nReduce: Virtual team meetings

I’m participating in the awesome new ‘open source incubator’ that is nReduce. And, I’m plugging: my team’s project is Soapbox, if anyone is looking for a real-time polling service that lets you embed dynamic results with javascript, sign up, we’ll keep you posted.

Anyway, one of the issues we encountered is a direct result of being a ‘virtual’ team. This was one of the factors that is awesome about nReduce, anyone can get in, from any location. But that perk is simultaneously an extreme challenge, as it’s distinctly more difficult to interface with other teams if you can’t participate in a physical weekly meeting.

My proposal for addressing this (for which I share credit with the individuals who were in the “Hang out” room on 2012-06-12 around 18:30 Pacific time) is to create a number of virtual rooms that represent time zones. For example, I created the following open rooms:

  • Virtual Meeting GMT-0400 (EDT)
  • Virtual Meeting GMT-0500 (CDT)
  • Virtual Meeting GMT-0600 (MDT)
  • Virtual Meeting GMT-0700 (PDT)

I recommend that next week we stick with Tuesday evening at 18:30, and Virtual teams for whom 18:30 is convenient in a given time zone, show up in the corresponding time zone’s Virtual Meeting room. For example, Pacific Time is convenient for me (although I do not reside in a location abiding by Pacific time), hence I will likely be in the “Virtual Meeting GMT-0700 (PDT)” room at 18:30 PDT, next Tuesday.

I only created for the continental US. This is partially because I’m lazy, and also because there are several meeting rooms already created for non-US hub cities. If you are in another time zone, and want to feel for interest, please do not hesitate to create more rooms. For the sake of clarity in the Lobby, please use the same format that I used (or provide a good reason to alter it, and we can change all of them).

This is a work in progress; if you enter a room at the appropriate time and no one is around, please consider moving to the next time zone after an hour to see if teams are available to talk. If it turns out that the 18:30 time is inconvenient for a lot of virtual teams, then we can alter it and make changes to these rooms as necessary. I only hope that this implementation reduces ambiguity, and allows teams for whom a particular time is convenient to meet and discuss progress. If the GMT-0700 teams decide that they ultimately need to meet at 04:30 PDT for whatever reason, so be it. But at least for the next couple of weeks, it would be productive for the virtual groups to meet at 18:30 for a particular time zone. This gives us all a few concrete times from which to choose, and we can be sure everyone is building contacts and can get feedback when they need it.

The nReduce team has been great so far, and I’m pleased with the experience to date. I hope I’m not overstepping my bounds here, and if nReduce comes out with some other recommendations, this may all disappear. Nonetheless, this is what we came up with in the Hang Out, and I’m detailing it here in hopes that it will save other groups time and effort. Everyone please leave comments/concerns/recommendations here, @nw_iw, or with the Soapbox team on the nReduce site.

Keep on collaborating, keep on coding, keep on shipping.

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