25 July 2011

Where to start

This weekend, Shawn and I went for a walk and talk and took a bunch of photographs in downtown Austin. One of the main topics of conversation was Mastery Quest, and how we get started.

As you probably know, I have a strong emotional connection to the area of software development, and am committed to helping to improve the learning and recognition in that space. I've been wondering, though, whether that area is the right one for us to start in.  It's large, complex, has many nuances, lots of languages and environments and platforms. Is that too big for us to bite off right out of the gate?

Shawn, not being a techie, and sharing my love of photography, posed the question "How about if we start with photography?" While it's got no less nuances and richness than software development, it does seem to me to allow for a much easier start. It's an art, a craft, a science, an avocation, a career choice...

And as with software development, there are also many sites out there that already contain some part (even in some cases LARGE parts) of what we'd like to see as part of Mastery Quest.

Consider the Digital Photography School. It offers/they offer tips, challenges, a community. And the Photography Forum, which offers many of the same things. At this point in time, I would readily recommend either to someone who wants to learn about photography. What I feel they lack, however, is the combination of fun and structure that we want to create. There's no shortage of information or challenge. However, if I come along and say "I want to improve a bit every week, and I want to focus on certain areas," it's entirely up to me.

That's not a bad thing. Don't misunderstand me. I think it's important for each of us to take responsibility for our own growth and development and learning. But I also think it's important to integrate the lessons from gaming.

What I'd like to see us do is partner with these sites and figure out how to incorporate the lessons and tips and challenges they've created into a larger framework/structure. A lot of it is already there. Now let's add the fun, and the "experience points", and the recognitions.  Not prizes and awards, but recognition of things accomplished through avatars and badges and such.

What do you think? 

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