Work update a.k.a. how I’m keeping myself out of trouble rn
16.58, Tuesday 18 Jul 2023 Link to this post
It’s been six months since I posted hunting for projects so here’s what happened next.
Acts Not Facts
What happened just after I posted in January was that the AI thing absolutely blew up. And this is my favourite point in the technology S-curve: we’re imagination bottlenecked.
Like, for the past 10 years, you mainly had to figure out the business-efficient path to get to wherever it is you wanted to go. Which means strategy decks, and post-its, and tests and iterations, and defined team roles. Which I’ve done my fair share of.
At this point in the S-curve the way you figure out what to do is that you get your hands dirty and make things, and you try stuff out in your sweaty palm which tells you more, and it all changes daily, and you talk widely and share widely to (a) make sure you’re not doing anything stupid and/or dangerous, and (b) generate more ideas in the scenius.
So I have a new product invention studio to help startups and big orgs in their we-need-to-figure-it-out mode. It’s just me for the moment and I hope to find projects that will allow me to bring in others.
The studio is called Acts Not Facts and right there on the homepage is a big Venn of my favourite areas:
- AI – because we’re in a capability overhang and I’ve been making a lot in this domain
- Multiplayer – not only because “online” should be realtime and social but because this is a necessary enabler for at least some forms of interacting with AIs
- Embodiment – everything from physical computing, to using patterns from architecture in designing software UI.
Hey and I’ve written up a bunch of past projects.
Now, I’m a believer in “process”… not least because it’s scalable and embodies the culture of a studio…
…but I think tech and also agency work has changed too much to rely on the processes of the past. So one of the early goals of Acts Not Facts is to draft a new playbook. Which means being very open with regards to ways of working – the work comes first.
First project: inventor in residence at PartyKit
I’m super excited about the first public project, starting this week.
PartyKit is a crazy simple, crazy powerful platform for multiplayer software. It’s early - as early as any project with over 2,000 stars on GitHub can be - and, to my mind, future fundamental internet infrastructure. (It’s exactly what I’ve needed in many projects spanning back years.)
I’ve been noodling with multiplayer interactions for a while. Here’s a map of my blog posts about designing for multiplayer. And my multiplayer UI sketchbook is over here (being: a whole bunch of GIFs that I previously shared on Twitter).
So the project with PartyKit is to do, well, more of that.
The idea is to take part in the collaborative imagining of what multiplayer can be, hopefully expanding the field – there are tons of smart people already working in this space, so let’s be part of that open conversation.
And, by being embedded, helping to stretch and inform the development of the platform API itself.
We’re calling this a residency, which is awesome.
Part of the remit is collabs.
So if you want to make something together, like figuring out the tricky interactions with AI agents in multiplayer environments, or exploring weird cool art, then please do get in touch: my unoffice door is open.
Getting that AI Clock into your greasy paws
It wouldn’t be a studio without a side project to bring a connected hardware product into the world…
Remember my AI Clock?
It tells the time with a new ChatGPT poem every minute on an e-ink screen, with a curiously enthusiastic vibe. Then that tweet of the prototype went crazy, and it ended up in the New York Times and The Verge and also viral in newspapers in India and ALSO also it showed up in Private Eye.
- I’m working towards a Kickstarter campaign.
- There’s a great path to manufacture.
- And a new prototype, P2, complete with gorgeous e-paper screen and easy wi-fi setup.
See the photo of the new P2 prototype, get the details on all this news, and follow along as the Kickstarter comes together by reading the latest update on Substack – please do subscribe.
(In particular, from the Asks section at the bottom of that update, I’d love to hear requests for topics to cover in future newsletter editions, and to talk with anyone in a position to commit to 100+ units and how we might make that interesting.)
My dance card isn’t quite full and I am always up for interesting chats about speculative things and future possibilities. Contact deets are on my homepage.