A couple of weeks ago I heard about Testing On The Toilet, and initiative at Google where people hung up information about software testing on toilets. I liked the idea, and adopted it for our own key topics.
Testing On The Toilet (#TotT) was launched in 2007 by Google employees working in the area of software testing. They hung up flyers on Google toilets with information about how to write good software tests. The idea behind the flyers: they contain short but meaningful and easy to remember information. Each flyer only covers one sheet of paper, so its not too much to read. So far they have published dozens of flyers.
I loved the idea immediately – almost everyone goes to the toilet, so your coverage is almost perfect. Besides, each person can still decide on him/her own if its worth a read or not.
Not surprisingly, I decided to take over the idea – however, while the company I work for is situated right in the middle of Open Source software, writing software tests is not our main concern: Our key aspects are system integration and consulting. Think of improving database installations and maintaining enterprise scale server landscapes here. So most of the #TotT fylers do not really apply to us. But there are other things which are interesting and worth distributing, even if I have to create my own flyers.
Thus the idea of “Learning On The Toilet” – #LotT – was born. I just had to find proper information. I discussed the idea with my fellow project managers of my group of regulars, and it was suggested for an initial start to search the internet for suitable “top ten” lists. The idea stuck, and I gathered various lists in the next days. There was a list with tips for Vim, a cheat sheet concerning Selinux, nine points how to improve your communication skills, and others. I shortened the lists to each fit on one page, printed the first, and hung it on our toilets. And waited nervously for the first reactions: I didn’t tell anyone about the idea previously, and wasn’t sure if the sheets of paper would survive the first day.
But: they did! People read them! The feedback was positive – or about how to hang them better in the toilet, or that for example the refrigerator in the kitchen would be a good place as well. Also, some people mentioned that they would like to have this or that topic. But that meant the idea was positively received! I hardly got any bad feedback! That was great relief, and for now I decided to keep hanging up stuff.
The only problem is that there are so many information out there which are worth a read, but often the material does not fit to #LotT: its either too much to read, or too few real worthy information. Also, I’d love to publish the #LotT issues in my blog, but the copyright of the lists usually does not allow that.
So: if you have any good ideas regarding system integration in the Open Source world, just drop a note in the comments, and I will be happy to publish it here.