Hi folks, I’ve been cogitating on platform issues like this one while busy:
I have this weekend before getting pulled back under the waves of life again. Since I am short on time ( along with most of us who love this project but aren’t sure how to fix these issues ), I am trying to think of ways to solve this problem that take our collective time crunch into consideration.
Just brainstorming options, perhaps pursuing all of them is best, perhaps focusing on one, I don’t know. But hopefully this makes a step forward in considering what we need to do to make our platform usable again ( my main issues being the 30 second login / page load times & overheating ).
For what it’s worth, if I get no other input suggesting otherwise, I expect my approach to be pursuing all 4 of these ideas according to my own timeline, which is likely haphazard and inconsistent at best. Nonetheless, I will do what I can, and I thank you for your help in any manner, whether expressing support, pointing out issues, or providing concrete information / materials that move us further along.
Rhiju has in the past expressed interest in using something like the experiment.com crowdfunding platform to support development costs here.
- Can enable feature development and bug fixing currently outside of budget scope.
- Takes pressure off of existing dev & lab teams whose resources are already spoken for simply in day-to-day operations.
- If the developer[s] chosen after raising money do not deliver, then we have lost time and money in this venture. Therefore, hand in hand with fundraising goes a proper vetting process for anyone accepting those funds. e.g. The awardee of any paid contract to develop features, fix bugs, or transition the platform to HTML must provide preliminary evidence of ability to execute, and should be subject to termination at predetermined milestone intervals, since even with fundraising we will still have limited resources.
- It has also been suggested to fundraise for things like eternacon, however I want to state clearly and loudly that IMHO crowdraised funds are most appropriately spent on concrete contributions back to said crowd. Therefore I am not in support of crowdfunding for conventions, unless something tangible and concrete at that convention will be accomplished.
2. Player Dev
We already have player devs working in various capacities. Perhaps a codification of steps to get involved would help. For example, I have only an amateur ability to dev, and would need clear instructions on what is the current technology stack, how to access APIs, what is the current test server / dev environment situation, etc.
- Player Dev is already in effect in principle.
- Making the wiki page codifying the process is not too time intensive.
- Existing devs & player devs would need to participate to illuminate the landscape.
- The actual expectation of resolving major platform issues with volunteer labor is something which should be regarded as a great gift and surprise bonus, not a fait accompli.
- The effective quality of volunteer labor may by definition be below that of professional execution, unless someone with the appropriate skills takes pity on us and sees that the fate of humanity and the future of medicine could rest in their hands… I’m not entirely joking here. But as much as we all love and understand the importance of this project, still our own survival and life duties take precedence, and it is a fact of life that many who are most competent, are most busy.
There are other groups of professionals with aligned interests in citizen science, medicine, and computer science. Recently the Aarhus citizen science gaming team ( Quantum Moves of scienceathome.org ) reached out to their user base for input on their next game design. I looked into their team, and found that they appear to have an appropriate amount of professional resources for development. I am not sure if this is the same institution where Cody Geary was studying, but if it is, perhaps he would be willing to assist in introductions / discussion.
It leads me to wonder, perhaps they or others like them may on occasion have a surplus of development resources, and might see value in collaborating and helping Eterna get over one or two major hurdles.
We could not expect another team to take on all of our feature and bug needs, so this sort of thing would be about a targeted mission to fix specific critical path issues, like the 30 second login / page loads, perhaps resolved by the general transition of the platform to HTML.
- This could strengthen the concept of a global citizen science effort in collaboration with academia, such that the whole world gets more excited about what we can do together for the sake of science and medicine.
- This could offer other citizen science projects the ability to be associated with a foundational and long standing project like Eterna, thereby bolstering their own missions.
- As with bringing on anyone to do dev, proper vetting is still required, to prevent frustration on either side of the aisle. In other words, we must not seek and accept just any collaboration, but rather carefully choose one which has a high likelihood of success, so as not to waste anyone’s time.
- Professionals are busy, period. Therefore even though they may wish to help, this may be difficult to arrange due to either funding or time resource issues.
4. Hackathon / Reward Bounty
One way to solve issues rapidly and for a fixed cost, with guarantee of only paying for a successful delivery, is to hold a hackathon or other open contest in which there is a reward bounty issued to whoever solves the problems at hand.
- This limits liability of paying for services not rendered properly, by stipulating reward is not issued until viable solution is in hand.
- Increases visibility of and participation in the mission in general.
- Adheres to Feynman’s original principle of science explicitly needing new blood, new brains, new ideas and ways to solve a problem that may escape the few people currently working on it.
- While hackathons are most effective as on-site time-limited events, I explain the cons of on-site below. Therefore, note that the pro approach for our particular situation is likely to be not an on-site event, to reduce costs and soften the participation requirements.
- Requires organization - a time commitment I will have to think about before being able to commit to. However, I do understand the moving parts in such a venture, so I will consider organizing such a thing, or at minimum providing consultation on the major required points, as I did with the first eternacon.
- The quality of deliverables must be properly vetted before rewards are issued, though at least due to the inherent structure of this type of thing, there is no expectation of payment if issues are not truly resolved.
- These sort of things are most effective on-site. I can potentially help set this up in the heart of the beast ( silicon valley ), but I am not sure I myself would like to be on-site to manage the event, and there are of course major costs with doing on-site that would require further funding or negotiation for donation. Not impossible, but also not something I can guarantee that I myself have time for.
- IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want to step up and do this, that is great, but if you have not run a large scale ( 50+ ) hackathon before, you will need explicit instructions on event coordination ( and accommodation considerations if on-site ), as well as how to structure rules and expectations of participants. I can potentially help advise, or better yet please do find clear advice from someone else who has run these kind of events before proceeding. I myself have only peripheral / supportive experience helping run these events, and have not been a sole organizer before, though I am aware of the basic moving parts, and have colleagues I can consult with if necessary.
- This sort of event requires much tighter organization than a normal convention to keep everything running smoothly, and has much higher risk of failure if not done correctly. This sort of event also tends to draw in press attention, and we would be asking for the participation of new people who are giving of their time and skills. It would require preliminary fundraising, and be like an intensive player dev session, in the public light. Therefore, I would only proceed with this if it truly looks like a good fit, with a concrete agenda.