It's traditional to create resolutions for the new year. I've been thinking a lot about where I want to take my work in 2014; these are some ideas.
Specifically, I want to write more for other people, following from my previous work for the likes of ZDNet, IBM DeveloperWorks and Packt Publishing. I'm also interested in guest posting on blogs and sites around the web, about the social web, #IndieWeb, open source and responsible application development.
Empower independent content creators.
How can we put independent creators on a level pegging with the world's largest media companies? One thing I've been thinking about is that 24-7 news channels are obviously not a future-facing content medium given the web, where you can look up breaking news whenever you want, wherever you want, from whomever you want, without having to wait for a newscaster to restart their 30-minute cycle. Despite the ease of the web, leaning back and watching TV (or some screen) is sometimes pleasurable. Could you create a video newscast that aggregates stories from multiple providers based on your interests and context? Google News meets CNN?
Help support niche communities on the web.
The strength of the web is that we can all publish and communicate with each other, in a variety of different media, and it can all interlink as a single, continuous mesh of conversation and information. Unfortunately, that strength has been undermined by the proliferation of data silos, which make it harder to establish these kinds of links, and also limit certain kinds of content, topics and conversation through conservative design.
There are so many things to talk about, in so many ways, and by limiting ourselves to the platforms that the likes of Facebook provide, and by funneling the value generated by our communities to those sites, we're not using the web to its full potential. I want to help support the full range of communities on the web, and help them be self-sustaining, so that the people who create safe spaces for niche topics can continue to maintain them.
Idno is certainly a part of this idea, and I will continue to develop it as a first-class social publishing platform for both groups and individuals.
Figure out open source for designers.
Open source software suffers by treating designers like second-class citizens.
The open source process for programmers is well-established: we have many different flavors of version control, and the tools that surround them are first-class. I'm as happy as I've ever been working with Git, and software like GitHub and GitLab.
Working with design media is harder. Not only is it hard to represent visual changes using version control, and manage them in a sensible way using our project management tools, but even the accepted file formats for design work are closed. Photoshop comps are the norm, and UX wireframes often use closed software like Omnigraffle. That's because those tools are absolutely the best ones for the job, but standardizing on those formats make it harder to build open tools for design collaboration. And even with this aside, issue trackers are all written with source code in mind.
Collectively, this all means that welcoming designers into an open source community is extremely difficult. Nonetheless, design is an extremely significant part of any software project. It's worth thinking about the first steps towards making this easier.
It's hard to share from, eg, the Twitter app to my own website, whether it's based on Idno or something else. I'm planning on building a shim that allows me to do that more easily, based on Android's share dialog. But there's more to do. There are ways to take ostensibly closed platforms and find ways to pry them open. For example, functionality to share closed content by email can be used to integrate directly into other, open software. Other integrations are possible, exploiting "growth hacking" features designed to find more people to lock into these platforms.
Work from everywhere.
I've still never been to Seattle. Or Tokyo. Or Melbourne. And it's been too long since I was in London, or Oxford, or Edinburgh. I want to travel more, and use the fact that I can work anywhere there's an Internet connection - and that I am not responsible for a family at this stage in my life - to see more of the world.
If you'd be willing to host me at your office for a few days, wherever you are in the world, let me know!