Okay. So. I have this idea for a Firefox plugin that helps users find consensus on Web video. I have this other idea for an open-source platform for layering apps onto Web video. And then there’s this other thought I’ve been toying around with: A simple little “peek” hoverbox for news stories that would give a peek at stats, comments, etc. for a story without requiring the user to click through to a news story page. On top of those, there are about three other swirly, nebulous concepts that, if I can quickly find something sturdier than my skull to bang my head against, are bound to shake loose and spill out into into a HTML/Illustrator document over these next few weeks.
I’ve noticed that the challenge isn’t coming up with problems or ideas. My challenge: Once I identify problems, how do I know which is the BIGGEST and BEST problem to tackle for the purposes of the Lab? Help, please, great pasta mass in the sky!
The Mozilla Learning Lab lectures of the past week (not to mention the colorful user chat) has offered some insight as to how I might go about getting to that best idea. First, as Aza Raskin points out, getting to the really good stuff is all about understanding the problem and creating a space for rapid iteration.
Taking Aza’s advice of busting out the core concepts of the prototype in a day, I decided to tackle the most outward-facing portion of that first little hoverbox idea (please don’t sue, Boston.com). This hoverbox addresses several problems for users: It creates opportunities for engagement and makes news consumption and sharing easier. For the client website, it creates monetization opportunities through users’ mouse hovers and clicks. There is much more thinking to be done, here, obviously.
So, I’m one iteration of one prototype towards answering my own question about which of the things rattling around in my head tackles the biggest and best problems, and sadly, that doesn’t feel like much progress, considering these are just the problems and ideas I’ve thought of so far, my brain is sometimes feeble, and I don’t exactly have the research resources to uncover the biggest, most wicked problems of the digital sphere.
Hmm. So where does that leave me? Why, I think it leaves me with Bert Herman’s checklist. Follow your passion? Check. What can I say? I dig the news. And I dig making cool stuff. Build a community? I feel like I’m 60-some people closer to that than a week ago, for sure...so check! Build a team? Um, I think I can mark that one as “work in progress.” Just build it? Um, no. But one prototype closer! Listen to your users? Um, no. But once I get some users, I’m all ears. Promise! Stay flexible? I’ll do my best!