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Hyperlink Together — a system for collaborative projects

Brendan | 2023-09-07
a poster featuring some famous projects born from friendly collaboration and bearing the words Projects With Friends

For the past two months, we've been experimenting, talking with many of you, and working to make Hyperlink a great place for small-scale collaborative projects.

We call this focus area "Projects with Friends":

This kind of creative collaboration — self-driven, exploratory, creative — is powerful, but hard to do well on the internet. Getting this right combines several things we're excited about: making online social experiences more human-scale; making project management feel more fun and organic; making it easy to riff and explore together.

We wrote more about our goals in our previous post. It was fun to have this more focused area to explore — and we've got a lot to show you!

When we started, we mentioned that notifications felt like one of the most pressing needs. This actually ended up as just one part of what we've come to see as a larger system…

Hyperlink Together

Let's call this system Hyperlink Together — all about doing work in concert with close collaborators; convening and communicating in a shared Space.

Here are its key parts, and how they work together:

a lighthouse saying hello to a boat sailing in in the distance

Beacon, aka push notifications

Try it! 🔬

Navigate to https://hyperlink.academy from your mobile browser.

Make sure you're logged in, then tap the settings icon on your account homepage. From here, you can enable notifications!

You'll get a notification when there are new comments or chat messages in your Spaces!

We've taken advantage of recent improvements with progressive web apps, in particular their recent support on iOS, to enable push notifications for activity in Spaces.

This makes a Space function more like a group chat — rather than having to remember to check back, you can see as soon as your collaborators add something that needs your attention.

Why it's useful:


a screenshot of Inktop, a hyperlink space for designing e-ink computers

This Space was started as a place to chat about visions for designing new e-ink computers, discussing various concepts and hardware ideas.

It includes a group chat for jamming on ideas, which was active at the beginning but initially hard to see when people posted. We hope that notifications make this kind of Space more useful for ongoing conversation.

EXAMPLE: Frames with Celine and Kelsey

a screenshot Frames with Celine and Kelsey, a hyperlink space that Celine made to organize information and updates about woodne frames she made from her friend Kelsey

Celine made this Space to share progress updates on a collaborative project with her artist friend Kelsey.

At first she had to text Kelsey separately each time to let her know she added an update to the Space; notifications make it easier to share these updates alongside the full context of the project, where clicking the notification brings you right into the relevant update with more detail.

a tin can and string telephone, with a greeting inside a speech bubble at each end.

Here, aka realtime presence

Try it! 🔬

Each Space now has a people section in the sidebar. When multiple people are in a space, you'll see their names light up in different colors. You'll also be able to find them on cards and in rooms!

We suggest planning a session to work together for an hour or two — you can even do an audio call directly in the Space!

With multiplayer presence, you can see everyone currently in a Space, and exactly where in the Space they are.

This sort of granular visibility helps you see what people are doing, which is nice for both gathering a general sense of shared energy in a Space, and focusing on doing particular things together.

Why it's useful:

EXAMPLE: Hyperlink Writing Room 2023

A screenshot of The HyperLink Writing Room, a Hyperlink space where members of the Hyperlink Team work on drafts for blog posts

With our own team "writing room" Space, we often found it easiest to work in sessions, exploring ideas in realtime and taking notes together, then asynchronously writing drafts and sharing feedback.

We're excited about the new live presence indicators making it easier to jump between different ideas and drafts together as we talk about them.

a tin can and string telephone, with a greeting inside a speech bubble at each end.

Talk, aka audio calls

Try it! 🔬

Once you're in a Space together, start or join a call from the sidebar. You can switch audio devices and mute yourself if needed.

You'll see from the member list who else is in the call with you — and with realtime presence, you can even see where in the Space they are.

If multiple people are in a Space together, you can join an audio call and seamlessly start chatting. If you recall our "hyperspace" experiments from over a year ago, we're bringing this aspect back!

It's voice only, so that you can focus on the actual things you're exploring together — looking at cards, writing, reviewing, commenting — as you chat.

Why it's useful:


a screenshot of Moldnet, a Hyperlink Space in which two friends collaborate on building a new kind of search engine

We actually joined our friends Jake and JT for a video call when they started a Space for "Mold Net", an experimental mycelial search engine, before we had calls built in.

It was very cool to peek in at a collaborative session, but we wished it were a more unified experience — we're hoping that built-in calls make Spaces feel more like a shared lab, kitchen, or café where collaborators can talk and work together.

EXAMPLE: Cycle: Projects with Friends

a screenshot of Cycle: Projects With Friends, a Hyperlink space for the Hyperlink team to manage thier last 6 weeks of work

In our shared team Space for our current cycle, we're already finding it useful to be able to chat together on daily standup calls.

We often take notes during the call, and continue to add and edit cards right after as we get into our respective work for the day.

All Together Now…

The combination of these things

help us not only work together in the moment, but also see things each other did when we check back later.

We can jam on something live, then return to review new cards and reply on our own time. Being able to blend sync and async interactions is a big part of the magic here — a social system for working together over time.

In our own work, this spans different rhythms, from day to day product work where we may do a quick check-in to start the day and then each work on different tasks, to essay writing where we have a variety of ideas taking shape over weeks and months, touching base every so often with writing sessions but also individually working on drafts.

From what we've observed, many shared projects benefit from this mix of realtime sessions for doing focused work together, and a place for projects to persist and evolve over longer periods.

Other improvements

Let's do some projects

We'd love for you to give the app a try…or another, if you played around a while back — it's now much better for doing things with other people.

First things first

Sign up for Hyperlink!

Then give it a spin:

If you give Hyperlink a try, we'd love to know — what's your top request to make this great for your collaborative projects? Email us anytime :)

Two other things that may help you get started:

Personal Onboarding

Not sure how to get started? Suffering from blank page syndrome? Schedule a call with the Hyperlink Team to talk through your project and set up your first space!

Schedule 1:1 Onboarding

Hyperlink Office Hours

Drop in and chat about project ideas, learn about Spaces and what they're good for, and find out more about Hyperlink—

Monday, Sept 18, 5-7pm ET / 2-4pm PT

RSVP for Office Hours!

PS: You Can

The image at the top of this post is actually a printable poster!

Print it at home; staple it to a bulletin board in a place you like to work; tape it to a telephone pole on your block. If you do post it somewhere… send us a photo?

You can also send it directly to a friend, along with an invite link to join a Space, if you like!

What's next?

We're excited for our next round of experiments — likely around events, sessions, scheduling, time, bringing people together to do cool things.

First, we're taking some time between cycles to do a burst of onboarding (see above!) and continue making the app better for your projects.

In a few weeks, we'll announce our next cycle. Stay tuned!