Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Watercooler Wednesday #16 - Focusing our Direction

Choosing a direction can be hard.

At the end of last week, we had a meeting where we identified several things that we needed to do next:
  1. Get country and state level historical boundaries for the United States and Great Britain from 1700s onward in the Open Place Database
  2. Put a place and shape editor in the Open Place Database
  3. Index Ancestry.com's catalog
  4. Flesh out and refine the experience for the Find-A-Record Chrome Plugin
  5. Polish the findarecord.com/app experience, paying particular attention to the text and format of the results to make them self explanatory and useful to our target audience.
We had too many things that need to be done now and not enough people to do them. So we had to choose and focus on the most important ones. Here is what we did.
  1. Took five minutes and reviewed our overall direction. We affirmed that it was to continue to refine the experience in Find-A-Record until we nailed it.
  2. Discussed and decided what our current shorter-term focus was. We decided that it was to properly index and display data that mapped to large areas (countries, states, and counties). You can read more about this in a previous blog post.
  3. Listed the requirements and their dependencies for accomplishing our short term focus:
    • Search on and display polygons in our results page at findarecord.com/app
    • Before we can search on polygons, we must have them indexed in Neo4j
    • Before we can index polygons in Neo4j, we must be able to geocode collections to shapes when indexing them
    • Before we can geocode to shapes, we must have them available via the Open Place Database API
    • Because the data currently available for the Open Place Database is either incomplete or poor quality, we need an editor for adding and modifying data
So we're creating an editor for the Open Place Database this week which will eventually allow us to geocode collections with shapes for an optimal experience at Find-A-Record.

Deciding on our short term focus took some time to figure out, but we were able to finally make a decision by reaffirming what our long term company focus and direction was.

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