François Chollet's "Notes to Myself on Software Engineering" is posed as reminders from Chollet to himself, but they're a really wonderful list of extremely sensible advice on how collaborative projects work, how to be a good collaborator, how to build things for other people to use, and how to collaborate with future engineers and builders who will some day want to hook things up to the thing you're making. Read the rest
The Beach Boys vs the Fat Boys in an epic grudge match. Read the rest
English Wikipedia participation peaked ten years ago and is down about 20,000 active users a month from its high point. Three big factors often get cited: deletionism, poor mobile editing options, and a lost spirit of inclusiveness. Everipedia wants to address all three with the latest attempt at an encyclopedia of everything. I spoke with co-founder Sam Kazemian about the project, which often pops up as a top search result for college-related news and people. Can they crack the code of next-gen participation? Read the rest
What happens when you offer Reddit users a large digital canvas and allow each participant to place one pixel, every few minutes, on it? You'd think it would be a mess. But somehow, in 72 hours, the canvas turned into a complex mosaic of flags, symbols, messages, and even a sepia Mona Lisa. This article from sudoscript examines this marvel of massive, remote collaboration.
Three kinds of participants emerged: Creators, Protectors, and Destroyers
The rules were simple. Each user could choose one pixel from 16 colors to place anywhere on the canvas. They could place as many pixels of as many colors as they wanted, but they had to wait a few minutes between placing each one.
Over the following 72 hours, what emerged was nothing short of miraculous. A collaborative artwork that shocked even its inventors.
From a single blank canvas, a couple simple rules and no plan, came this.
When Place was launched, with no warning, the first users started placing pixels willy-nilly, just to see what they could do. Within minutes, the first sketches appeared on Place. Crude and immature, they resembled cavemen paintings, the work of artists just stretching their wings.
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Even from that humble beginning, the Creators quickly saw that the pixels held power, and lots of potential. But working alone, they could only place one pixel every 5 or 10 minutes. Making anything more meaningful would take forever -- if someone didn't mess up their work as they were doing it. To make something bigger, they would have to work together.
Tools like Etherpad and Google Docs are transformative ways to collaborate on text (including code); I've used them in contexts as varied as making unofficial transcripts of statements at UN agencies to liveblogging conference presentations -- but they all share a weakness, which is that whomever owns the document server can see everything you're typing. Read the rest
5 Worlds is a young SFF project that's been a hard secret to keep these past years! It's a five book series, 250 pages each, full color. It has five worlds and there are five of us working together on it. The story involves an impossible quest to light these ancient beacons left behind by an older civilization of Feline gods. The heroes are Oona Lee, a clumsy practitioner of a magical dancing art, An Tzu, a little boy from the toxic slums, and Jax Amboy, a superstar athlete known to everyone in the five worlds. And as they're thrown together they and their worlds go through some surprising transformations. Read the rest
37 Signals' Jason Fried was there when the company launched Campfire, a pioneering group chat for business that made it easier for whole companies to follow each others' work; 10 years later, he's ready to talk about the ways that group chat gets in everyone's way. Read the rest