Tools for togetherness
This talk at dConstruct 2022 features the only public demo of an unreleased multiplayer product.
I spoke at dConstruct 2022 about tools for togetherness, my riff on the "tools for thought" idea which has been the guiding light of computing since the 1960s.
This talk was also the only public demo of the consumer version of Sparkle (check out the second half of the video).
I headed up product and design at Sparkle over 2022.
Sparkle was a platform for multiplayer online spaces. After taking the product through a pivot away from B2B, we explored what it would mean for small teams and individuals to hang out and work together in always-on, always-social spaces.
There was just enough of the spatial metaphor to make it feel like a place, but not so much that it felt like a game. Because we built with a sensitivity to moving up and down the intimacy gradient, it didn’t feel fatiguing like video calls can. And functionality was ownable, so you could take a feature out of your pocket and make your space your own...
The demo is a working prototype from only a few months of product exploration so it’s scappy — but we were using it day-to-day, and the core paradigms are there.
We weren't able to take the product to market, but I’m proud of what we build and discovered.
These blog posts unpack many of the ideas in the talk.
- What wipes in Star Wars teach us about the brain and also interface design (2021)
- What is the metaverse? (2021)
- SAGE and a glimpse of group computing from before the PC (2021)
- Designing multiplayer apps with patterns from architecture (2022)
- Dunbar’s number and how speaking is 2.8x better than picking fleas (2022)