Sketching with Code

Returning to Eigg

My third trip to the island, and this time we have a deadline for having something to show.

I’ve made some interesting stuff already, and this trip we will be making some things we have been planning.

So far:

Skit

A tool to build and manage a simple website using Dropbox.

Eigg Box branding

We have settled on typefaces, a simple logo, and I have the beginnings of a branding pack.

Eigg Box site

It was bound to happen, we decided to spend some time sorting out the website… I know, I know. The brief was to not do this, but this is a startup and it’s helpful for Lucy to have my input on this. The trick will be to make a site that she can manage without needing my input (I can’t really offer support at the moment). Squarespace looks ideal, but it’s really hard to develop for without a reliable Internet connection, so currently I have a little ruby app that lets me work and once we are happy I will translate it into a SquareSpace theme.

Audio tour app

We’ve had conversations with professional sound recordists since my last visit so the aim is to make a tiny audio app with a map and then seek further funds to pay for recordings.

Croft Number 6

This is a content idea. Photos, text, on a set of pages so that people can find out a out this fascinating micro-museum on the island. I will be setting up a tripod and recording what I can of the place and putting the results somewhere sensible. I’m finding it really odd that given all the stuff that’s available that I’ve not found a suitable platform for making this little site yet. As I’ve said - I hate Wordpress for this kind of thing - all your content is stored in a weird overly-complex database, images are stored on an FTP server or something, and the whole thing runs on PHP. Other services are around but will they go bust? If not, are they open source?

And for a history site it will have bitrot issues, passwords will disappear as people come and go. I just think that need a GitHub for history…

What I want is something where the user owns and has the content in files and some kind of public front-end that turns those files into website. I’ve tried that with Skit but I think that markdown is still a bit hard perhaps? I’ll continue my research…

The Data Necklace

The biggest thing to come out of the residency so far is the necklace! I need to find time (I’m currently moving house when I’m not on Eigg…) to raise the funds to get this off the ground. I’m a bit blocked at the moment because I am so busy with this residency and my work at Comic Relief. The classic problem. Great idea. No funds to get it to market because I have bills to pay and have to work on other stuff. Any ideas welcome.

We’ve had amazing coverage for the necklaces and I just need to find a way to make this idea into a reality now… The “when the hack turns into a project” point.

Timeline

Lucy has been collating a history timeline and Camille will be helping to make this. I’m looking for something sane that (preferably a public git repo on GitHub) contains the history of the island. I can’t seem to find anything that lets a novice manage a set of pages easily but in such a way that all of the content is available via git. Maybe I’m being too picky, but I’d love to see a kind of “history in git” thing emerge. Maybe I have to build it but there’ll be no time during this residency for something that complicated. Not flat files. Not flipping Wordpress (I can’t stand it). So I am seeking an elegant solution. Skit could be it but folk seem to have trouble using it so far.

Wilderness Hack. Speaking to Alex over email, I have suggested the idea of organising a Wilderness Hack. It could go some way to solving some of his problems and I can imagine it being a really fun event. The idea is that we would collect a bunch of talented people together for a long weekend next year and do some branding and design work around the idea of attracting people to the (now heavily internetted) islands.

Time

This seems to be the biggest issue. We have lots of ideas, but we’re running out of time to get them all made! I suspect we will be applying for some further funds from somewhere to take some of these ideas forward, and I am already thinking about how I can maintain a connection with Lucy after this residency comes to an end. I am determined to show some kind of measurable result for Eigg Box from having me around, and that whatever was spent by the funders has come back with a valuable return as a result.

The deadline

We have given ourselves a deadline - Lucy and I are speaking in Shetland at a conference mid-week this week. So we have the weekend and a day or so to build, make and finish these prototype ideas before we demo the results. I enjoy a tight deadline. I suspect I will be giving each idea a day of time until then, so they really will be hacky demo-ware, but hopefully sufficient to prove or disprove their value/potential.