One of the biggest problems with working collaboratively is that we have to bridge the gap between asynchronous information gathering into synchronous mental congruity: how do we make sure everyone is on the same page, when they flip the pages at different times?
This problem is especially important when discussing possible times for the next meeting, as it is a chokehold in the next step. Everyone must know when an event is still in discussion, or when it is finished, or when something significant has changed—lest someone meets at the wrong time.
Event Administrator Secret Word
One way Schedulenaut solves this is by creating an event administrator secret world and allow users with that secret word to change information at notify others when changes have been made.
Schedulenaut utilizes an event administrator instead of having a guest with an administrator privilege since administration is a task, not a person—meaning that the role may change hands. Moreover, administrators of an event could be a secretary, or an aide, that is not actually going to be at the event.
Since a primary idea of Schedulenaut is to be lightweight and not require account creation, having an administrator secret word allows on the fly assigning of privelges, instead of having to go through the assigning process.
We also further simplify this feature for the user by representing it by the action it provides, not the tool itself. Secret words are not the ends for a goal but the means. Therefore, secret words are never asked independently, but rather asked when a feature is accessed that requires it for congruity (e.g. event settings, or when users are wanting to edit their availability).
Finalizing an Event
Schedulenaut also allows users to finally close an event and end discussion in order to turn a discussion platform into an invitation one, while at the same time keeping mental congruity for all guests. This is important as it reduces the friction of setting a meeting time by solving two problem: event setting, and event invitation.
Once an event has been finalized, users can only see functions such as sharing, something that was not available before since it would not make sense. Moreover, we hide all discussion in order to allow this invitation to go beyond the scope of the original guests involved in the time discussion (e.g. multiple teachers setting up an event for students).
Once an event has been finalized, it should not be easily change-able since that would break mental congruity for the guests. So we enforce the afforementioned event password to return it into disccusion mode. This provides the flexibility to correct for human errors, while making the barrier high enough to reduce congruity errors.
Privelege is actually a bigger problem than one originally anticipates in the context of congruity. Making sure things can only be changed at appropriate moments and not elsewhere is especially important in async environments where people are not constantly simultaneously updated on changes.
We will explore some more ways we can help mental congruity by providing multiple checkpoints through privelege in the next post.