Get to Know the Avalon Team: Mark Notess


In our new series "Get to Know the Avalon Team," we're providing a closer look at the individuals who are working each day to develop the Avalon Media System.


Mark Notess


Mark Notess is Head, User Experience and Digital Media Services, within the IU Bloomington Libraries at Indiana University. His primary responsibility since joining IU in 2001 has been the Variations Digital Music Library and related projects. 


Can you talk a bit about your role in the project?

I am one of two product owners, the other being Julie Rudder at Northwestern. Julie and I conspire with users to figure out what Avalon needs to be able to do. We then write user stories to encapsulate those requirements and prioritize the stories that will go into each 2-week development sprint. During the sprint we are available to the developers to answer questions and provide further detail. Beyond my product owner role, I have a few other responsibilities on the project: I manage the IU Avalon development team, provide direction for our marketing and communication efforts, and have particular interest in user experience (UX) issues.


What is a typical work week like for you?

Most of my week is consumed by keeping up with all the great work the development team is doing. In addition to attending daily stand-up meetings, I am in daily communication with my Northwestern counterpart to refine and prioritize requirements, determine when those requirements have been met, and plan future work. I am often composing several emails while updating our issue tracking system, editing a wiki page, and chatting with two or three team members, not always without getting my wires crossed! Avalon is my main responsibility, but I also am the development manager for our legacy Variations Digital Music Library, so I have to make sure that heavily used system keeps working well at IU and the dozen or so other institutions using that open source product.


What apps/software/gadgets can't you live without?

My iPhone makes me happy when I look at it, even if it's turned off. I also have a real digital camera—a mirrorless DSLR. I'm visually oriented, so I spend time with SmugMug, Flickr, Pinterest, and other photo-intensive destinations. Spotify is always open on my desktop, whether I'm at work or at home, but I don't do social music because no one cares what I like to listen to. Trust me on that.



When you’re not working, what can you be found doing?

My aspirational self says I can be found hiking, reading, writing, talking with friends over food, being involved at my church, and especially hanging out with family and friends. My ironical self says I'm usually putting gas in the car or playing Minecraft.