For the last few weeks I’ve been participating in a project that involves multiple people, yet has no meetings, no rules and is a great deal of fun. The process is facilitated by real world conversation and e-mail, but it wouldn’t be so practical and so easy without blogs.

It all started back in July – August when Marc Canter suggested that Laszlo build something that bloggers could use, and Oliver Steele prototyped a laszlo blogging widget. Although Marc talked about the project on his blog and we had a few meetings about it at the office, I didn’t have a lot of time to dive in and build it. So we talked and I waited for the time that the project would appear in my schedule or get handed off to someone else.

Meanwhile Mark Davis was working on something completely different for his blog. A nav toy that could be paramterized to display a list of links. The project included one hand-painted gradient png and about a hundred lines of LZX code. Dan Lewis spotted it and handily provided some new gradients and a “powered by Laszlo” footer.

I thought it was neat and and wrote about it. Then I noticed an opportunity. I saw a small improvement that would cause me to want to put it on my blog (adding an XML config file). I set out to make that one change, then got excited and added a few others. Later that night I had morphed it into an OPML viewer. Since I was coding quickly I took out all the parameterization and hard-coded the colors.

Marc Canter sees it and e-mails me: “I want one of those – NOW! I can’t wait. What do I have to do?” Lyndon Wong tells me that he wants one too.

Meanwhile, Mark Davis has adopted a few changes but wants to keep his HTML parameterization and extolls its virtues in a hallway conversation. I realize that it would be cool to let the other folks pick their own colors, so I go ahead and put that back in.

So Canter puts my OPML viewer on his page, and Lyndon puts Mark Davis’s nav toy on his page. Now Marc has ideas of how to glue it into Topic Exchange and the PeopleAggregator.

Its latest incarnation was inspired by David Temkin’s suggestion that we should put a “view source” button right in the app so folks can easily get a glimpse of LZX, the language of Laszlo applications. Peter Andrea whipped up some art. Mark Davis came up with a name. What’s next?

We’re collaborating, but everyone is doing something different. It’s really faciliated by the fact that that we’re working with a couple of text files and some linked art assets. Each of us is doing not much work, but it builds up gradually. It seems this little project is a microcosm of what a lot of folks are doing with larger prpjects, using blogs as a communications medium for facilitating loosely connected collaboration.

I was interested using TopicExchange, so I thought I would track the history of this project so far as seen in blog posts. I dug up links to various posts and started adding them to a blogbox topic. After 6 entries, the form won’t respond. I don’t know if its just this topic or a general issue. Yet another work in progress :) I’ll check back later. In the meantime, I’ve posted the thread of conversation as html, if you are interested.

One thought on “loosely connected collaboration

  1. A friend of mine told me about this place. I love it. I will recommend you to all my friends.
    See you again next time I surf around.

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