“Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine. ~Robert C. Gallagher”
Luckily for us, this Weekend Apps OpenSocial event is hosted at Google and there are no vending machines (Thank you Google and other event sponsors!).
A long chain of networking interactions brought me to this event. A week ago I added my profile to the event Wiki page and detailed some simple ideas around “playlists” I thought might be easy enough to develop. Alex, a software developer attending San Jose State University, responded with a few questions and, after a few emails discussing the application, he was on board. I also emailed a friend, Geri, about the event and she also signed up to attend and brought in another friend of hers, Carl. At the event, even before the “idea pitching phase” of the event, with a little more networking, Alex found Bemmu who joined our team. Bemmu has taken the leadership role in the development, as he is the only one of us who has written successful MySpace apps before. Friday evening, we’d “Started”.
Adapting to the situation is usually required in any significant deadline driven effort. I’d looked at the MySpace Developer resources before the weekend and, unfortunately, I was not seeing API’s to pull in the data we needed to implement my original idea. Screen scraping might be an option. Bemmu wisely suggested we “drastically simplify” the playlist rating concept to “Thumbs up” and “Thumbs down” and concentrate on the social aspects of the applications that would allow for viral growth … friends asking other friends to rate their playlists. It was fun to think about application possibilities as a group, especially after a particularly engaging speaker presentation Friday around virtual currency. But getting back to more ‘result focused’ tasks was (and still is) required to meet the Sunday afternoon deadline. Bemmu and Alex had figured out some of the data profiling workarounds by late Friday evening (no MySpace API exists yet to easily get much of the data required for even our simplified app concept). Saturday, we were able to connect with Max from MySpace who came as a speaker. MySpace is planning on introducing some APIs that would be useful to our effort, but they are not available this weekend. So now we are well into many rounds of “Adapt” and “Do”.
It’s now Sunday with 5 hours left to complete. Much of the application is now working due to Bemmu’s and Alex’s nearly non-stop marathon-like coding efforts programming into the early morning hours with only short catnaps. Geri’s expertly designed character graphics add the necessary “cute factor” to make it stick to the MySpace target demographic. There are still issues solve. I see Bemmu and Alex doing lots of problem solving, simplifying where necessary, putting some feature ideas in the realm of ‘nice to have but maybe too time consuming’ category, adjusting and moving on. Carl and I have been making some sample playlists in our MySpace accounts for testing purposes. Carl is also thinking about ways to port the app over to Facebook (not this weekend). My ‘day job’ experience is in Marketing, so I’ll be concentrating on ways to promote the application once it goes live (posting “try this new MySpace app to have friends rate your playlist” on recording artists fan pages and other forums).
Each of us participating this weekend has probably done the “Start, Adapt, Do” sequence many times this weekend. It applies at many levels, even small tasks. You start with expectations and a problem solving approach based on past experiences. Through interacting with other people, you learn new things and gain new perspectives. This changes the way you approach solving problems to have an impact. You adapt. By the time you “do” a task, especially for the 1st time, you probably have stored a few “start ideas”, “adapt strategies”, and “do skills” to access for future use. Most importantly, meeting and working with other people, you broaden your perspective, make contacts, and expand the realm of your future possibilities … and have more fun on the journey. This is proving to be a truly memorable and rewarding weekend.