Rappathon Hacking for a Change

I wanted to share my recent experience I had last week at RAPP’s Rappathon: Hacking for a Change. Last month I attended my usual Digital Dumbo event and was approached by someone about checking out this upcoming hackathon event, and being the person that I am; I’m always looking for the next opportunity to challenge myself, collaborate and learn. So I reached out and was given a brief two days before the event that laid out 5 problem areas in that we as attendees would need to solve.

Check out the brief here: Rappathon Social Media Week Brief

We were encouraged to come up with ideas prior to attending and I thought to address the problem of “How can we eliminate the barriers to adopt alternative forms of transportation such as bicycles”. My idea consisted of a mobile app which empowers and educates people on the choices they choose and the impact those decisions have not just on ourselves but our environment as well. Now known as comoti. The idea was to give people an option to choose how they move from point A to point B. The visuals would amount to icons some examples would be of walking, bicycling, skateboarding, a car, train, bus, boat or airplane.

Rapp Presents Rappathon – Hacking For Change: A New Way Of Collaboration

The app would use location based technology like Google’s map quest API, this would enable the user to input a starting and end point which would equate to travel time. The data would capture expenses, calories burned and a carbon footprint documented into weeks, months or a year but through visuals. An example would be of someone who walked every day to work from home their analysis would be for sake of argument, today you expended 120kcals; saved $10 reduced your carbon footprint by 5% in a total time of 35min 5sec. If this same user on another day chose to take a taxi the analysis would be expended 20kcals, spent $15, increased your carbon footprint by 10% and reached your destination in a time of 15min 25sec. This data would be converted into visuals and can be shared throughout you’re social networks with a gaming perspective in setting challenges for yourself or against others who partake. We could also toss in some fun stuff like you just grew a forest from a seed, this would be someone who uses alternative means consistently, or you just chopped down a tree if you chose to go in the opposite direction of decision making.

I pitched this at RAPP’s ideation session which garnered a positive response and people seemed stoked to work on it. Two other ideas pitched were Start up Start Up and Social Smack down. We were broken up into 3 teams consisting of different disciplines; in addition we had 3 stations in which the idea would stay tied to. So the idea remains at a specific station and the teams would rotate collaboration on the ideas. It was extremely difficult because we had to commit to the project and be able to detach once rotation time came. The role I played was in providing user experience (UX) and Information Architecture (IA).

The 3 ideas we worked on throughout the day was presented at this past Social Media Week hosted by Big Fuel. The panel was moderated by Wayne Pick  Camilo LaCruz   Craig Elimeliah  Paul Steketee  Ozioma Egwuonwu   and Benjamin Gatzke 

They all played an integral role in helping the teams gather their thoughts and strategically structure how it might be best to tackle the situation. Other people involved that contributed was Edwin Chog @e4c4 (backend developer), Paul Molluzzo @PaulMolluzzo (strategy), Aliona @siberiancharm (designer) and Jason Rosado @awayofart (front-end developer).

Closing thoughts: Would I do something like this again? In a heart beat! I learned what I’m capable of accomplishing under super tight deadlines working on multiple projects, 3 to be exact. That is a tremendous amount of work to take on, I had an awesome time making new friends and learning from them also. As I sit here and wonder what could have we accomplished if we had two days or a week?! Collaboration in rotation can it be the new way to innovate? What a concept.

Google+ Invite =myThoughts

Disclaimer: My opinions on Google+ are my impression of this new application presently, these thoughts can change later and most likely will due to learning about the platform. At the moment it’s pretty cool, maybe later it could suck maybe not idk?

Ok so yesterday I wrote a post about Google’s new Google+ project stating that maybe their “circles” idea could possibly cause one to isolate there self from new opinions or points of views. In fairness I would like to give my point of view after being one of the view to actually receive an invite (Thanks @Jerlyn). So upon entering the application it seemed as though I was logged in but not fully, it took some time for it to fully let me in (or at least that’s how it seemed?) after fumbling around for a good 10-15 minutes trying to figure out how the project functions I finally started to understand.

First impression are the most visceral usually upon entering you immediately can see that this was design in Google fashion, minimalistic, clean and fully functional. Circles seems very flexible in which you can create one with any title you so choose, the default are friends, family, acquaintances, follows and on the far left one more (blank) to create others. I’m still not sure if these circles interconnect in some way? Meaning if I add a friend to a circle which has others in it and that friend creates a circle will those two circles overlap in some way, leaving the possibility open for new connections? We’ll have to wait and see, but you can search for people who have a Google+ account.

Another feature I noticed is that Google has adopted the Facebook wall but instead call it a stream. It functions in pretty much the exact same way as FB does the difference is that it’s broken up just like your created circle groups, keeping content sharable to selected individuals. Google’s version of the like button is the +1 button so you can +1 photos, comments, videos etc… Posted photos are broken up into separate albums clickable/side scrollable and allows the viewer to comment, the background is black giving the photos a cleaner look and allows for more depth. While writing this I received a notification that someone commented me back, on the upper right of the black bar that has been getting a lot of negative reviews, there’s a red box which informs you with the number of notifications.

Now on to the users profile. It’s set up kind of in Facebook fashion but tweaked, profile picture is on the left with your friends listed beneath, the rest of the content is set up like this Name (title) then you have a gray bar underneath with post, about, photos, videos and +1’s accompanied with a blue edit profile on the right. More insights/reviews as I discover more while playing around with it.

In the meanwhile here are some shots of Google+

Google + circles = Bubble?

Yesterday Google announced its new social networking component Google+, touted as a possible Facebook killer Google+ aims to fix social media sharing. Google stated social media sharing at the moment is ridged in the fact that sharing with an individual’s network when posting an updated status is then shared to their entire network. Google says they fixed this with “circles”, circles is a function used by the application in which makes sharing a lot more streamlined. Any media updates are controlled and made possible to share within a specific group of individuals. Basically circles functions as within a social networking platform so that you can break up your entire network into subgroups or smaller specific networks.

I think the initial idea is great but it makes me wonder about another post I’ve read from Chris Matthew (@cdmtthws) of Dumbo’s Big Spaceship. In a past Think blog post “The Power of Potential” Chris mentioned “Arguably one of the strongest assets to social networks is the ability to connect yourself with people or things you may never actually be physically or socially connected to ever in your real life.”. This makes me wonder about Google+ did they take this into consideration when creating this social platform? This circle feature (while a great idea) enables the user to create social networking bubbles, I just wonder even though Google circles allows the user to create multiple bubbles (at least that’s how I understand it) will it become stale or will it entice the user to continue using the application?

From a web designer’s perspective it’s beautifully simple and put together nicely, clean, colorful and filled with easy usability the very things Google is known for. I think Google should allow these circles to inter connect in some way shape or form, while still giving the creator of the circle to admin those connectivity interactions. I for one am intrigued to see how all of this will unfold for Google.