Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Changelog for March 29

Spring break was last week, but that didn't stop us from getting some things done.

Big stuff:
* Email notifications: You can now choose to have Pipeline send you email notifications of your choice. To edit your notification preferences, go to your profile page and look for the Preferences panel. Current notification options include:
- notify when your application to join a collab is reviewed
- notify when you are invited to join a collab
- notify when someone comments on your submission
More notification types will be added over time.
* Buttons: when you click a button, it will only submit the first time, no matter how many times you click the button. This should eliminate a number of issues we saw with people accidentally posting a comment multiple times, uploading the same file multiple times, etc.

Small stuff:
* File uploads and new comments are now added via a popup dialog box, consistent with adding new scenes and submissions and uploading profile pictures.
* Fixed a bug where users could delete submissions from the Overview tab. This is disabled now; the Overview is geared towards viewing, not editing.

In the works:
* We're working on an overhaul of comments and discussions. The new system will make it easy to have conversations, i.e., reply to specific people and stay on topic.

Pipeline demo at Georgia Tech, April 14

We'll be demoing Pipeline at the GVU Spring Research Showcase on April 14 at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. Details are here, and our title and abstract for the demo is here:

Pipeline: Exploring Leadership in Crowdsourced Movie Production
Crowdsourced movies -- created by volunteers collaborating over the Internet -- have won an Emmy Award, debuted at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, and screened at thousands of theaters across the United States. How are these movies made, how can technology be designed to support them, and what can they teach us about online creative collaboration more broadly? To address these questions, we first conducted a series of interviews with creators of crowdsourced animated movies called "collabs," focusing on the challenges for collab leaders. We then conducted a quantitative study looking at which factors influence collab success. Now, we're using these results to develop Pipeline, a web-based software tool for organizing crowdsourced movie projects. Pipeline supports a range of leadership styles, from democratic to benevolent dictator, and a variety of collaboration styles, from divide-and-conquer to improvisational. We plan to test Pipeline with real users to study how leadership and technological support affects the process and outcome of online creative collaboration.

Leading the Crowd

I've just posted a short essay, "Leading the Crowd," on the CHI 2011 Crowdsourcing and Human Computation workshop blog. The essay argues for the importance of effective leadership in crowdsourcing and briefly mentions Pipeline and our studies of crowdsourced movie productions. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Changelog for March 13

Lots of new fixes and features as a result of the Piggy's Bad Day test.

Big stuff:
* If you upload a video in a supported format (.avi, .mpg, or .mov) it will generate thumbnails and a streamable .flv file to make previewing easier. Formats that are already easy to preview (.flv and .swf) will also generate thumbnails. In lists of uploads, Pipeline will show an appropriate file format icon (if it has one) for uploads without thumbnails.
* You can now preview uploads of the above formats from either submission pages or the Files page.
* If a submission has multiple file attachments, it will show the thumbnail of the most recent attachment that has a thumbnail when the submission appears in lists (e.g. Scenes page). This "featured" thumbnail will also appear in large size at the top of the submission page. If there are no uploads or none with thumbnails, a placeholder image will appear there instead.
* Pipeline now displays text labels, in addition to icons, for panel actions, e.g. create, edit, delete. It also shows customized text labels when available, e.g. "Upload" (for files uploads) vs. "Create" (for new scenes).
* Scenes are now more visual, displaying thumbnails for every submission they contain.

Small stuff:
* Signing up for Pipeline generates a log event
* Fixed a bug preventing invitations to join collabs
* Fixed a problem with non-functional profile links on the Crew page
* "Speak Up" buttons renamed to "Submit" -- less awkward phrasing
* Panel buttons (create, edit, delete, etc.) easier to see
* Multi-file uploads disabled -- seemed to make the UI more complicated
* Pipeline now handles links to collabs or users that don't exist without crashing
* Max upload size changed from 30 MB to 100 MB per file
* "Play" image always appears over big thumbnail on submission page, not just on hover

Look for these changes to go live soon.

First collab test completed -- and successful

The first-ever Pipeline collab happened last week and, all things considered, it went pretty well! The collab was called "Piggy's Bad Day" and was a series of short videos documenting all the bad things that could happen to a stuffed pig that was sitting in Amy's office. Seven members of the lab signed up and submitted videos, and I (Kurt) led the collab. We had feedback sessions on March 3 and March 10 and screened a rough cut of the final movie at the start of the March 10 meeting. General impressions: better than anyone expected! Promising, but the bar for, and time invested in, our first project were pretty low.

Now our bug tracker is stuffed full of bug reports and feature requests... no shortage of coding to be done in the near future! Boris and I are excited to jump in and get back to work. Next step: a different kind of collab using lab members, then (or simultaneously) a collab with real animators! Exciting times!