Towards a Platform for Micromaterials

I’m currently trying to map out what the future looks like for micromaterials, and I’ve been kicking around a few thoughts:

  • it would be cool if there were a central place to discover all the micromaterials (like https://www.micromaterials.org/, but less restricted to just github)
  • it would also be very nice if this central place offered the functionality to track a user’s progress on micromaterials, on an opt-in basis
  • ideally, there would be a way to incentivize others to create micromaterials to be shared on this central platform

I still don’t really know what any of this looks like, but I’m leaning towards just starting to build it out myself and see what it ends up looking like.

Why a Platform?

I’ll just jump ahead to assuming that the whole idea of “micromaterials” is a good one and that it’s an obvious good thing to do, and further that everyone will agree and immediately jump on the bandwagon.

Now…provided that all turns out to be true…how do we get people more involved in it?

The whole idea works much better as an ecosystem, and I’m just gonna make up a number and say that if we had about 300 individual micromaterials in a particular domain (eg, web developer skills/abilities), then it would be past the threshold of likelihood for having a subset of exercises that any one person could benefit from.

So I’m guessing that 300 micromaterials = something people would actually want to use and benefit from.

Even just the smaller domain of web development within tech is still an incredibly massive and confusing space, and I would expect that different people have very different things they’d like to use micromaterials to learn/practice.

So if we take that “300” number, it’s very obvious that it would take me 10+ years to actually make that many myself. It’s an incredibly infeasible undertaking as a solo developer.

What if I hired a team? I could probably do it with a group of 3-5 working full-time, maybe within 3 years or so (that still feels massively optimistic), but then I’d need to actually pay them somehow. And it would take a much better pitch than I have (not to mention a business plan) to convince somebody to invest in an idea that has no current revenue model (and I’m not really doing it for profit anyway, moreso focused on how to make the idea happen and be sustainable).

An MVP for the Micromaterials Platform

So it probably needs to be an open-source platform that people can add to, change, and maybe even repurpose for their own ideas. I still have no idea what that really looks like, but it was pointed out to me that the absolute bare minimum that could be done to make it a reality is to essentially copy the sindre sorhous awesome list and just put something on GitHub.

So that’s what I did.

https://github.com/lpmi-13/micromaterials-list

This currently has none of the main benefits of an actual full-fledged platform (tracking of user performance, user dashboards on their own performance, automatic discovery of new micromaterials), but it’s a concrete first step.

  • anyone can access it
  • anyone can add to it
  • it’s a free resource

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