Assignment 3 - Design in Community Participation

Community Participation

Since my last progress update on, I've made a lot more independent research and sketches concerning design and usability bugs that I found while using the browser widget. There are some documents that Jake has provided for me that covers all aspects of the app's UX and ideas that goes behind it, although they're on Google Drive. But the documentation is relatively thorough and I find myself having to check back and forth on the notes and my own notes to make sure that what I'm questioning hasn't already been addressed and looked at by the group. Most of my annotation work has been focused around going on different news sites and keeping track of things I would be annotating and my own notes.

I've dived into the code base here and there. While I'm much more proficient in HTML and CSS, I've had to take a little more time than I would have liked to familiarize myself with extensive use of SASS, since their CSS work relied a lot more on that structure. While I've used in the past, I feel like I still need to take the time to understand what they're doing before I go in and make changes, which is why I'm more heavily focused on sketching and understanding their design point of view and trying to understand what I hope to contribute.

One of the key things I've realized while doing the work was the barrier to introduction between myself and the rest of the group. It's not that the group is particularly unfriendly or difficult to reach, but rather I feel the barriers in my own ability to jump in and have an open discussion. I feel like this is one of the most important parts in being successful in an OSS project. I was especially inspired by Tim O'Reilly's observations on "The Architecture of Participation", especially since I connect a lot with what he's saying about projects, companies, and their tactics on encouraging particpation. He states "My main point (and one that your posting seems to agree with) is that open source is not a litmus test, but a set of heuristics about how to encourage participation and innovation." While I deal with my own struggles in opening up and allowing myself to be a participant, I tried to view's model with a critical eye in light of Tim's conversation with Adam.

Their conversation that centered around attending user groups and having a hierarchy of "second-class participants" was really interesting and definitely something I ran into a lot while searching for other projects to be a part of. While it's understandable that they want to keep the design as well-regulated as possible, it definitely had that "second-class" feel to it. so far has definitely been unlike this. Their IRC channel is open and public at all times and they have a small forum that individuals can participate in and ask questions. Their mockups documentations for mockups are all open to view, although I have not personally contributed to any of them. Overall it's been slow and intimidating for me, but I think its a matter of overcoming my own personal barriers and just jumping in.

Links - Tim O'Reilly "The Architecture of Participation" - Wiki - Mockup Index