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  • Writer's pictureBen

Quests of 2024 (Q1)

Last year we've focused on merging the two organizations and getting the product development going. By now we have a somewhat working process in place for it. Now that's in a good shape, the team has come together to agree what to work on throughout 2024. These are the quests we intend to go on this year.


👉 I've recently explained the concept of quests as the way we structure our work at Acter. If you haven't read that yet, I recommend you do to understand what follows next.


Product

We had a really good last quarter, the quest drove our focus and we've built out some great chat and space infrastructure, we shipped Notifications and super_invites.


For building the product our main quests for this quarter are:


  • Smooth Unique Products: Out focus on chat led to other main features, like Updates, Pins, and Events falling behind. This quarter we want to build them out fully and make them shine as well. This includes the Notifications and Activities-Sections as well. These need thorough product definitions as well.

  • Stabilization & Resilience: We found ourselves repeatedly fixing things that already worked, often because of slight behavioral changes in the undelying components. Too often we didn't notice that for a while and only got them reported by users. This quarter, we want to spend a good amount of time on building up resilience; not only fixing these bugs but building up a suite of end-to-end-UI tests that are run by the CI to ensure certain things never break, or if they do, we notice it early.

  • Onboarding: We got some thing going in the last quarter, most notably super_invites, but we are not where we want to be yet. In here we cover any aspect hindering people from successfully onboarding, either themselves or their community members. As building out our community on Acter, we intend to dogfood anything we do. This also includes translations and internationalization and potential onboarding- or welcome wizards or bots.

We will also venture on a few side quests :

  • Bugs & Stability, Clean UI: We are still seeing a few bugs and glitches here and there. We intend to take time and care to fix them and others that come up, of course. Ideally, these already feed with their tests into the growing test suite.

  • Tech Debt: There are a few FIXMEs we want to get rid of but the biggest part of tech debt is our ffi-gen-layer in between. We are hoping to get the first version of uniffi-dart, our implementation based on gecko macros, ready this quarter. Next to that we intend to streamline our UI components and build up a reusable common widget library.


All these quests are already in our public Github product project:


With all that, after this quarter we anticipate working on Switching over to uniffi-dart, for which a large test suite will be super helpful(!); once that is ready, we want to consider switching to sliding-sync; we might work out a first integration that interacts nicely with our unique products and start on that; and we hope we can implement a lab feature to offer first users encrypted acter spaces and start collecting feedback.


Pending further funding (see below), we might also venture out into off-grid-land: starting the research project of offering all these communications features in a peer-to-peer-style mesh-network system that doesn't require DNS or any internet connection.


Communications

Because we were very busy with merging the companies and building out a first iteration of the app, we didn't communicate that much publicly in the past. That is going to change this year.


As you've already noticed we intend to publish a lot more blog posts, being transparent with what we are up to but also in the way that we work. We #buildinpublic and take this hashtag seriously. In the future, you will learn more about topics, discussions, and obstacles that other companies prefer not to communicate to the outside world. We will publish more about this and the #buildinpublic movement here shortly.


Acter is more than a special type of App, the way we structure the organization (as a people-working-on-it-lead community-driven non-profit) and the way we work all is pretty different and we want to discuss what we are doing here.


But Acter also isn't just about "us". We feel there is a big gap between civic organizing and tech right now that needs to close. That's why we are starting our...


The Digital Activist - Podcast for a new movement

Focusing on the intersection of organizing and tech we are planning to have a guest every month that sheds some light into their corner of this space. If you have a specific topic you want us to cover, or can introduce us to an interesting guest for this, please reach out any time. The first episode is already in the works, expect it to land in February. Stay tuned!


Community

As already hinted towards above we want to build out Acter as a great online (mobile-first) community (building) app. While you join a group for the purpose, we all know, that everyone sticks around because of the people:: "it is fun and fulfilling to work with them". Replicating those social bonds and relationships is harder in online spaces. While we believe Acter's sweet spot will be in the space of partial online-offline groups, onboarding and using Acter needs to be a rewarding experience for communities to grow.


In the first quarter we will focus on getting those features ready for primetime in the app but also the infrastructure around it and start using them to help us engage the existing community. Over this year we intend to expand on that and offer more ways to engage and contribute even more directly, through co-creative and feedback sessions. We want this to become a community-driven project and invite everyone to become a supporter or active contributor.


Operations

This though also feeds into operations. While the last focus has very much been on the "internal" us, this year operations will focus on stabilizing what we have by filling certain operations roles (that the board is currently taking care of on the side as well) and getting both the employee-side but also the "open collective" -side into a functional shape. We will have our first General Assembly in April (open to all supporters as well) and will vote on some legally binding structure measures. Among other things, we are actively improving the work processes to facilitate volunteer contributions better and allow for more community-driven in- and output.


Funding & Partnership

With the current financial backing from our existing partners and supporters, we have secured resources to sustain our entire team in the short term.While our long-term goal is to achieve self-sustainability through supporter contributions, the nature of our work involves substantial upfront costs. Therefore, sustained support from partners and funders remains crucial, particularly as we aim to expand our team, enhance operational efficiency, and delve into larger projects such as off-grid organizing.

If you want to support what we do, you can become a contributing supporter yourself  or if you are an organization interested in supporting our work, we would love to engage in a dialogue.





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