Road Map

sat29jul2006—30w210d57%— 17h33m00s—0utc

I’ll be the first to admit I’m lousy keeping my public commitments. The thing is, they really help me clear my head and get some focus, and most of the time, even if I don’t finish on schedule, public shame makes me finish all I originally intended eventually (though usually pretty late). So I’m still a big fan of public commitments but this time I’ll add a novel feature to my schedule: incentives for me to finish on time.

Some background is in order: As I was saying yesterday, there is a big project (the biggest yet!) on the horizon, but before I can tackle it I need to give Imagery the much-promised revamping I’ve been talking about for 49 days now (!). I’ve several things to blame, of course, but by and large it’s the same lack as always: focus.

Anyway, many ideas have come to me in the meanwhile. To begin with, I definitely want Imagery to have a memorable, easy-to-pronounce dotcom name and after much brain-racking my creative-assistant-cum-sis, Chef, came up with domburi.com WHOIS, which I loved and was surprisingly available. Domburi WP (usually spelled donburi) is an extremely popular, delicious, and simple japanese dish that has been my top food for three weeks now (when it toppled Pad Thai WP). The name’s short, memorable, easy to pronounce, and cool. It’ll be Imagery’s new identity. The next step now is to clone Imagery to Domburi and experiment there so that I don’t disturb Imagery searchers (how oh-so-cool to have a user base!). Imagery was always meant as an alpha application and has far outstretched itself already. A major polish is in order (not a rewrite from scratch, mind you!) and you’ll be able to track it from domburi.com (though the page will of course be unstable).

The other important idea was to create something of a brand house for Imagery Domburi and all the related interface projects that are to come. My first candidate for a name was the Interface Institute, which was dotcom available and seemed like fun (considering it’s a one-man enterprise), but I wanted something more risky, more challenging, and that’s how I ended up with .net — after, of course, that famous quote from Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire,

I don’t want reality, I want magic.

seen under the light of this other quote — that might as well be the new company’s mission statement — from Steven Johnson’s indispensable Interface Culture,

The real magic of graphic computers derives from the fact that they’re not tied to the old, analog world of objects. They can mimic much of that world of course, but they’re also capable of adopting new identities and performing new tasks that have no real-world equivalent whatsoever. People who get hooked on computers get hooked for this reason. They don’t become high-tech junkies because their machines remind them of their Rolodexes; they’re junkies because their machines do things they never thought possible. Interface design should reflect this newness, this range of possibility.

I’m tremendously excited about . Once, not long ago, I somewhat secretly decided that I’d someday work at virtual reality, the possibilities of which seem truly mind-boggling (some of you might remember my incoherent ramblings on the subject). To my mind, this seems like a weird early step in that direction — in virtual reality, everything is interface.

But that’s enough intro, here, finally, is my road map:

Start of Project Domburi! — 29 July (Chef’s bday!)

Main Goal: Make Domburi IE and Opera compatible.
Punctuality Premium: If I do finish with the above task, I get to buy Getting Real, the book.

End of 1st Week — 5 August

Main Goal: Add Yahoo! & Flickr to the list of Domburi engines and do interesting things like split screens and such with them.

End of 2nd Week — 12 August

Main Goal: Implement Bento & Disjoint (Cool Domburi surprise features — you’ll see!). Begin writing copy (presentation, FAQ, help, requirements).

End of 3rd Week — 19 August

Main Goal: Polishing, beta-testing, polishing. Rinse and repeat. Special attention to things like responsiveness, interaction, smoothness, design, performance, stability. Finish writing copy.

End of 4th Week — 23 August

Main Goal: Publicity, more polishing, and more publicity. The hope here is a mention from TechCrunch.

Tentative Finish — 29 August

Project Domburi would be successfully finished now if the website had attained 10 thousand visitors per day, for more than 3 days (not necessarily in a row). If the challenge’s met I earn the Punctuality Premium, if not, I keep promoting and polishing the website fulltime.

Punctuality Premium: Read Replay, Machinery of Freedom, Artful Sentences and the week’s Economist — all told, my idea of nirvana.

End of 1st Cushion Week — 2 September

The same review of the previous week: Domburi should have had 3 days with a 10-thousand-visitors-traffic by now. If it does, I earn a (big) Punctuality Premium, if not, I keep at it.

Punctuality Premium: Read Peter Watson’s massive Ideas: a history of thought and invention — with 750 pages (and big sheets at that, with the smallest of margins) it promises to be even more absorbing and challenging (and fun!) than The Modern Mind. Implement quick versions of 3 simple projects: a textviewer, a timetool, and an interface to RAE.

End of 2nd Cushion Week and Definitive Finish of Project Domburi — 9 September

Domburi really should have had at least five 10,000-visitors days by now, but if it doesn’t I’ll move (shamefully) to the next project…

Start of Project Maki! — 10 September

As always, any help keeping me on track (a simple message or comment or email) would be very very very appreciated. Being a human-timer is easy and fast, and yet rewards with lavish praise. ;)

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