August 14, 2013
Flickr Cofounder Wants To Cut Workers Some Slack
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The new tool, which launched today, will provide messaging, file-sharing and universal search across multiple platforms for people working on projects. The software allows for one-on-one messaging, as well as group chats, which can be organized by topic, ReadWrite reports. The company developed the tools that comprise Slack in-house to manage communication when it was building the online game Glitch, the article said.
Details on Slack are currently slim. However, the motto, "Be less busy," does show the company's aim to minimize issues that come up with projects are divided among multiple workers. That is, communication gaps that can cause duplication in work, or worse, let tasks fall through the cracks.
The company is offering a limited preview release, and asking companies to sign up with an email address and company name. Invites will be seeded out to registrants as the company is able to, uh, pick up the slack on demand.
Slack is a project of Tiny Speck, a company founded by Butterfield and a handful of early Flickr employees, TechCrunch reports. The company consists of 45 people in two offices and several remote workers, suggesting that the app has been well-tested. That means that building Slack, and any other projects at Tiny Speck, probably made good use of the system by running projects through Slack itself.
According to Forbes, Slack is a collaboration app designed for teams of engineers, designers, marketers or project managers. Any work group could benefit from the collaboration features of the app. It works across most platforms, including Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad and Android. This means a distributed and on-the-go workforce can check in and manage tasks from any platform, and from just about anywhere. The company logo is a colorful version of a hashtag, which is used throughout the platform.
"The dominant metaphor of Slack is hashtags, down to the service's logo. But these hashtags aren't derived from Twitter, which popularized the idea of marking topics with the '#' symbol. Rather, it goes back to Internet Relay Chat, or IRC, a communication protocol popular with coders that has long used the '#' sign to denote channels," Owen Thomas from ReadWrite wrote.
Slack also draws from several other systems already out there.
"There are smart integrations -- a nod to the people 'scattered across different systems' that Butterfield describes -- with Google Docs, Dropbox, GitHub, SVN and Perforce (Source control / repository), Twitter (Social network), Crashlytics (Crash reporting), HelpScout and ZenDesk (Help Desk), Wufoo (Form building), Nagios (IT monitoring), Trello (Project management), Heroku (Cloud infrastructure as a service), Hubot (Messaging bot), Phabricator (Software management) and Travis (Testing / Continuous Integration). This means that users can track -- and most significantly search -- across all of what they may do in these different programs, once a user has created a link between files in one program and Slack," TechCrunch's Ingrid Lundgren wrote.
Butterfield founded Tiny Speck after leaving Yahoo -- post Flickr acquisition -- in 2008. The company created a multiplayer game called Glitch, which it shut down in November 2012, presumably to work on Slack.