Dec 15th, 2009
In September, I received a cryptic email: “We are interested in hiring Mr. Aaron Hillegass for a 1 week event in Italy from December 6 to 13 2009 related to iPhone development. The goal of this event is to document how to develop an iPhone App in detail. Signed, Alessio Zito Rossi.” My response was essentially “What … uh … what?”
Mr. Rossi, I would gradually figure out, had decided to put together a team of iPhone programmers and designers to develop an iPhone app in one week. And his team would film the whole process. And he wanted me to lead the team.
I had lots of questions: What did the app do? Who was coming? Who was going to watch the film? The answer was always, “We will see.”
The whole enterprise seemed rather weird, but I signed up. If this was going to happen, I figured that I would rather be at the helm than watching from the sidelines.
Having now spent a week with Alessio, I now know why it seemed so weird: Alessio had no idea what was going to happen, and he was completely OK with that. Usually, when I do a gig, the client wants to know exactly what is going to unfold. Alessio was willing to write the checks, stir the pot, and hope for something great. I think he pulled it off. (Alessio Zito Rossi, it should be mentioned, is not a crackpot — he is, in fact, the CEO of a telecom company.)
He sent me an airplane ticket, and I flew to Venice. The rest of the team trickled in from every corner of the world. Each had written a successful iPhone application, and each had signed up for this crazy thing.
Us, left to right:
- Jim Matthews (New Hampshire) – Fetch (ok, not an iphone app)
- David Hodge (Los Angeles) – iBart
- Matej Bukovinski (Slovenia) – LPPbus
- Eddie Wilson (Richmond, Virginia) – SnowReport
- Jonathan Badeen (Los Anglese) – FastCapture
- Peter Watling (New Zealand) – BubbleWrap
- Emanuele Vulcano (Milan) – Mover
- Max Schönig (Berlin) – CloudApp
- Steve Shi (Bejing) – Louis Vuitton Soundwalk
- Matteo Caldari (Italy) – TimeTheDistance
We were all a bit disoriented. I think each of us thought the others must know more about what we came to do. This much we knew:
- We were to write a social media application called wikimeety — the T-shirts had already been made. (What is it supposed to do? Anything we wanted.)
- There would be cameras on us the entire time, and the video would be streamed live onto the viewers on the internet. (Who was going to watch it? Anyone could. Perhaps no one would.)
What happened? You can watch the highlights.
It was a pleasure to work for a week with this team. Each was a good engineer and a good man. We worked together at least 12 hours per day and ate all our meals together. I didn’t hear an unkind word the entire week.
In the end, our plan relied too much upon a PHP developer who abandoned the project 4 hours in. We did the submission process, but after some testing and debate decided to pull the flawed binary. I hope we can put the last few finishing touches on it over the next month or so.
The source code for the entire app is available at http://commandguru.svn.beanstalkapp.com/wikimeety/ (You can check it out using Subversion.)
I would like to send a big shout out to everyone involved in this project; it was an absolute delight to work with all of you. In particular, I want to thank Alessio for picking me to lead the team. It was a great honor, and I hope I did my role justice.