Johnny’s 100th post: time to evaluate

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Yesterday I posted an article about personas and found out that it was the 99th post on Johnny Holland. So being a superb mathematician I concluded that the next article must be the 100th, which is a great opportunity to recap what we’ve been doing in the last months… and what we’d want to do in the future.Johnny started off in October 2008 with the goal to become “an open collective talking, sharing and finding answers about the interaction between people and products, systems or processes.” We wanted to create a place where we could be open to each other and actually ask question and be curious again. And since that moment a lot has happened.

Besides the hours I spend every night chatting, mailing, reading and writing for Johnny here are some facts: At the moment we have 28 registered Johnnies contributing to Johnny. We’ve grown +100 RSS feeds per month and right now +600 people are linked to it. On a daily base 200-400 people visit the website. Right now we’ve got 100 articles published, with an average of two responses per post. So we are growing steadily.

But facts aren’t everything… so I asked my fellow Johnnies what Johnny brought them until now. This is a great way to promote the coolness of becoming a Johnny, and I didn’t delete any negative responses (there weren’t any – w00t). A few responses:

As a blogger it’s also forced me to elaborate on and articulate my thoughts, rather than just sending around links. – Vicky Teinaki

For me, Johnny represents a conscious re-alignment of my thinking around UX and the disciplines that come together to deliver those experiences to people. [Johnny's discussions] are well and truly embedded in the language, theory and practice of design of UX. To be involved in that discussion is a nice change of pace for me. – Steve Baty

“Being a Johnny” doesn’t feel like anything in particular. But I think that might be b/c JH is not [yet] really a community. [Johnny] is probably one of my favorite outlets for “published” writing. I like how “free” it is compared to other sites. The approachability is key. – Dave Malouf

Goal: becoming a true collective

We’ve grown faster than I could have wished for, but we’re not there yet. One of the most important things we wanted to achieve was becoming a true collective. Two responses per post is nice, but not really a true collective. We want to search for the conversation between writer and reader, getting everybody involved. Writing stuff that makes you think and respond. Some articles where we found the discussion we want were Discovery vs Creation, Deconstructing Analysis Techniques and Why shouldn’t I kill personas (where the discussion was the food for the article). But we’re searching for any means to lower the bar and get you guys involved. So if you have any ideas or suggestions, let us know.

What does the future look like?

Besides becoming a true collective we’ve got a lot of dreams and goals for the future. And instead of brewing them in a black box we want to share them with you, so that you can get involved if you want. Here are a few brainfarts we came up with:

  • Johnny TV: an online TV channel where we can share interviews and video columns
  • Johnny event: a real event where you guys can listen to talks, but also get actively involved in discussions and creative sessions
  • Johnny experiments: have an online place where all Johnnies can experiment with each other in an open way, sharing ideas and… experiments

Besides these three concrete ideas there were some other wishes. Some writers want to collaborate more in articles with others, making joint efforts. And one interesting and important direction is seeking the international character; publishing translations of non-English articles (Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Japanese, whatever). And last but not least: going to Interaction10 and meeting up with other Johnnies.

So stop lurking and begin discussing

Join Johnny (or something bad will happen to your Star Trek collection). This can be as an active writer, but just as well as an active responder. Give us your thoughts and opinion and feed your urge to learn. And for now, give us your input for the direction Johnny should take.

Jeroen van Geel

Jeroen van Geel is founder/chief kahuna of Johnny Holland and the interaction director at Fabrique [brands, design & interaction], a Dutch multidisciplinary design agency. You can follow him on Twitter via @jeroenvangeel.

4 comments on this article

  1. Congrats on the 100th post. You really have been growing steadily, building a valuable resource on UX and Interaction Design. The community will get there, but maybe you should tone done to a 10th grade language for those who are starting – they usually are the most passionate.
    With that in mind, it might be interesting if some behind the scenes / hands-on / tutorials were available.
    We’re all here for the play, one of the fundamentals of user-experience, so a few more toys like these wouldn’t hurt.

    Cheers for the next 100 posts.

  2. Congratulations!
    I really dig the idea of a Johnny event, but maybe the Johnny experiment and Johnny event could be combined. I would love that idea! Not just a standard conference with speakers, Q&A and some card-swopping afterward. Actively working together on something new, trying out new things, experiment!

    Rowan

  3. one of the more interestign moments for me of interaction09 was when John Thackara spoke up in the local leaders workshop (people who have started an ixda local group) about ways he’d found that worked to engage people beyond the normal ‘lets meet up and speak about the stuff we do, because we all do similar stuff’ type event.

    He suggested that designers could find it helpful (productive, insightful, inspiring.?) to meet around local things that required design.. eg get 3 taxi drivers to speak with your group about what their work is really like.. look at food production in your locale, etc etc

    maybe Johnny Event/experiment could take this approach? One (successful by the looks of it) example is the social innovation camp http://www.sicamp.org/

    Maybe planning something like this (in conjunction with ix10 even) could work well as the glue that collectives often require for them to hold together

  4. @armando: Thanks for that input. We definitely have to balance between serious articles and fun inspiration. If you have any suggestions on inspirational articles, let me know.

    @rowan: That’s a good idea. I have been walking around with a similar idea for some time… will have to take time to translate the ideas into actions. People coming together to actually brainstorm and create something, that’s great.

    @jeremy: Again, nice input. And I like the idea to maybe do something in conjunction with Interaction10… It would be great to have some of the workshops over there. And post the results on Johnny.

    @all: Superb feedback. Keep on bringing in ideas.