Wait, I Thought I Knew That

During the 2020 election, I, like a lot of people watched CNN for 4 straight days. I heard John King and Wolf Blitzer say at least 15 times, that “we’ve never seen anything like this” and something occurred to me, if I hadn’t lived through it, I didn’t know much about American history or not as well as I thought. King was right, we hadn’t really seen someone refuse to concede in a presidential election, we hadn’t seen that level of voter turnout and we hadn’t really seen an incumbent prematurely declare victory. I know this because I watched every televised concession speech in the history of this country (it was like 2AM on the West Coast and I couldn’t sleep).

Then I kept looking into more modern US history, like how single-term presidents didn’t get reelected or why the New Deal was so important or how RFK was poised to reshape the Democratic party.

So I became hooked and then found myself being very annoying (more so than usual) with all these little tidbits of information that provided more of a backdrop to what I was seeing. I got obsessed with re-learning a lot of things: science, history, geography. I got really into reading more about queer people throughout history, it’s given me more understanding of myself and how far we’ve come and how far there is still to go (but that’s another blog post).


Sometime in early December our project manager got bored of how stale our daily stand-up meetings had become. She suggested a “Dad Joke Wednesday” and “Trivia Thursday”. The first Thursday this came up, no one could come up with a trivia fact off the top of their head, but having just listened to the news before we started I asked: “What constitutional amendment gave us the sheer displeasure of listening to Ted Cruz?“. Then I had an idea to make this a little game for our team. I like learning, I like game shows, I tried playing a lot of other trivia apps on the Play Store and they didn’t click for me.

Desktop version of the app
Desktop version of Trivially

In my “Twenty Twenty” post, I talked about this problem I had with shipping. I’ll start a thousand little projects and they never get further than an abandoned repository or a document in Figma. But I started this idea and put a small prototype together fairly quickly. Then Sabrina started to encourage me and my dad played that first version on the web.

I decided to call it Trivially and it’s available on the web and for iOS and Android.

Sabrina really stepped in, played every alpha version of the native app I built, wrote questions for the app, critiqued the questions I would write. It was an absolute joy to get to share and build something with my someone.


Okay some technical details…

The app is built with React Native. My day job is mostly working with React Native and that seemed like the best fit for what I wanted to release. I used React Navigation for routing, Apollo Client for data fetching and Redux Toolkit for application state.

The content management system I’m using is Sanity.

The site is built with Next.js. For data fetching I’m using their incremental static site generation features and on the client I’m using SWR with GraphQL Request. For styling I’m using Tailwind CSS and I’m even using their new JIT plugin.

Obviously, I used TypeScript everywhere.

Wanna Play?

Anyway, I built this thing because I liked learning and re-learning history and writing the questions got me way more into that. I’d be really happy if you downloaded my game. It’s not perfect and I have a few ideas 🤔 for some new features ✨ like a light mode 💡 and presentation features 📽 because I’ve loved playing this in a group. And if I’m in a meeting and people start talking about Gantt charts, I’m likely on mute, writing questions and furiously Googling who the first something or was to do something in the Senate.

So if you think you know what the first US Mars mission was called, who Sargon the Great was, or which island in the Malay Archipelago is the largest, this game is for you. Even if you didn’t know that Gerald Ford had his name changed, or the scientific name for a pineapple, or that Aretha Franklin got her start singing in her dad’s church, or when Genesis broke up, I still think you’ll enjoy it.

Trivially is available on the web and for iOS and Android. Tell me how you like it or if there’s something horribly wrong with it!