css.php

Catching Lightning in a Bottle

It’s interesting to reflect on the discussion channels pouring out of Tom Scheinfeldt’s presentation about One Week | One Tool. It seems we’re contending with how to infuse the energy and spontaneity characterized by some of the One Week | One Tool ethos into our yet to be, semester long projects next Spring. The attraction I, and certainly others see in a short term, intensive program like One Week | One Tool is exactly the phenomenon Tom Scheinfeldt remarked upon- this freedom within constraints, this ability for the clear (just the right kind of spooked) mind to shepherd in powerful concentration and creativity.

We make very fuzzy visualizations about what next semester’s project might really look like or turn into- and we’ve had plenty of time to let our imaginations run rampant without the ability to put any of this energy into doing the project itself. And I think this speaks directly to another of Scheinfeldt’s points- stress creeps in when we don’t know what’s expected of us. We haven’t gotten there yet, so we certainly aren’t able to grasp the expectations.

One Week | One Tool aims to catch lightning in a bottle by giving willing attendees the opportunity to collaborate and produce results under extreme pressure. How can we leverage that ‘camp’ like energy and combine it with more traditional project timelines for the better of our projects?

Perhaps we can start with an approach similar to how Scheinfeldt described this summer’s One Week | One Tool participants’ working process. First, a rapid brainstorming session, followed by a few rounds of viability and assessment discussions. Projects would be conceived in a short amount of time, and there would be an emphasis on developing and testing the tool quickly. I think it’s crucial to be really strategic and cognizant, yet make haste on the design and development side of things as often the concept and reality can get conflated and cause distortion- really putting a wrench in the project’s momentum. We could then take the results to our constituents: the end users and ‘funders.’ This would give us more of an opportunity to interface with crucial stakeholders beyond project participants, and hopefully enable reworking phase(s) in order to work out some kinks.