Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rethinking the problem for creating the Public Radio Roadtrip

In response to Aza Raskin's suggestions about writing down and refining a problem statement for a project so that the solution could be better understood, I wrote a problem statement for the Public Radio Roadtrip:
I want to curate stories from multiple sources and associate geolocation information with these stories.  I want to organize these stories into collections.  I want to publish these collections of stories onto an embeddable map.  I also want to publish these collections to additional destinations automatically, like a person's mp3 player (via podcasts), like Google Maps, Layar  and more...  I would like to easily create printed flyers of these stories with an accompanying qrcode which links to the audio.
Is this really the problem?  It sounds more like a description.

Aza quotes engineer Paul MacCready in his article "You Are Solving The Wrong Problem"
“The problem is we don’t understand the problem.”
Aza notes that "the problem was the problem".  The problem was the process itself, and to arrive at the solution the process needed to change.  Both Aza and Bert Herman said that repetition, that iteration was key.

So, perhaps rather than describe what I have now, perhaps the problem is, how can I better refine the process?  How can I better test the app, gain feedback, refine my assumptions and my work and try again.  What will my problem statement look like then?

1 comment:

John Tynan said...

I wonder if part of the problem about associating geographic data with stories is that stories are multifaceted and may take place at many points. This, as opposed to information at a more atomic level (like photographs or tweets) which can be more accurately attributed to a place. I wonder if this gray area for placing stories makes this difficult for journalists? Does placing a story on a map carry with it an implied truth that "this happened here?" I can place a story on a map at a particular place for different reasons than you. You might locate a story in a different place for other reasons. I wonder if journalists and news organizations have resistance to the more subjective side of placing stories on a map?