Question 76 of 365: How can we demonstrate progress?

Time Machine
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My daughter has decided to start screaming every time she goes into her room for a nap or bedtime. It isn’t that she doesn’t want to be there, it is just that it wasn’t completely on her terms. And, doing things on her terms is everything. As any parent of a three year old knows, control is the name of the game (every game).

And yet, we are making progress. I know that she understands just how much she can push before Time Out happens. I know that she is slowly starting to figure out the expectations that my wife and I have for her. Even if it is sometimes hard to see, the progress is there. She is an older, wiser, more interesting person every single day. She has good days and bad in terms of what she needs to control, but more often than not, I feel a progression is in effect. We are heading toward figuring everything out, toward co-pilot status.

Anyone on the outside, however, would probably not see the progress. Anyone who observes us out at a restaurant would see that snapshot in time and consider my daughter to be unruly at any given moment. I have become frustrated when I too can no longer see the progression. When I lose sight of the trajectory toward better behavior, I get angry with her. When she says my name for the 40th time when I am trying to put her back to bed, I use a voice that is much louder than it should be and I say “WHAT?” as if I don’t really care what she needs. This frustration shows my lack of understanding in those moments that progress is being made.

And that is the way I feel about many big projects I work on (non-child related). I get so wrapped up in them and so frustrated in the minutiae that I can’t see that we are making progress. I get so caught up in what other people are seeing as progress that I can’t take stock of what conversations are actually going to lead me to success.

I think that the biggest problem is in not being able to lay out a progression for others, not being able to take concrete enough snap shots so that I can always get a glimpse of where I have been and where I am headed. I want something that will allow me to not only chronicle everything that has been done as I would in saving documents or creating a great wiki of all of my ideas. I would like something that does a full on save state of my brain (or of my daughter’s mood and disposition toward authority) so that I can explore each part of it and see how each idea and part of the project developed. I want the ability to do a Apple Time Machine effect for my projects, where I get to go back to that moment in time and figure out just what made it so successful.

Which is, I guess what I am trying to do with Open Spokes. I’m trying to give people the ability to record videos of their ideas as they occur and then iterate off of them. I guess I am working to create a platform for exposing progression and learning. I’m designing the space for progress to become concrete.

And in that sense, I want to take what is great about blogs: regular posting with the ability to see what has come before, hyperlinking, and creating new ideas.

I want to take what is great about podcasts and vlogs: Reflection, ease of use, and conversations had in natural voice.

I want to take what is great about wikis: Collection of knowledge, editing and revision, branching off into new areas as you uncover them.

But, I want it all to be seamless. I want everyone to be able to participate without needing to know how to collaborate. I want Open Spokes to be the place where I could actually brainstorm solutions with my three year old daughter about her defiance over time. I want it to be the place that my projects can get answers for why they seem stalled or uninspired. I want to see progress, always.

And I think that is where we are headed.

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  1. In the words of Tina Fey, “I want to go to there.”
    When I use gapminder.org (and I use it more than I should admit) one of my favorite things to do is click a country at random and then watch as it progresses. Usually, I start with India – my unofficial barometer – and then move on to others. It paints a picture of the truth of where things have come. In essence, countries are ideas. Those who have been around longest may not seem as such. Living here, though, I'm quite cognizant of our idea status. A group of folks got together and decided to try something. I like that.
    Gapminder gives me the chance to watch those ideas as they progress through time. I like that. I like going through and postulating on what made an idea a failure in one annual iteration, but a success decades later. It fascinates me.
    This is the facet of Open Spokes that will fascinate me. I won't so much be wrapped up in the iterations of my own ideas, but in the iterations of the ideas of others. By watching other people think, by watching their ideas grow and shrink and evolve and whither and all, I'll get other, totally unrelated ideas. I like that. I like the idea of watching ideas grow.

  2. Countries are ideas, as are people sometimes. I think that was a lot of my
    point with talking about Isabelle in the post. She is an idea that had a
    beginning and continues to grow. To the greatest extent, she is the easiest
    way for me to be a voyeur and watch an idea grow.

    I agree that watching an idea iterate should be something we can do quite
    easily. In fact, I would consider making it our national pastime, if we ever
    got it down well enough. I feel as though we are looking for the story of
    any given idea as much as the idea itself. The story and the process of
    creating it is why we connect with it. It is why we dive so deeply into bad
    ideas… sometimes the story is just that good.

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