Unthought Known

Recently, I was listening to some music of Pearl Jam. I have a ticket to a concert, so I’m listening to the songs they recently performed live on other concerts. I stumbled on a song a never heard before, Unthought Known. Immediately, my tester mind kicked in. What does this exactly mean, unthought known. I looked it up at Wikipedia. Unthought Known is a phrase coined by Christopher Bollas in the 1980s to represent those experiences in some way known to the individual, but about which s/he is unable to think.

In my own words, I describe it as follows.

An unthought known is something we know from our past experience, but we forgot to think about it on our current assignment.

Looking back, I have had some unthought knowns.

A few years ago, I was working on a mobile app, where we were collecting items on a shopping list and determine a pick-up date to collect the items. Never experienced problems witht this feature. We decided to go live. While waiting for approval from the App store, I did some testing. I created a shopping list and I wanted to select a period to pick it up. I saw in the overview a period with a week with dates for the next year. I selected that period to obtain the calendar. The dates in the calendar for the next year where not displayed. I was not able to make an appointment in the next year to pick up my shopping items. I discovered a serious bug, a showstopper. Management was very nervous, but we succeed to have a fix in time right after the initial release.

To come back on what I have experienced. We as testers, we all know about boudaries. We know about month and year crossings on calendars. Still we forget about these things. We sometimes are not aware or triggered by this. In my case, we started testing this calendar option in the authum period. The selection window for a pick-up moment was four weeks. Every time the calendar was working fine. Except for that one situation. Testing this in september means we had to time travel with the application. You must consider this. Lesson learned the hard way.

Did you have to deal with an Unthought Known in your career?


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