Peer Loft is looking for folks to be early alpha testers of our software come the new year. Being an alpha we have some requirements that potential candidates need to fulfill otherwise they either won’t be able to use the system or they won’t give us the type of feedback we really need. We put out an early call for design studios to apply to become testers but only got a sprinkling of responses. We really believe strongly in what Peer Loft’s promise offers. On the other hand we are nervous as to whether or not we have the right implementation to solve the real problems we believe we’ve identified.
So what problem is Peer Loft trying to solve?
To talk about the problem, one must understand the context of the design studio. There are many components that make a studio works. The space is probably the key element, but it is what the space allows that is important. Yes, it is open with limited obstructions. And yes, it has tons of space for making visible ongoing work at various stages of development.
But why? What do we gain from this grand open space with opportunities for visibility? To undertand this we need to understand how creativity works and how design like arts & crafts and art before it harness this understanding. Creativity is a process of associating against a combination of both historical experience and real-time influence & inspiration that is passed through the filter of principles, goals, and contexts. The open space’s goal is then twofold. First, it gives us visibility so we can be influenced and inspired in high volume. Then is requires that we have constant visibility into our collected wisdom to reflect those new ideas against.
Being a physical space, it has a huge advantage over existing systems of collaboration, communication, and knowledge management: passivity. The visibility allows for passive and active interaction. The artifacts being interacted with are available without the requirement for a request, notification, or invitation.
In the virtual world of collaboration tools, regardless of how well meaning towards being designer-centered, miss this very important point. The system needs to be first and foremost (but not limited) a passive system. It cannot require intervention as its primary mode of interaction to successfully model itself after the designer’s studio.
Others have discovered this problem in the past for two reasons. The first is our interaction with the screen as our primary work environment as designers today. There are very few design and other creative activities done within practice and education that is not focused squarely on screens within a 2ft radius from our eyes. This has caused us to loose peripheral vision in the standard digital studio. Yes, we have passive moments of interference and contribution usually while walking around, but these are fewer than they were before the age of digital design tools. Further, a greater number of studios are distributed over distances that prevent visibility in the same way one gets when being co-located.
So what does Peer Loft do? We use the increased network speed, its pervasive availability, increased screen resolution coupled with multi-screen/device eco-systems, and cloud architectures on top of thick application programming to allow designers to re-enter the classical design studio so they have ultimate passive visibility and expanded peripheral vision. In this way they can amplify their organization’s peripheral vision.
Embedded here (below) is a presentation of our vision for how we achieve the intent and culture of a studio in the virtual space.
This video is an early example of our vision. All the components are still there, but they have been both refined and executed more roughly in our alpha release. For example we will not have an iPad version for the alpha, but we can imitate the expected behaviors by using support tools. The current look of the application is also more in line to standard Mac OS X guidelines and less customized.
If the concept intrigues you and you want to be considered as an alpha tester, please fill out the application. All approved applicants will get a demo of our current system so they can make amore educated decision as to whether being an alpha tester is appropriate for both your studio and Peer Loft. Feel free to send us questions.
Peer Loft’s social network connections can be found at http://peerloft.com/ .