Weekly Thesis Post #20

February 23rd, 2011


I spent a little bit of time this week working on the story/pitch for my thesis. Here’s a revised version:

Obtract is a service to help knowledge workers focus on their work. Using a desktop app, it keeps track of individuals’ activities over the course of a work day. The app connects to a centralized service where people on the same team can share activities and progress. When Obtract notices that a team member has become too distracted or is in need of a break, it generates interventions using desktop notifications and text messages that encourage in-person collaboration and renew focus.


The bulk of my work over the past week has gone towards prototype development. Things are looking pretty good so far. I’ve captured a few screen shots of the app in progress.

Here’s one image of the early “feed” section, which shows the last few activities you’ve done on your computer:

And here’s the “trend” section, which shows how distracted you’ve been over the past hour. A higher point means that I was more focused and less distracted.

Currently, the app will keep track of applications and the websites you visit in Safari and Chrome (but not Firefox.) Right now, it counts Safari as distracting, but everything else is productive. Next up, I’m going to work on the mini-window and the “break” feature. As part of that will be a system that lets workers rate apps and websites as being distracted or not. I would say that currently I’m within range of my schedule, but maybe a few days behind. I’m trying to get it as quickly as possible to a state where I can get some user testing.