Should I build this in public?

Shavin Peiries Feb 21, 2021 5 min read

Update 20/04/2021 - I actually built it! Here's the story so far.

What if there was a place for indie hackers, marketers, writers and designers to use their personal experiences and what they believe in to consistently generate ideas that spark conversations on Twitter?

This idea/pitch has been sitting in my Basecamp projects for a while. I thought I'd expose it to get feedback.

This is the shaped work and my thinking towards solving the problem.

Here's the brief:

What's the problem?

I want to make more friends on Twitter by writing about the things I am learning about in [product development/marketing/strategy/memes] and do it consistently. But whenever I go on Twitter I am staring at a blank box or scrolling through my feed.

The ideas don't pop into my head unless I stumble upon something interesting in the real world that I want to share.

This is a scratch your own itch problem that I'm trying to solve but hopefully, you can relate to it.

Here's a form-context diagram to understand how my struggles would affect the form (UI).


What's the motivation for solving the problem?

To encourage more serendipitous interactions on the internet. Specifically on Twitter.

"Serendipity is a state of mind. Serendipity births unexpected opportunities which fuel progress and push us in fruitful directions. By maximizing serendipity, you’ll accelerate your progress." - David Perell

However, without putting your ideas out into the real world and doing it consistently, it's (obviously) impossible to make it happen.

What is the current baseline to solve this problem?

Whenever I am working on something and I gain an interesting insight, I go on Twitter to share my thoughts.

Here's a quick CSR diagram to conceptualize the problem

The Abstract Idea

Jack Butcher of Visualize Value introduced an excel spreadsheet called [the prolific production matrix] to compile ideas for content generation.

The gist of the prolific product matrix is to set tent poles around your values, themes & beliefs and experiences. These constraints will allow you to "come up" with ideas easily. Rather than waiting for an insight whilst working, you can artificially create a scenario for an insight to occur.

For example:

If I had to talk about Focus (Theme/Belief) with Mental Shifts (Experience), I could talk about:

  • "Focusing on what matters is like being a precision sniper. Focusing on too many things leads to shooting from the hip with the off chance that you might hit something."
  • "The future of internet popularity depends on how focused you are on what you do and the value that you add."
  • "Doing 1 thing right > doing 10 things at once"
  • "Trying to fit every feature under the sun with the hope of people liking it paradoxically leads to nobody liking it because you did too much"

The idea of this product is to systemize the prolific production matrix with a neat little twist:

I've introduced something called "sessions".

You can do a normal session for casually drafting up ideas or a timed session to force yourself into creating multiple ideas without editing them too early.

When you're in a timed session you'd have come up with 8 ideas in 1 min for an idea. So, you'll have a total of 8 ideas at the end of each session.

If you're familiar with the design thinking exercise called the Crazy 8s this mimics that.

After the 8 mins, you can then review the ideas and choose to tweet it or add a new idea to the stack.

The Breadboard (screens, connections and actions)

If it's too small to read: right-click > open image in a new tab.

The Fat marker sketches of the idea

Note that a normal session isn't timed

The appetite for this idea:

4 weeks to ship.

We define an appetite so that the time to ship remains fixed but the scope of the work varies. This is to encourage executors to make cuts where necessary in order to get the work into the real world.

I've put it here because some ideas that could be used to expand this product won't fit in it.

So, what won't fit the appetite but would make a great inclusion for the future?

  • Hook up to GPT-3 to 'suggest' ideas when you're in sessions (supplements the creative process and doesn't take away from it).
  • Favourite tweets/ideas
  • Structure/style of the idea during the timed sessions. I left this out of the first iteration but definitely a good constraint to bring in later.
  • Queue up ideas to share it on to the feed automatically. Not as comprehensive as other schedulers but one that gets the job done.
  • Gamification of ideas generated each day/week/month (maybe) to keep users consistently using the product.

What needs to be in appetite?

Onboarding flow (values → beliefs → experiences → new session → review session → home)

Learnings from early prototypes (fitness test)

I ran an experiment using post its and a timer to try out "sessions" as a minimum viable experience and here's what I found out:

  • I had to keep checking how many I've done. The count is important.
  • When the timer runs out I want to be able to complete my idea without it abruptly moving on to the next one.
  • Sometimes I write a little bit and then I want to move to the next idea. Which means to not wait until the timer hits 0.
  • If I am in the flow state by 8 ideas, I want to be able to add extra ideas to the stack before ending a session.

Who'd use it?

The early adopters will be members of the visualize value community as they are already aware of the prolific production matrix.

The purpose of this product is to encourage serendipitous interaction. That's the motivation. The ultimate goal for this product for me is to see someone use it to connect ideas together and share it with someone who might find it useful.

I'm still in the exploratory phase but do let me know if this strikes you as something interesting that I should build in public on Twitter!

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