The Quest for Information Nirvana, Part I

The Quest for Information Nirvana, Part I

I’m back from Los Angeles, where I met face-to-face for the first time with the UCLA-based investigators of Science Through Technology-Enhanced Play (aka STEP). I’m teamed-up once more as part of the learning science company Inquirium, and I’m rather excited to apply some of my game design experience in a live project involving science education. The interesting thing about STEP it’s about teaching science to much younger children, who are often thought not to have the required cognitive development for systematic thinking. However, the principle investigators (PIs) are conducting research into the use of play, supported by motion tracking and augmented reality graphics, to test the notion that collaborative storytelling may make a difference. That’s my understanding of it, anyway, as the guy who is helping implement the browser-based graphics engine as part of the Inquirium team.

I had a number of insights while I was out visiting UCLA:

  • It’s pretty cool to be in a place where there is learning and research going on all the time. The group doing the research at UCLA is a multi-disciplinary collection of experts who are trying new approaches that they are not familiar with, which is hugely exciting and challenging. Such an approach works when the involved parties can communicate easily and openly, and this has filled me with a kind of joy that I haven’t experienced in a while.

  • I was surprised to find that I wasn’t freaking out over the number of things to do. Partly that is because most of the technical issues have been resolved for this project, but also it’s that I have a new-found tolerance for my own speed of progress. In the past, I would fret about how slow I was at making progress, because the qualitative assessment was based on the expectations that I should be SUPER FAST at everything. Now, I am assessing my progress by the number of uncertainties successfully resolved every day, and am FINE with it. Patience: level up!

I’m feeling the need, though, to revisit my documentation and task tracking systems again. Each project I’m on has a different set of document stores, because each project has different knowledge storage and communication requirements. Off the top of my head, I’m using:

  • Trello, with shared boards
  • Basecamp, across multiple accounts
  • Google Docs, across multiple accounts
  • Dropbox, via shared folders with multiple people
  • nvAlt, for note-taking on the Mac
  • Sublime Text 2, on Mac and Windows, for source code management
  • Bitbucket, for internal project source code management, multiple projects
  • Github, for client-related project source code management, multiple projects
  • Scrivener, on both Mac and Windows, for longer-form journaling
  • WordPress, in network multisite configuration, for this blog and related process journals
  • Bugherd, for one client’s various projects and ticket tracking
  • Local project storage, synched between Windows and Mac via Dropbox, for each job’s static digital resources
  • Physical 9×12 notebook, for sketching

This is incredibly scattered, and a good part of my “start the project” resistance is just remembering where I’m supposed to look to find what I’m looking for.

There’s a tool called Taco that I backed through a Kickstarter campaign that integrates a lot of services together on the digital side, which I should revisit to see how it can work for me. But I think I am looking for something even more fundamental, which is a rethinking of how I store and access information.

I am at 2% reserve battery power, so more thoughts will follow later.