This week I’m one of twelve participants at One Week One Tool, a National Endowment for the Humanities summer institute hosted by the Center for History and New Media, where we have five days to discuss, design, and build a software tool for the digital humanities. Last night we publicly released a list of possible tools we’re considering and asked for votes and commentary. You also can follow our progress (and roadblocks) via Twitter #owot.
Learning point #1: From open brainstorming to more focused thinking
While this may seem like a small point to some, I learned a great deal about how groups can make progress on brainstorming ideas. At the beginning of our Monday afternoon session, we launched into a free-for-all discussion to generate possible tools on the white board, in somewhat random fashion, as shown below.
To move our discussion one step further, our group followed Tom’s advice to focus on who we are building for and why. With participant Meghan Frazer leading us, we started filling out a grid with these categories — tool, audience, and need — by refining the content from the first whiteboard, as shown below.
Learning point #2: From group idea talk to collaborative text
Anyone who has worked with me knows that I favor making discussions more concrete by helping the group to capture its thinking in writing. For #owot 2013, we created a Google Document and restricted the link to our group, then expanded descriptions from the tool idea grid. The collaborative document also allowed individuals to refine the text while the larger group continued to discuss topics, while generating a semi-permanent archive of our thinking process. Most important, all of us worked together to craft the wording that we released when we requested public feedback for our tool nominations (see link, but voting has closed).