Day 2 of OWOT: Pick your Poison

So here it is, 10 minutes until midnight on the second full day of One Week | One Tool. As best I can tell, I’ve been working on the project straight for the last 15 hours. And after this blog post, I will go to bed and start again at 9am. This is, I imagine, what my days will look like until Saturday, at which point I might have really tested my claims to being able to survive with small amounts of sleep.

We started this morning by reviewing all of the votes and comments left on our poll about potential ideas. As best as we can tell, we got over 90 different votes and the comments showed a real investment by members of the community. At the same time that we were reviewing these data, we were putting our own ideas to the test. In particular, we reviewed each idea for the commitment that the group felt to the idea and how achievable we thought it was, in terms of our technical skills and our timeframe. Scott “West” Kleinman led us capable through this portion of the discussion.

Panoramic view of team discussion

What struck me most about this process was how generous members of the team were in being willing to kill off the ideas that they themselves had suggested. Despite being very invested in some ideas, people voluntarily called for their ideas to be removed from the board. I think that some time away from the brainstorming helped all of us feel a bit more clear about where we were going. At the same time, the whole team was willing to listen to everyone’s concerns and pleas for a particular tool. I appreciated this especially when I re-opened discussion on an idea that had been eliminated but that I hadn’t felt I’d had a chance to make as heartfelt a plea for as I would have liked. (That’s what I get for designing Instagram filters named after all the team members.) It was collegial and while I was feeling bristly by the end of idea discussion yesterday, this was great.

Eventually we got it down to four ideas. Then there were three, and then there were two. We used a variety of winnowing processes throughout: voting for first and second choice, getting four votes to split as we want, doing simple straw polls on individual topics. The team was pretty split on the last two. But eventually we got it. We know what we’re building! I’m pleased to announce that…

A hand obstructing an image

Well. You didn’t really expect me to tell you, did you? Maybe this will help:

After lunch came the part of the day that Tom had indicated was what he felt most concerned about: the creation of the different teams for the rest of week’s work on the tool. Since OWOT is largely about process over product, it’s important that people get a chance to be engaged with a part of the project that speaks to them. We’re here to learn, after all. But, as always, at the end of the time we’re here, something has to be built and some of us have to be doing that. Others need to make sure that we have a plan in place for letting others find out about what we’ve done and making the tool easy for new users to engage with.

It turned out that sorting out teams wasn’t that difficult, and we’ve identified crosswalks between all of them. Design people move between the development and outreach team, and we’re planning for ways to make sure both teams talk with each other throughout the day and get a chance to work next to and within one another.

Outline of the teams

I’ve having the great opportunity to work with Meghan Frazer as co-project manager. It’s giving us a chance to work closely with more developers as well as think about larger directions that the tool can be taken in. I appreciate being given the chance and am already learning a lot.

The afternoon was spent working in the different teams, planning the first steps of technical development and getting our basic story of the tool straight. The outreach team created a number of user scenarios, which the dev team could then check against their technical vision. And once we were done with that—at 6pm—we broke for dinner. No rest for the weary, however, dinner was spent with the teams, planning for the next three days’ work, with a focus on morning and afternoon tomorrow. We’ve got a few big things staring us in the face, not the least of which is naming our tool. (Insert image of me twirling imaginary mustache.) The dev team has been working hard, with a number of them becoming familiar with a new development environment, framework, and language. Maybe that’s why they look so intense.

The dev team sitting around one hotel room

Follow that up with a 9:30-10:50pm project manager meeting, and you’ve got a sense of what the second day of OWOT was like. We’re gonna build something this summer, people!