The way forward

One week in, and things at BT Osmosoft are going swimmingly. I'm gaining an understanding of my role, my team and BT's wider objectives. Big changes are underway to improve customer service across the Group. But the most interesting thing I've been learning about is TiddlyWiki's standing in the open source community.

TiddlyWiki was originally created by Jeremy Ruston (my new boss), but has since taken on a life of it's own. It's a country mile from the products and projects I've worked on in the past. While at LBi, a client would typically ask us to help create a product that was better than (or at least as good as) other solutions already in the public domain, such as photo applications, social networking tools or online shops. We relied on our user centred design process which, by focusing on user's goals, is a tried and tested way of meeting these lofty ambitions.

But with TiddlyWiki, we're approaching things from a completely different angle. A single person, playing with Javascript and pushing browser capabilities to their limits, created something unique and made it available for other people to play with and amend to suit their needs. And the interesting thing is that it is useful to different people in very different, unforeseen ways. In this case, it doesn't make sense to ask the question "what are the user's goals?", because not only do these goals vary widely from person to person, but they're changing all the time and - this is the key - the users are not only willing to make these changes themselves, they enjoy doing so.

It would be presumptuous for us to try and pigeon hole these goals into an "approved list", especially as it would probably halt the innovation process dead in it's tracks.

That isn't to say that we won't be looking to apply the principles of good interaction design on the work that we do. And I imagine if we wanted a particular flavour TiddlyWiki to go mainstream, then we might need to take a fresh look at the product from a non-techies point of view.

So why is TiddlyWiki being used in so many different ways? To try and make sense of this, I'll be looking at the main features of TiddlyWiki in a future post. Watch this space...


Andy said…
I really like the approach of growing the product and it's uses. As you say the goals of your users aren't clear until they actually start using the product from the ground up. It's an Agile approach - let experts who are passionate about their product build something and iterate it with input from your users in a live environment, in a contextual way. I like it.