Disquito, the official daily newsletter of Worlds in Prague, published an interview with me about FFindr in the final day issue. Here is the article written by Nathan Heilmann in full length, including the photo by David Prucha. A big thanks to both of them, as well as to the organisers of WUCC in Prague.
Most of the players at this tournament have been organizers of the sport at some level or another. We do it out of our passion for the sport. Most of the bureaucratic work done to organize the core functions of ultimate frisbee is done voluntarily by players of the sport. This includes the scheduling and registration of leagues, individual tournaments and even entire series of championship playoff tournaments. Almost all tournament directors deprive themselves of some of modern life’s basic provisions to make ultimate as we know it happen. This seems like a situation ripe for the technological innovation that many of us describe as web 2.0.
Christian Jennewein is an ultimate fanatic and professional web development and IT specialist. In 2007, his experiences playing for the German Mixed National Team at the EUC in Southampton intensified his passions for the sport and appreciation of its amazing community of players. Upon suggestions from his teammate Rue he became apart of the WFDF committee and charged with developing internet utilities for the ultimate community.
In his attempts to communicate with fellow committee members it became apparent that his clarity of vision, determination, and threshold for bearing sacrifice was unique. He couldn’t help but strike out on his own to start building the IT infrastructure that would eventually become what is today FFindr.
FFindr is a tournament/league organizers’ dream. Any TD can create tournament web pages to handle everything from registration to accommodation and even meal preferences in about 15 minutes.
Christian first deployed a version of FFindr to organize the Paris Summer Love league in 2007. In 2008 he partnered up with BULA and since then a community of around 30 to 40 hardcore users have been submitting their requests and comments for improvement. Christian said “The most valuable lesson from my experience building FFindr is to value each and every email I receive”. F-finder can also be used to create custom calendars. So if you want to view all the tournaments currently registered in Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Hungry simply fill in the correct fields and a custom calendar will be created for you. An accompanying RSS feed is created to bring live update to any website. There are currently 25,000 users and 100,000 page views per month. Volunteers have translated its features into 8 languages. In the spirit of web 2.0 the system is meant to be user driven and as open as possible.
Christan’s passion to apply IT to solve TD headaches and harmonize the events of various ultimate communities has lead him to take a 9 month sabbatical from his paid work. The first two months of which include a lot living out of his car and playing at the WUCC in Prague. The next six months are set aside to bring FFindr to the next level. “I’m going to need to make those user number grow if this is going to be a profession for me”.
The long term future for the portal remains unknown but Christian’s current mission is to look into cooperation with advertisers and sponsors so at the end of his sabbatical he will return to only a part time job and generate the other half of his income from FFindr. “I would really love to spend 15 hours a day working.” After worlds it appears he will do so in his parents basement but come 2011, he will have to return to his day job. For the sake of TDs and players everywhere I hope he only goes back part time.