Posts from "February 2012"

Our Thinking

The Birth of OMAMA

  • By Tom Vaughan
  • February 14, 2012

Over the last 6 months, I have been slowly filling up the empty wall spaces in the engineering department with various posters of Nickleback, Justin Bieber and Edward from Twilight. These posters tended to get relocated and repositioned behind the desks of engineers who had recently broken the build or accidentally replied-to-all on an email thread.

The posters were fun but admittedly a bit of an eyesore.  Last Friday Ben Foster, our VP of Product, said “enough is enough” and sent an email to the engineering and product teams announcing the immediate departure of Justin, Edward and Nickleback.  Ben’s email was pretty good – complete with fake “goodbye, I’ll miss you” messages, but it immediately raised the rabble in engineering.  “What was product doing removing engineering posters??”, etc. etc.  Adding fuel to the fire was Dan, our CEO, who saw that Ben had poked a sleeping bear and wondered aloud as to the state Ben would find his office when he came in to work on Monday morning…

“Love thine enemy” formed the basis for engineering’s response:  if Ben didn’t appreciate crappy pop art, we’d provide him with some higher scale fare.  Thus was born the Opower Modern Art Museum, Arlington or “OMAMA.”   Internationalization Team Leader Tyler Bronder and I spent Sunday morning at Michael’s Arts & Crafts and Home Depot collecting supplies and most of Sunday afternoon assembling the highest-brow art we could manage.

Tyler and I thought a couple Rorschach knock-offs  would be quick and fun contributions to the museum’s collection so we experimented on a few different paint-to-plastic-to-canvas transfer techniques before committing to imprinting on the large 4’x3′ canvases we bought.

It took a couple of trials and errors with transfer mediums and acrylic viscosity to get the exact technique down correctly, but once we had some confidence in what we were doing we produced a semi-creepy version of our logo which we titled “Pluggy Deconstructed” and a more traditional Rorschach blot that we titled “Interaction Model.”

We’ve got a couple pieces of code that are central to the business that cause some newcomers to scratch their heads — our participant eligibility code and the orchestrating energy calculator code in particular have a certain notoriety. Tyler and I thought those would make good fodder for abstract art, so we knocked off a Modrian and a Pollock to produce the next two works, “Composition with Eligibility” and “Energy Calculator”:

The final (and best) pieces were put up in Ben’s office.  “Self Portrait” is an 42.5″ x 77″ blow up of his facebook photo, pasted up inside his office window. To discourage tampering with the gallery’s centerpiece, Tyler and I cut a couple of pieces of plexiglass to fit and sealed it in to his window frame with some 1x2x80″s and industrial sealing foam.

Ben’s been a great sport about it, but as the head of User Experience and Product, I’m starting to get nervous at the creative energies he has at his disposal for the next battle in this war. Stay tuned!

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