Wednesday, January 02, 2013

The Company Video Repo

I was recently making a couple of screencasts at work, and they were of the kind that were magnitudes better at explaining that writing the stuff down, or explaining it orally.

I've also been thinking a lot about how companies like Github try to do all their work asynchronously. The prime example for this is the [idea - mockup/spike/code - pull request] cycle, aka. "every change is a pull request":


From idea to pull request
Now, I've always had a little distaste for electronic communication over things like issue trackers, chat and email when there are so much richer channels available, with face-to-face with whiteboard being the best.

But what if we could just enrich the async channels with this rich media?
A little while ago, I  tweeted that it would be cool to leave a video message or screencast behind with every commit. (Yes, a bit like lolcommits, except it's not just for fun.)

What if we had a repository of videos where it was super easy to upload these things, and reference them in our commit messages, wiki-articles, mails and other documentation/communication?
It's getting easier and easier these days. You can do Google+ Hangouts and record conversations. Instant upload of screencasts to YouTube (also private videos). I'm sure there are a whole bunch of enterprise products that also serve this purpose, but as the technology matures, it will become more mainstream for companies to have their own video vaults, just as they have their own company blog and wiki today.


We still need to make it easier. Buy software for capturing screencasts, get good webcams and microphones, etc.


At several companies I've worked, we would have regular all-hands meetings, where everyone would be gathered into one room and people would present current projects, tech-talks, etc. Needless to say, not everyone felt they had to be there, and especially not right there and then.

What if the speakers could just record it and stream it out on the go, or archive it so people could watch it at their own leisure? Makes sense to me. A lot of large companies like Google are doing this already, but a lot of smaller companies haven't even considered it.

Of course, anything which is async is one-way, and therefore loses the interaction and a lot of value in being so. Then again, you save a lot by not dragging people into meetings, or interrupting them for conversation.

Meetings and conversations still have their place. But we live in a world where being able to work remotely is becoming more and more important, not just for people who want to work from home, but also for companies that want to be able to scale across time-zones, and save the time and gas-money of their employees. Not to mention the environment.