WIP 000: Work in Progress

Sylvia Martinez, head cat wrangler for the FabLearn Fellows, says to post more stuff. She says that it doesn’t need to be perfect, just jot it down and publish. Unfortunately, this ethos doesn’t fit with my normal workflow.

A typical post on my DesignMakeTeach.com blog involves a lot of work. Steps include brainstorming a project, designing the physical product, fabbing the design, taking photos/videos, publishing the design files in a public repository and then writing the blog post itself. There is lots of research, iteration and false starts in the process. The result is that I don’t publish that many posts.

My projects folder and notes apps are filled with ideas and partially finished projects and posts. Usually I micro-blog bits and pieces on Instagram and Twitter but due to the perishable nature of social media, many of those ideas fade away.

The gulf between what I’m working on and a finished blog post is huge. (I think the same is true of student projects. The one end-of-year project after the state standardized test is over looms large as a giant piece that needs to be perfect. In many cases, students complete these projects in a short concentrated burst of activity. There is little reflection on the process and the search for answers. As I work towards bringing makerspaces into formal education environments, I’d like to explore the differences between documenting and reflecting on the process versus the final product.)

Which brings me to the idea of trying a Work in Progress, WIP, style blog posts. I was introduced to Work in Progress documentation in hobby and miniature gaming forums. Hobbyist would documents projects such as painting a miniature or building a diorama. Many of these projects would takes weeks or months to complete. The person documenting the project would share updates on the forum and invite feedback. WIP style posts from top hobbyists were especially popular for others trying to learn step-by-step how to create similar projects.

My idea for a Work In Progress style post is to put down ideas and experimentations on a regular basis. Taking a few minutes each week to collect photos, tweets, questions, etc. I would then be able to update these posts or continue certain ideas from week to week. When I develop enough material, I can then collate the material into a final project post. Hopefully, this style of documentation would allow more feedback when I’m having problems or incentive to continue to pursue an idea. WIP posts could offer more chance at collaboration and interaction. The posts may be pretty rough but sometimes just a single photo or sentence is enough to inspire someone else’s project idea.

Tell me what you think about WIP documentation in makerspaces and for this blog. Leave a comment or contact me on Twitter @DesignMakeTeach.