Hello! Welcome to the inaugural Week Notes! :D
I, celine, have the honor of writing this one
Here, I'll briefly go over the things the team reviewed IRL last Friday, as well as some of my current thoughts about those things (vagueest sentence ever but hopefully it's the only one lol).
We got most things done on our checklist! It was almost too easy to do, but I'm reluctant to increase the workload. I'm a firm believer in breathing room as a critical part of doing good work. Jam packing the schedule would make it hard for us to ambiently chat about other things we should build and improve. It would also stress us out (unneccesarily, imo).
I'm also reluctant to organize more structured ways for us to chat about things, for much the same reason. However, I do feel we could be more directional (?) in our conversations as they have a tendancy to wander in a sometimes frustrating way. I'd say the solution is not more structured conversation, but for us to more frequently take a step back and review the conversation we've had so far. What are we talking about? Have we agreed on anything? Have we disagreed? Have we misunderstood? I mean quite literally that every 15 minutes or so, one of says "Ok, so right now we are talking about xxx, right? And we have basically said yyy about the topic so far, right?"
We ran some spaces with other warm bodies!! It's been a long time since we've socialized the app and this is a huge deal, I'm so proud of our little baby app, it did a great job 🥰
I ran a space with just one of my best friends. It was an exceedingly simple one, where we each produced one drawing everyday for a mere three days. I also included an optional prompt for each day. I got on a call with her to onboard and while it mostly went well, I got the sense that she didn't see why she would use something like this in her day to day. It's worth noting that when I onboarded her, we didn't have discussions, notifications hadn't been styled, and the sidebar was an absolute mess. I even sent her a text message daily to simulate some sort of notification system lol. I'll also say that I made a completely blank space and invited her to it. It didn't have a README or rooms for each day or prompts (which i added after call ended). When she opened it, she wasn't sure what to do, largely because I didn't put anything in there telling her what to do.
The space was quiet, since it was just the two of us, and in the end it amounted to a total of 14 cards (6 drawings, a README, 3 prompts, and 4 comments in the form of linked cards). I'd describe it as peaceful. I actually picked up a pen and drew for the first time in weeks, and I really enjoyed it. And at the end there was a space with a handful or really cute drawings!
I made and contributed to this space as part of my actual full time job and so it's easy for me to find the time and motivation for it. However my friend, though she loves drawing much more than I do, still cheated! She uploaded two old drawings that she had done before! She told me that in doing this with me she discovered much to her dismay that she really didn't have much energy for anything after work. Even though this was a space she was excited for and wanted to do, about an activity that she LOVES, for just 30 minutes a day, and as a favor to me, a friend she really wants to support, she still lacked the motivation. Very interesting, I'll explore that a little later.
(Brendan also ran a space, but I've babbled too long about my own space T^T, I'll let him describe his in the next week notes)
We've been through many versions of asking for attention in the app. The trouble is that we want notifications to be extremely high signal, while still giving a sense that things are happening and allowing a person ways to keep a pulse on the updates. We want a person to ambiently know whats new, but we want them to pay ✨special attention✨ to the concrete actions they need to take next (reply to thier ongoing discussions, do an task, get ready for an event, etc).
In past we wanted a single system to do both. These days we're going for a more two (three?) pronged approach that I think works better.
We've implemented a pretty classic approach this week. Things glow / look different when there's new stuff in them. I worry this approach is stressful. It's not ambient enough. It makes me feel as though I've been a bad participant if I don't check everything. But it's better than nothing. Now I can see that something happened, and it makes the spaces feel more lived in!
Next week we're looking to solve the "actions i need to do" problem. We'll add some sort of quest log, unique to each person, but that anyone (but mainly a space facilitator) can add tasks to. It'll clearly explain and direct a person to what they need to do right now, and perhaps organize some things they can do later. It'll also have a very satisfying little check off animation that just makes a person feel accomplished ⭐️
Maybe one day we'll implement presence. Not just real time, but ghosts as well. If someone was there recently, you should still be able to sort of feel that presence.
Like I mentioned before, we finally started running spaces with other people! We learned a lot, but our largest hiccup we learned a lot was that people didn't seem very motivated. Our participant engagement was lower than we hoped. There are many possible reasons for this. Mostly, it seems like the participation can feel like a chore, even if it's something you willingly signed up for. We DO NOT WANT THIS AT ALL. SPACES MUST MUST MUST BE FUN 😱
Some Hypotheses as to why it feels like work:
People don't feel ownership for spaces that they're simply invited to, and someone else created.
doing stuff everyday (even if it's its just 15 minutes) feels like TOO MUCH. There's emotional labor in breaking your routine/habits everyday to do something else.
things that are very highly structured can feel very "homework-y". They may feel like they take away too much of a participant's agency for an end product that is not clearly meaningful enough.
sync interactions provide natural deadlines and social pressure to get things done (though it should be noted that these aren't ideal, and can lead to participant procrastination and stress)
its unclear what you should be doing at any given moment, and it impedes your momentum
Some solutions we're exploring
intentionally unequal particiation. A space creator works on a project, mostly solo, and at certain points, invites others to come interact with the work (feedback, co-works, etc). The creator is intrisically motivated, so we avoid that issue. The participants are given scoped, legible work to do and therefore are more likely contribute reliably.
experimenting with looser structures oriented more around a single project that participants have come up with together might combat the feeling that you are simply a participant in someone else's thing. A participant might feel more ownership around this shared idea, and thier legible role is carrying it to fruition.
reintroducing sync interactions to anchor the async activty. Weekly calls, weekend IRL meetups, these are interactions people know and maybe love! We love the async vision, but maybe providing the sync framework will make things easier for people.
make the app better at directing you in what to do next, and more fun to check regularly and interact with. Easier said than done though 🥲
In the past, I've been wary of everything's-a-card mentality. It seemed to me that it made the card too flexible. It was so generic that I didn't know what to do with it. We've moved away from that mentality, and I feel that the app is clearer because of that. However, recently we've been exploring a form of that again.
The proposal is that all the (cards, canvases, collections, and discussions) can be added to anything (the sidebar, a canvas, a collection, a discussion, attached to a card). This way you can really mold a space to the exact things you need, where you need them. You need a top level general chat? Add a discussions to the sidebar. A comment section? Add it to a card. A DM? Add it to a room shared between the two members. Is that confusing? Maybe, maybe not. We'll have to see.
I think it will be clearer if we remain strong on what each place (sidebar, room, cardview) is for.
I'm not sure how it'll turn out, but it's worth a good try!
Yes! That's the week! We added discussions, notifications, collection room types, removed prompt rooms, and reworked the sidebar to be clearer. We also ran spaces in the wild and we learned a lot about creating structure, and motivating the tired masses. And we're thinking about a brighter future, with both more direction and more flexibility.
It's looking good I think 😙