#publicNozbe – Public Nozbe Projects for Japanese people and everyone else

I normally reserve this blog for tecnical content only, but in the wake of the disaster in Japan I am making an exception.

As many of you might know, my wife is Japanese and I myself have lived in Japan for several years and some of my best and oldest friends are Japanese. Our family and the majority of our friends have been accounted for (sleepless nights over the weekend).
One uncle and his son and that son’s family live in Sendai (the largest city close to the epicenter of the quake) had close calls but we were able to hear from them after several days and know now for sure that they are all safe. Our cousin is a doctor and will likely be busier than a lowly IT consultant on a bad project for the foreseeable future even though his hospital was severely damaged (it was next to the Sendai airport) and he is now working at another hospital nearby. I am still trying to take all this in … well, more of that in the future.

You might also know that I am a great proponent of GTD and one of the tools I came across and have been using allot over the last few months is is NOZBE, along with EVERNOTE. This morning I received this mail from the CEO of NOZBE who had been traveling in Jan during the quake and has shown great personal initiative in his efforts to put his own capabilities forward and assist Japan in his own unique way.
Read through the mail (it is a bit longer than I normally post content, stick with it for now) and if interested have a look at NOZBE.COM, maybe it can give you a few ideas how you might be able to help our friends in Japan as well – any small action can make a world of a difference when it is applied at the right place at the right time.

Working together in trying times – power of community
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Hello Victor,Everyone who’s been following me on Twitter knows that I’m in Japan right now. Not the safest place to be currently. I came here to tour Nozbe and meet Nozbe users but the Earthquake changed everything… and although I initially wasn’t sure how, Nozbe will help.

Japanese people need help… and information. That’s what they’ve been asking on Twitter.
My dear friend Kurazono Keizo-san who is traveling with me told me, that people in Japan don’t panic, they share information… and asked me how we can help with this. Then it struck me – why not let Nozbe users create public projects so that people can follow simple to-do lists and just get things done with their smartphones (and Japanese people have lots of these) without any signups, for free.

#publicNozbe – 24 hours from idea, public consultation and coding to launch in Japan

My mum (concerned about me) sent me a list of things to do when there is an earthquake and I sketched the first version of the public project feature – a free, sharable project:

Publicnozbe sketch

Then I brainstormed this idea with Kurazono Keizo-san – my good friend, Japanese Nozbe power-user and author of the Nozbe book. He loved it and we proceeded to consult it with Japanese people. We held an informal event in Apple Store in Fukuoka (thanks Shizuo-san for hosting us!) and Japanese social-media people from Fukuoka loved the idea:

Apple Store Brainstorm

What followed was a dinner, another brianstorming session and coding. Lots of coding… and done by yours truly! Already before the event I asked my great CTO Tomasz for preparing the ground-work for me (on a Saturday morning European time!). After discussing the feature with Japanese social-media experts I came back to the hotel at around 11 pm Japanese time with a big Starbucks Latte (Tall) and started coding based on the groundwork my CTO left for me.

Coding #publicNozbe overnight

At 3 am Kurazono Keizo-san came to my room and he explained how the Japanese guys already started work on Facebook. He posted about the idea on his blog, too. And he brought me some warm Japanese tea.

At 4 am I had the first version of the page working, went to bed for 3 hours and woke up at 8 am, had a shower and finished up the page with Javascript effects and other design tweaks. Later I had to travel to Tokyo and on my way revised the page. It went live at 4 pm Japanese time, just after 24 hours of the initial idea.

Introducing #publicNozbe – unlimited and share-able Public Nozbe Projects

So here’s the idea – now you can share any project in Nozbe as a “public project” for everyone, just go to “info” of the project and click on “Public” link and here you go:

Make project public

Here’s the screenshot of my original idea already as a public project (here’s the link):

Earthquake public project

Here’s my “Weekly Review check-list” and here are great projects by Japanese users: first one, second, third…

The #publicNozbe projects look great on the iPhone and Android – we made sure they are view-able and do-able above all on the mobile phones:

iPhone Public Project

#publicNozbe projects are very share-able – you can share them on Twitter, Facebook, clip them to Evernote and print them.

More details about #publicNozbe projects:

  • You can create unlimited #publicNozbe projects – by modifying one project or by creating various projects. This is important – now also free Nozbe users can create as many #publicNozbe projects.
  • Each #publicNozbe project has a unique URL and everyone who sees it, is identified by a cookie and has a clean slate. When they return to their #publicNozbe project, they’ll be able to see details of the project specific to them (actions done vs un-done).
  • To view and get #publicNozbe projects done there is no signup or sign-in. It works and identifies you by your unique cookie.
  • #publicNozbe projects are re-usable. Once you get it done, you can “reset” the project and start all over again. Perfect for checklists.
  • You’re encouraged to share the projects via Twitter, Facebook or simply email the link so that others also can get things done easily.
  • You need a Nozbe account to create #publicNozbe projects. But a free one works like a charm and there are no ads or other similar crapware on the #publicNozbe project pages.
  • You can’t view/edit/remove the #publicNozbe projects you created. Not yet. We just didn’t have the time to code this aspect yet. We hardly slept the last few days.
  • You can’t import #publicNozbe projects to your Nozbe account yet, but it’s coming. Again, not enough time and not necessary just yet.

Why I’m so excited about #publicNozbe projects.

I think it’s the best way to share knowledge and checklists, especially in trying time like these right here in Japan. Many Japanese people have approached me and expressed their gratitude for working so hard on making this feature available so quickly to them. They need it more than ever. In the first few hours more than 100 public projects were created and almost 2000 people were viewing them. Incredible.

I’m still here in Tokyo and I’m trying to help as much as I can. Nozbe will be donating money to Japanese Red cross later this month but it’s great we also figured out the way to also donate our time, talent (thank you Tomasz, my great CTO) and collaboratively with Japanese people give them a powerful tool to exchange information and get things done even in most remote areas of Japan.

I haven’t slept much these days and my hotel room is shaking on hourly basis today (the after-quakes kick in very often here in Tokyo) but I feel great and empowered to have helped. I never thought Nozbe would be so social and so collaborative. Let’s hope we’ve helped only a little bit with #publicNozbe and can make the very tough, brave and well organized Japanese folk even more organized.

#publicNozbe projects are not exclusive to Japanese users – you can create them and work with them, too. They were just inspired by all that’s happening here.

I would like to express special thanks to Kurazono Keizo-san, my mum and Kiran Vachhani-san for inspiration, Fukuoka Apple Store for hosting us for the brainstorming session and Fukuoka Japanese social media experts (especially Sugiyama-san and Munenori-san) for great ideas and help with spreading the word.

It was a great collaborative work in tough times. One of these moments that you feel you’re alive and work on something that changes the world. I can’t express it enough.

From Tokyo, Japan – yours productively,


Michael Sliwinski, Founder, Nozbe.com

P.S. Since we’ve launched the #publicNozbe projects, Japanese users have prepared a special web page with the best #publicNozbe projects for the earthquake, Facebook page, and are flooding Twitter with great public pages. Incredible. Lots of volunteer work and collaboration. You have to be here in Japan to really feel it. I’m speechless.

P.P.S. Apart from #publicNozbe, the Android beta client is coming this week as scheduled. Stay tuned for updates.

P.P.P.S. Last week the Gcal sync was not working for only one day. After thorough testing we’ve re-enabled it and it works fine now. Again sorry for that.

Nozbe (by apivision.com),
ul. Rozewska 18,
81-055 Gdynia, Poland, Europe

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