Who Are We?

| March 31, 2010

That was the question we were charged with answering at today’s seminar at the EdLab. Each work-group was asked how they would want to be described to visitors to the Lab. With half of the Pressible team either ill or on vacation after the 1.3 release last week, Brian and I dared to represent the entire team with these idea-nuggets:

  • a focus on web literacy
  • building tools that teach web literacy without a formal education component
  • an emphasis on learning by doing (both our projects and process reflect this
  • dedication to process documentation
  • service+ : giving service that in turn helps us understand our users, focus our efforts, and encourage content creation
  • “ship today with an eye to tomorrow” (iterative design process)
  • a shared love of text + media, strongly connected to…
  • a shared love of art, news, and analysis
  • an (resultant? concurrent?) obsession with media habits–good and bad

Of course, we don’t expect a tour guide to speak about our design and documentation principles, our iterative process, or our inspiration per se. But we thought we might be able to show this easily while foregoing the opportunity to expound on our philosophies of media and literacy:

  • a feed display in the Lab near our desks, showing the content we consume with a thumbs up/thumbs down rating
  • displaying Pressible on the [finicky] touchscreen to allow visitors to explore for themselves, interacting with real-time publishing-in-motion

As other groups began to share out, Brian wrote this on our page: “us = person habit-centric”. Then later

We are obsessed with our own media habits.

Even in the madness of seminar share-out time, this resonated with me. Web literacy is nothing if not the understanding and cultivation of habits related to web-based behaviors, both good and bad. Our development meetings are shaped by discussion and understanding of such habits, both within ourselves and those of our potential and current users. How do we help cultivate good media habits with the tools we build? How do we break bad media habits? How does our cumulative voracious consumption of media+text guide us in our iterative process, “shipping today with an eye for tomorrow” as it were?

I’m not going to attempt an answer here, though I think the first two questions will be answered by what we do, how it’s received, and how we can react to feedback. The third question is in some ways more compelling, as it asks not only who we are and what we’re building, but why we think this is the way to do it. This answer might be our essence, our answer to a curious tour-taker, and the clearest answer yet to “Why Pressible?”