2013-03-08

Coderbits - Gamified CV for Developers and Designers


coderbits logo
coderbits logo © 2013 coderbits

I was recently invited to the closed beta of a new service called coderbits by Scott Smith - Founder and CEO of coderbits. According to the site's backstory, its purpose is to improve verifiability of the skills, traits, and knowledge of software developers and designers. It attempts this by essentially collecting and analysing great amounts of data from many of the user's profiles across the web.


My coderbits profile
My coderbits profile as of 2013-03-07T18:30:00Z.

Coderbits supports a shockingly large number of services and is still working to support more. If your work history is published on LinkedIn, your design portfolio on Behance, and your code contributions on various repository hosts like GitHub, Bitbucket, Google Code, Sourceforge, and Codeplex, it becomes pretty clear that presenting and validating all your skill data to potential business partners is not a simple task. The challenge of profiling all of these skills is compounded by adding into this mix the emergence of next-generation education services such as Coursera, Codecademy, P2PU, and Code School as well as communication skills expressed across various social media platforms such as Twitter and blogs.

Coderbits makes this process painless. My first impression upon seeing the cross-site account connection page was astonishment. I hadn't even heard of many of these sites. After plugging in my already existing profiles, I began exploring and finding many interesting services. Data from all these sites contribute to scores for different skills, traits, and expertise.

Oh, and it also has possibly one of my favourite features of any service (gamer at heart): achievements!

The coderbits badge gallery displays achievements unlocked by the user.

Badges are awarded for demonstrating various levels of skill and dedication. One design aspect I find quite interesting is the relation between badges and traits. Each badge is associated with a trait: Ambition, Self Development, Influence, Productivity, or Knowledge. Earning badges contributes to the main profile's breakdown of the user's traits. In this way, one would strive to earn badges as a way to improve one's overall personality profile.

Since coderbits is in closed beta, a beta invitation key is required to join. Those interested can follow this link to gain access using my invitation key. There are unlimited beta keys as of the time of this publication, and there's no monetary cost to users. If you're a software developer or a designer of any kind, I highly recommend giving this service a try.

2013-03-05

Preparing for Camp NaNoWriMo April 2013

Today, the new Camp NaNoWriMo 2013 website was deployed and along with it some new features which change the fundamentals of the game. One new feature in particular stands out to me as having both desirable and undesirable qualities. The challenging objective that has defined the very meaning of NaNoWriMo - to write 50 000 words in 30 days - has been altered.

Now, it is up to each participant to set a personal word count goal. By lowering the barrier to victory, a wider variety of individual are encouraged to participate in this year's events. On the downside, however, the statement "I won the Camp NaNoWriMo challenge" becomes less meaningful. In the past, this statement meant something very clear: "I wrote a 50 000-word novel manuscript in 30 days." Now, at best, it means something that, while still commendable, is less definitive and impressive: "I set a word count quota and achieved it."

Thankfully, @NaNoWriMo on Twitter verified that the annual NaNoWriMo challenge in November will remain at a static 50 000-word goal.
"We like the flavor of NaNoWriMo Classic so much in November. The 50K will stand to test some mettle." ~ @NaNoWriMo
In that sense, Camp NaNoWriMo has essentially been redefined as more of a set of training sessions preparing writers for the primary NaNoWriMo event. I can live with that.
I'm still going to set my goal to 50 000 words, however. Last November, during NaNoWriMo 2012, I had practically no creative writing experience and only the knowledge extracted from some books on the craft. I ended up getting sloppy halfway through the manuscript and finishing with a measly 26 363 words.

Since then, I've been training my speed, creativity, and endurance using a very useful tool: a program called Write or Die, written by Dr Wicked. I could write an entire article about this simple, yet effective software. Through a combination of "negative reinforcement" and a cleverly designed user interface, Write or Die has helped me improve my writing in both speed and endurance. By forcing myself to let the words flow from my mind to my keyboard, I've managed to consistently write over 1500 words in each of 60-minute sessions. I'm impressed with how this training has stretched by creative impulse. Indeed, I plan to use this tool during the challenge as well.

As for the subject of my planned manuscript, I am yet unsure. It will certainly be some kind of fantasy fiction. I first looked toward high fantasy as that is where I feel most at home. However, I am currently leaning toward science fiction, building out characters who had been used in a non-literary past project of mine.

Regardless of the literary topic on which I settle, I must still undergo training and planning. All the while, I must juggle coursework on Coursera, pursue a potential software development work opportunity, and progress with my other creative explorations. The challenge makes the achievement at the end ever so much sweeter.