Flying Meat is the software company behind VooDooPad, my latest favorite application ever. VooDooPad is one of those transformational technologies that do one small but crucial thing so incredibly way that they change the whole way you work.
In this case, what VooDooPad does is to give you one place to put all your notes — all those random files that are currently scatterred across your computer as Word files, stickies, Outlook/Entourage notes, text files, draft emails, draft blog posts, etc. That’s if you’re like me — the old me, I mean, pre-VDP.
Now all my notes are in one place: a single VooDooPad document that lets me create a new page for every random thought, to-do list, set of questions, document in progress, telephone call, chunk of code I need to hold onto, idea for an article, etc etc. I have categories for all my projects so I can assign each page to the right category or categories, and find it again easily. Wiki-style hyperlinks mean my pages can link to related pages, and that I can find those related pages using the “backlinks” feature. Awesome search means anything that doesn’t jump out at me from backlinks or categories is still easy to find.
But as much as I love VooDooPad, I think I may love Flying Meat even more. As far as I can tell, Flying Meat consists of August “Gus” Mueller, a software developer who could teach public participation types a thing or two about community engagement. Here’s what I’ve learned from Gus:
Ask for input. VooDooPad has a “report a bug/feature request” option built into its help menu, and on its website. That means that whenever you think to look for more information, you’ll be prompted to give feedback at the same time.
Let the public set the agenda. VooDooPad’s bug reporting interface doesn’t force you into a box that corresponds to their work process instead of yours. It’s just a message box that lets you type in an email, and (optionally) note whether it’s a bug or suggestion.
Responsiveness encourages communication. When I filed my first feature request, I got an e-mail from Gus just a few hours later. That personal and informative response made me feel like my input was heard and valued, and has encouraged t has encouraged me to provide further input, and created what I hope is a virtuous circle (or from Gus’s perspective, spam.)
Information fuels commitment. When Gus responded to my e-mail, he didn’t just thank me for my ideas — he actually provided some more information about the software to help it work better for me. By providing me with some value (in the form of a use tip) in return for my input, Gus has motivated me to continue participating in his user community by providing further feedback.
Transparency counts. As incisive and useful as my input may be, Gus hasn’t just taken it all with a thank you and you’ll see it in the next upgrade. By sharing his reservations about some of my suggestions he’s increased his credibility, and my interest in further communication.
Names count. Would I have sent an e-mail to PersonalNoteWiki or McWiki or YourNotesInc? Who knows. But there’s something about a company called “Flying Meat” that screams open doors and open minds. And of course, flying meat.