ILXO/workshops/How to jam
 ILXO: How to Run A Jam
July 9, 2008
Please excuse the wonky times --- my computer clock was set to the wrong time, so this actually began around 3 pm CST.
(10:01:09 AM) nlee: all right, lets get this party started
(10:01:15 AM) nlee: andreatl: nicely done...
(10:01:23 AM) andreatl: nlee: oops, failboat?
(10:02:03 AM) ben_r [firstname.lastname@example.org] entered the room.
(10:02:39 AM) nlee: so, what do people want to discuss?
(10:02:50 AM) nlee: there are a lot of things that go into making a successful jam
(10:02:51 AM) nlee: :)
(10:04:59 AM) mchua: Question: Why is everyone in here interested in learning about running a Jam?
(10:05:52 AM) mchua: I can go through the topics on How To Run A Jam that haven't yet been fleshed out, if folks think it would be a good outline.
(10:06:08 AM) ***mchua has been a slacker at filling that in
(10:10:23 AM) ***cjl mumbles something about adding categories under his breath. . .
(10:12:00 AM) ***mchua adds categories
(10:12:13 AM) ***mchua finds that cjl has beaten to the punch
(10:13:34 AM) ***cjl lights candles AND curses darkness
(10:18:10 AM) ***ben_r test?
(10:18:36 AM) ***ben_r watches tumble weed travel across chat room
(10:19:02 AM) ***cjl listens to peaceful chirp of crickets
(10:19:32 AM) nlee: hi guys (10:19:42 AM) ben_r: nlee: hi
(10:19:58 AM) nlee: we dont seem to have a lot of questions here
(10:20:00 AM) nlee: ;)
(10:20:27 AM) cjl: Are there others physically present in ilxo or is it only in this channel?
(10:20:56 AM) nlee: cjl: just in this channel
(10:21:02 AM) cjl: Ohhh
(10:21:24 AM) cjl: well I'll be happy ask some questions then.
(10:21:29 AM) nlee: hahaha
(10:21:52 AM) ***cjl was trying to be polite thinking room was busy. . .
(10:22:03 AM) mchua: cjl: fire away. :)
(10:22:03 AM) ccarrick: shoot
(10:22:20 AM) nlee: cjl: you have more than earned the right to monopolize our attention
(10:22:24 AM) mchua: otherwise I'll start rambling on about the topics on the wiki guide, which may not actually be useful to other people to know.
(10:22:43 AM) cjl: What do you guiys think about events tha are not necessarily physical, but are more extended on-line "happenings"
(10:23:10 AM) nlee: like GrassCon?
(10:23:16 AM) cjl: See teh rather poorly named User:Cjl/SandboxGlossary for an idea
(10:23:55 AM) cjl: I reused the page before I had sysop. I have to get around to fixing that.
(10:24:49 AM) cjl: Been thinking about trying to harvest more pre-localized spanish health content for a variety of reasons (half-mil deployed XO's being among them)
(10:25:34 AM) ben_r: mchua: is game jam still this weekend?
(10:25:40 AM) cjl: I've never really had much luck getting others to chip in on things I've started on hte wiki (mchua and Children's books being the possible exception). So I was looking for ideas.
(10:26:23 AM) mchua: ben_r: that's going to be in early august, at IMSA.
(10:26:27 AM) mchua: nlee: ^^
(10:26:54 AM) ben_r: mchua: i get back the 18th...
(10:27:04 AM) nlee: we moved Game Jam based on good timing for IMSA people
(10:27:13 AM) mchua: (because IMSA is hosting)
(10:27:35 AM) mchua: cjl: re: extended on-line happenings - I think regularly scheduled, sprinty on-line happenings tend to work well.
(10:27:46 AM) mchua: (trying to clarify and rephrase that...)
(10:28:17 AM) mchua: So the objective of all of these events, jams, whatever you want to call them that we're discussing - the point of them is to Get Things Done.
(10:28:28 AM) mchua: To get things done, to get people excited (so they'll get things done), to get them resources (so they can get things done), etc.
