Sketching with Code

Refocussing the residency

Sketch of refocussing

I’ve been thinking about what I’m supposed to achieve with my residency on Eigg this autumn, and came to some conclusions today.

Eigg Box is in the very early stages of its development, so things I do now to help get it off the ground are going to be looked back upon as being much more valuable than some of the more playful ideas that Lucy and I had together on my first trip to the island.

I went through our “list of hacks” and thought about each one in turn, and I’ve just had a short chat with Lucy about prioritising the ideas based on their potential value to Eigg Box.

Here’s the revised “work in progress / to do list”:

Skit

In response to Camille’s bad experience of getting a website of the island’s history online, I’ve made a very simple little website builder tool that works with Dropbox. It’s called Skit.

This could also be useful for any of the small businesses that operate on the island (or indeed anywhere else!). Already there are just under a hundred sites on the service, most of them just tests, but a handful like Digital Edge are really using some of its features.

I’m going to develop this some more and provide a “Skit Pro” that includes a way of publishing other types of documents so that the trust can publish minutes and so on, using Dropbox, amongst all of the islanders to view and manage easily (by dropping them into a folder, basically).

There’s potential here for Eigg Box to gain some revenue for providing the service, so I shall be adding a Paypal subscription system to it.

Way To Eigg

A pretty simple way of sharing the way in which you got to and from Eigg. Eg. “Stef went from London to Eigg by flying to Glasgow, getting the train to Fort William, staying over, getting a train to Arisaig, then taking the ferry. It took 28 hours”

I’m hoping to make a cute little interface and a page that says “there are 245 ways to Eigg, what was yours?” and a way to search for a good way to get there. Solving complex travel timings and so on is probably outside of my abilities in the time, but it could include links to where to find the timetables at least.

Audio Island

Camille and a small team of islanders turned an abandoned crofter’s house into a miniature museum of crofting - it’s a beautiful place, like a “3d instagram” we joked as we looked around it.

I’m going to see if I can make a simple mobile tool that could be sold in the island shop (probably a web app with a set of passwords that they could sell). Somehow you would load up the app on your smartphone and then be able to get an audio tour that you could listen to while you explore the crofter’s house, or indeed the island.

I’d expect it to be quite inexpensive and would need to last a few years, so HTML5, a manifest cache, some easy way of triggering audio by tapping, some kind of map or list of places?

This could also have applications for other places where internet is available before you set off on a trip, but not along the way (like many rural places I’ve visited where there is wifi in the B&B but no 3G signal).

Residency Subscription / Eigg Founders

Johnny from Fence records suggested to Lucy that Eigg Box could have a subscribers-only content app that allows people to support the project by gaining timely access to unique stuff that only subscribers would get. Mainly digital assets like music, videos, ebooks and so on.

I’m going to sketch up an extension of Skit that also allows for paid-for sharing of a folder of content to a set of subscribers who pay a monthly sum via Direct Debit and Gocardless (which is awesome).

I initially had some concerns about this, because I felt like we would be using my residency time to effectively provide a different business with work, but Lucy made it clear that it could be a service that Eigg Box could provide, which could add a revenue stream to the business plan.

I guess this is something unique to my context on Eigg as far as the five residencies are concerned. I think that for future Geeks in Residence it might be important to think about how you decide what to do with your/the host’s time. I’m keen for my hacks to turn into little products, and if that’s to happen then they will probably need to be owned by Eigg Box or someone else. It strikes me that if another business wanted to take on one of these ideas, develop it and grow it I would be open to talking about it.

That’s also something that I’m thinking about generally and I’ll write about that separately - giving the hack away…

So. A bit of refocussing, and I’ve also given myself a deadline. I’m going back to Eigg for about five days of hacking in a few weeks, at the end of which we’re heading to Shetland to show what we’ve done at a small conference. So, whatever we have done by then is what we’ll be presenting!