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Prototyping Weeknotes #56

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Olivier Thereaux | 14:38 UK time, Friday, 1 April 2011

Week 56 of our team's weeknotes, where Akua wrestles with a tomcat, Kat becomes addicted to one of our own prototypes, users own their data, Theo ponders and blends, a black box whirs, and things get fixed by being switched off and on again.

So, this is week 56 of our weeknotes. While not a particularly famous number, 56 happens to be the sum of six consecutive prime numbers, and the quantity (in mg) of caffeine in a cup of hot chocolate.

When asked what he did this week, Duncan sent me a humble one-liner about hooking Solr, the WatchLater API, and our demo web client. What he actually meant by that is that he pretty much wrapped our first iteration of the Watch Later project, making it available to everyone in the team through a mobile-friendly site which Kat has, it appears, become addicted to.

Kat's addiction has not made her ineffective at all, although it might be the cause for postponing that trip to the gym for another week. Not to worry however, as she's been running to and fro as usual, presenting RadioDNS to some of our colleagues in Audio and Music (with help from Sean), working out our plan for the next phase of work on RadioTag, and organising our first workshop on user-owned data, which a number of us and a few visitors from other areas of the BBC participated in.

Chris L. was one of the happy few in the user data workshop, lending his newly acquired expertise on oauth and other such technologies to the party. He has been working on oauth for radioTag, using a library he seems rather fond of. Sean, too, has been active in the RadioTag project, mainly working on the finer details of modelling RadioTag authentication and authorization.

Paul has been splitting his time between management training and code. We are not yet, officially, worried for his sanity. I was worried, however, when Akua told me she had spent most of her week fighting with a tomcat, but it turns out she was talking about our topcat CMS and her work to finish - hopefully very soon, our team's website.

On Tuesday, a mysterious black box by Theo's desk was whirring alarmingly. No-one owned up to putting it there. Theo, unfazed, focused on looking at the Interim feedback for the Mythology Engine user testing sessions and preparing for the follow-up focus groups and future work on digital narratives on the Web, planning the in-home research sessions as part of our human centered design tool, tinkering with the 3D rendering tool Blender, and finalising a blog post about the design considerations for second screens and then wrestling with the blog publishing engine. On the blog front, Tristan has also been working on a post on Watch Later.

All this writing up at the end of projects is making Theo - and others - think hard about how we can work and document better, and earlier. While we do build fast and work in short iterations, Theo is wondering how we could make our process more inclusive, getting insights earlier by watching people use our work and inviting their opinion when we define the design challenge.

We received a couple of high-profile visits through the week. Wednesday saw the visit in our office of BBC R&D's new General Manager Steve Bailey, and Thursday, the BBC's Future Media Director visited us too. Convinced that these visits were a sure sign of a complex conjunction of events with deep hidden meanings, I made a diagram of our week's work, and found it to have a striking resemblance to the caffeine molecule. And that can't be a coincidence.

Diagram of people and projects in this week's weeknotes



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