(10:28:56 AM) mchua: The reason in-person Jams work really well for this is that you have a concrete place, date, time, and objective of Thing To Get Done, with clear start and stop time limits.
(10:29:16 AM) mchua: It's something very specific to go to, to shoot for, something really easy to bracket out time for because you know exactly when your involvement will begin and end.
(10:29:31 AM) mchua: Being physically together in one location makes it easy to bounce ideas off each other, and get excited by other people interested in the same thing.
(10:29:47 AM) cjl: drive-by traffic on the wiki obviously doesn't attract a lot of drop-ins.
(10:29:47 AM) mchua: It also makes for a good excuse to create resources, since they'll be simultaneously utilized by many people at once.
(10:30:26 AM) mchua: You can go "maybe someday someone will use my 2d physics engine," but it's more motivating to think "Oh! In a month, 30 coders will NEED to use my physics engine to make their games. Better code... better write docs!"
(10:30:35 AM) mchua: cjl: Yeah, drive-by traffic on the wiki doesn't.
(10:30:42 AM) mchua: It's more nebulous and harder to grasp.
(10:30:50 AM) mchua: What needs to be done? What is this chunk I'm biting off?
(10:30:56 AM) mchua: How much of my life will it suck?
(10:30:59 AM) mchua: Can I even do it?
(10:31:13 AM) mchua: Getting projects to the point where other people can contribute is a hard (and alas, usually a thankless) job.
(10:32:06 AM) cjl: true dat
(10:32:19 AM) mchua: One of the big drivers of a Jam, whether it's in-person or virtual, is that suddenly that work is recognized and utilized.
(10:32:26 AM) mchua: In other words, "organizers matter."
(10:32:48 AM) mchua: It's a big motivation for people who want others to work on their projects to make it really easy for newcomers to work on those projects, because they're *going to get* newcomers.
(10:33:03 AM) mchua: So they're guaranteed that whatever "project management/structuring" work they put in will be fruitful.
(10:33:07 AM) mchua: Which means it gets done.
(10:33:31 AM) mchua: (For an example of the kinds of things that need to be set up for people to be able to jump in and contribute to projects, see http://wiki.laptop.org/go/WikiBrowse#Previous_tasks)
(10:34:22 AM) mchua: And more than that, the organizers know that the project-org work they're doing is going to be seen and used by people who will actually contribute something *useful* to their project.
(10:34:39 AM) mchua: Because I've seen the following happen way too often:
(10:34:51 AM) mchua: Project organizer: I'm working on ProjectFoo! It's awesome! I need help!
(10:35:02 AM) mchua: n00b: Shiny! Can you show me how to get started?
(10:35:18 AM) mchua: Project organizer: *spends several hours crafting introductory guides, documentation, tutorials, explanations on how to get started on projectfoo*
(10:35:27 AM) mchua: n00b: thanks! *walks away and is never seen again*
(10:35:35 AM) mchua: Project organizer: but-but-but....
(10:36:09 AM) mchua: ...on the other hand, the fact that people have invested time (and usually gasoline, or at least electricity) in devoting themselves to coming to a jam makes them more committed towards doing something real.
(10:36:28 AM) cjl: hmmm, sounds a little Ponzi via Machiavelli :-)
(10:39:55 AM) ***mchua grins
(10:40:22 AM) mchua: so to come back to the original question, I think that extended online happenings can be powerful in a different way than physical jams
(10:40:44 AM) mchua: extended online happenings have the advantage of being asynchronous - needing little realtime coordination between parties, but things can still move forwards
(10:40:48 AM) mchua: s/forwards/forward
(10:41:06 AM) cjl: You've made good points in favor of F2F
(10:41:20 AM) mchua: jams have higher overhead, but higher excitement levels, higher commitment levels, and definite "we will do X within Y time frame, and along the way produce/use Z resources"
(10:41:38 AM) mchua: cjl: another plus for f2f is that drop-ins and drop-outs are less frequent and less disruptive
(10:42:23 AM) mchua: new people coming into a project incur overhead - you have to explain things, get them up to speed, etc. - but if everyone knows that there's an intro session 10am saturday, they just come to that, you do it once
(10:42:40 AM) mchua: (and then for the latecomers who missed it, you get the people who did come to catch them up on it)
(10:42:47 AM) mchua: (so you don't have to ;)
(10:43:01 AM) mchua: minuses for f2f: lack of paper trail.
