallscale horticulture.

Maybe it’s just because watching my tomato plants is one of the few things in my life that doesn’t require a login and password, but I just can’t feel the need for this product. Evidently, the kickstart crowd felt the same.

Photograph: smartgardener.com

By day, Fred Crawley is editor of Credit Today and Insolvency Today. By night, he reviews graphic novels for the New Statesman.

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I believe only Yvette Cooper has the breadth of support to beat Jeremy Corbyn

All the recent polling suggests Andy Burnham is losing more votes than anyone else to Jeremy Corbyn, says Diana Johnson MP.

Tom Blenkinsop MP on the New Statesman website today says he is giving his second preference to Andy Burnham as he thinks that Andy has the best chance of beating Jeremy.

This is on the basis that if Yvette goes out first all her second preferences will swing behind Andy, whereas if Andy goes out first then his second preferences, due to the broad alliance he has created behind his campaign, will all or largely switch to the other male candidate, Jeremy.

Let's take a deep breath and try and think through what will be the effect of preferential voting in the Labour leadership.

First of all, it is very difficult to know how second preferences will switch. From my telephone canvassing there is some rather interesting voting going on, but I don't accept that Tom’s analysis is correct. I have certainly picked up growing support for Yvette in recent weeks.

In fact you can argue the reverse of Tom’s analysis is true – Andy has moved further away from the centre and, as a result, his pitch to those like Tom who are supporting Liz first is now narrower. As a result, Yvette is more likely to pick up those second preferences.

Stats from the Yvette For Labour team show Yvette picking up the majority of second preferences from all candidates – from the Progress wing supporting Liz to the softer left fans of Jeremy – and Andy's supporters too. Their figures show many undecideds opting for Yvette as their first preference, as well as others choosing to switch their first preference to Yvette from one of the other candidates. It's for this reason I still believe only Yvette has the breadth of support to beat Jeremy and then to go on to win in 2020.

It's interesting that Andy has not been willing to make it clear that second preferences should go to Yvette or Liz. Yvette has been very clear that she would encourage second preferences to be for Andy or Liz.

Having watched Andy on Sky's Murnaghan show this morning, he categorically states that Labour will not get beyond first base with the electorate at a general election if we are not economically credible and that fundamentally Jeremy's economic plans do not add up. So, I am unsure why Andy is so unwilling to be clear on second preferences.

All the recent polling suggests Andy is losing more votes than anyone else to Jeremy. He trails fourth in London – where a huge proportion of our electorate is based.

So I would urge Tom to reflect more widely on who is best placed to provide the strongest opposition to the Tories, appeal to the widest group of voters and reach out to the communities we need to win back. I believe that this has to be Yvette.

The Newsnight focus group a few days ago showed that Yvette is best placed to win back those former Labour voters we will need in 2020.

Labour will pay a massive price if we ignore this.

Diana Johnson is the Labour MP for Hull North.