It suddenly strikes me that I haven’t been blogging much recently. Exams finished several weeks ago but I have been somewhat busy.
In particular I’ve been working on a new site for a client, Inovazone. In the words of the site’s inventor, Alastair Darwood:
How does an invention go from a scribble on a page to a world-changing product that advances humanity? The answer is that at the heart of the invention there lies a set of distinct and crucial necessities that the invention is addressing … Until now, the only way in which necessities were discovered was through large companies carrying out expensive research, or a spark of genius from someone who suddenly sees one and thinks of a solution. Inovazone is designed to change this. The idea is that users of the site post their ‘necessities’ (short explanations of problems, ‘necessities’, they think need to be solved to benefit them (or humanity)), or rough outlines of inventions they would like to see and anyone can browse the necessities if they want to and look for interesting problems to try to solve through innovation. This could be in the form of an invention or simply a quick online response to the post on our comments system.
Interestingly enough, there doesn’t actually yet exist a site or system available to the general public that serves this particular function by providing a framework within which ideas for inventions are openly submitted and accessed, so I agreed to work on it, especially considering the core of submitting and displaying necessities is a relatively simple PHP/SQL project.
What I found particularly compelling was that, according to Alastair, everyone with whom he’s discussed the site has expressed enormous enthusiasm for it, and even a seasoned inventor he’d talked to had described the idea as long overdue and predicted huge success. Although I originally liked the idea and somehow felt it would do pretty well owing to its novelty, I for some reason assumed one would obtain mixed reactions in discussions.
In terms of the hard sell, we’re employing several different methods to publicise Inovazone. We’ve created a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account – feel free to follow us (@inovazone). One.com also kindly provide adwords coupons so with some SEO we might be able to appear in ads on relevant Google searches.
The site is currently about to go into beta testing. From wiki:
Beta testing comes after alpha testing. Versions of the software, known as beta versions, are released to a limited audience outside of the programming team. The software is released to groups of people so that further testing can ensure the product has few faults or bugs. Sometimes, beta versions are made available to the open public to increase the feedback field to a maximal number of future users.
The idea of this is simply to fine-tune what we already have rather than to add more features, though both these are desirable outcomes from this round of testing; though for me personally the primary objective is to see whether the system works well with a large user base. So for that to happen we need some willing volunteers to go test out the site: anyone reading this is welcome to join the test group. Go ahead and post as many necessities as you deem reasonable, and comment on existing ones. Try out creating new subcategories and send us feedback about features that you think should be created or made better via the awesome uservoice-powered feedback utility. I’m especially interested in bugs and vulnerabilities you find; if you somehow work out how to delete posted necessities or spam the site with adverts, or if the site spews out a series of errors while you’re using it under normal circumstances, get in touch (there is a contact page). Chances are the database will be reverted to its initial (more or less empty) state before the site is released in a few weeks’ time, so disasters should be recoverable.
Before you (readers) go, I’d be interested to hear your feedback on the idea of the site – do you think it has potential? Will it be useful?
That’s all from me for now. The site will get a working and hopefully regularly-updated blog pretty soon for general status information and news so you probably won’t be hearing much more about it from me.