(10:43:07 AM) ben_r: <-noob, f2f?
(10:43:11 AM) mchua: ben_r: face to face
(10:43:13 AM) ben_r: k
(10:43:39 AM) mchua: having a closed group working together on something builds great teams and friendships for the folks that are involved (10:43:44 AM) mchua: but it excludes the people who aren't
(10:44:13 AM) mchua: and when you're in the middle of hacking fast and furious, you often can't pull out to transcribe your conversations in a way that will make sense to others - that ruins the flow of your group
(10:44:38 AM) mchua: so in a way, you make yourself into a temporary black-box and emerge out the other side with a team and a finished product, but not much (usually) about how that product was produced
(10:44:57 AM) mchua: so you have to decide whether that's something you want for your project.
(10:45:04 AM) cjl: Well, do you think you ahve any good ideas for the sugar users manual tha it looks like is4 is going to get involved in? This is looking like a "calling all hands" operation.
(10:45:40 AM) mchua: cjl: gimme a sec to skim the thread
(10:45:42 AM) cjl: If you want to say RTFM, it helps to have a FM
(10:45:57 AM) mchua: cjl: +1
(10:46:00 AM) cjl: also new mail from addam hold to support gang
(10:46:11 AM) cjl: Adam Holt
(10:46:20 AM) cjl: call tomorrow
(10:46:28 AM) mchua: reading through thread: the "put people in a room and things will happen!" thing is a common fallacy, imo :)
(10:47:06 AM) ***cjl realizes mumble-phonic is not mchua's favorite channel
(10:47:09 AM) mchua: cjl: whoa, at the costs they're discussing for flying people in, I'm not sure if the cost-benefit breakdown helps
(10:47:27 AM) mchua: cjl: yes, I'm a regular on #whatdidtheyjustsayicouldnthearoverthephone
(10:47:53 AM) cjl: Looks like is4 will be getting himself in the middle of it :-)
(10:48:40 AM) cjl: getting hte floss manuals people involved seems like a good move
(10:48:56 AM) mchua: cjl: is4 likes to be in the middle of everything :)
(10:49:20 AM) mchua: cjl: the challenge with flossmanuals is that they've done much of their work in a vacuum so far - they haven't really gotten into working with the "community at large," as nebulous as that may sound
(10:49:48 AM) mchua: awesome people doing fantastic work, though - I wish we could get them more in tune with the grassroots community, but I know that takes time that anne and adam don't have
(10:50:09 AM) mchua: cjl: and after reading the thread, i agree with christoph that "As ever so often too much time is spent discussing things instead of actually getting anything done..."
(10:51:02 AM) cjl: If there wer a better collection of wiki pages, it would be more an anthology editors job than a manual writing gig.
(10:52:21 AM) cjl: Anyway, I can realize that it is important and that the best thing I can personally do is steer clear of it.
(10:52:53 AM) mchua: cjl: personally, i'm not going to get involved in the event, but I'll probably end up writing docs anyway
(10:54:02 AM) cjl: But I do wonder if they could use some input/advice from experienced organizers. . .
(10:54:24 AM) cjl: Not that they would follow it
(10:56:31 AM) mchua: cjl: ^^^
(10:56:37 AM) mchua: cjl: ;-)
(10:56:51 AM) cjl: :-) :-(
(10:56:56 AM) mchua: (also, there are "experienced organizers" in that discussion - gregdek, for one)
(10:57:27 AM) mchua: (and seth has been to 2 jams by now, although he's only been to smallish ones)
(10:57:47 AM) mchua: boston and taipei were explosively awesome - seattle and nyc were reasonably all right
(10:59:43 AM) cjl: I see you already have a transcriber lined up. .
(4:09:51 PM) mchua: :D
(4:10:06 PM) nlee left the room (quit: "poof").
(4:10:30 PM) ben_r: P-)