Weekly Thesis Post #21

March 2nd, 2011


I’ve been busy with development over the past week. Let’s try something new this week: A video update!

For the sake of posterity and Googlability, here are the highlights:

  • The system is now accurately measuring the productive time and distracted time. Using that, it creates a score comprised of the productive minutes over the full amount of time (60 minutes.)
  • The app now shows the last 60 minutes of working. The 60 minutes do not have to be consecutive. It picks up where you left off when you last stopped using the application. Though, if there’s been a gap of more than four hours, the score will reset.
  • The app has an auxiliary window that shows your current score. It also lets you mark the current activity (app or website) as productive or distracting.
  • The app has an auto-hide feature. When you’re productive, it peeks off the side of the screen and reveals itself with a mouseover. When you’re distracted, it shows all of the time to remind you of the time you’re using.
  • You can now take breaks. 10 minutes out of every hour, as long as you have more than 5 minutes of break available.

Obviously, it’s still a work in progress. The transitions to/from breaks in particular need more work. For the rest of the week, I’m going to be working on milestones, and on some of the basic interventions.


This week I’m also participating in a workshop with Jack Schulze and Matt Jones from BERG in London. Initially, they pointed me to a project called Glancing by another designer at BERG, Matt Webb. Here’s the scenario from his description:

Three people sitting at their computers with Glancing running: Blue, White and Red. That’s what the eye looks like on everyone’s computer.

The way you look to see who’s around you is by opening the menu, and there are their names there. Just by looking to see who’s around, seeing their names, Glancing understands that as a higher activity: it’s a glance. So Blue does this, opens the menu.

Then the eye opens on everyone’s computer.

After thirty minutes or so, Red glances too, and coincidentally White is just thinking about what to write in her report and idly opens the menu also. The eye gets even more focused.

Right, and that’s about it.

This is a really nice concept. I especially like how the mechanism for checking to see if other people are glancing feeds back into the system to get other people to glance. It’s a really nice touch.


Yesterday, we also had a session at R/GA where we talked about user journeys, storytelling, and video production. In addition to some helpful tips about making videos on the cheap, they emphasized the importance of the story that you’re communicating. The same topic came up in the BERG workshop again.

At the end of the thesis, I ultimately will have one or two minutes of video that need to clearly and compellingly communicate my topic. As Jack said, my topic is clearly practical and there will be a “truth” behind it in a software app. But how can I tell a story about in a way that’s witty, exciting, and fun? Or in a way that potentially shows logical extensions of the system that I won’t have time to build?