Learning: Prototyping

I’m thinking about how I do what I do and was going to launch into what I’m already learning from this project, but then realised that there’s something that should come first, because it’s the reason I’m doing it this way in the first place.

I try to work on a cycle of “Have an idea – try it out – see what happens – see what ideas it evokes – try one of them out”… etc  If I’m lucky, along the way I will get to make something useful that people want to take part in, or pay for. 

What I used to do, when I worked in a big organisation was have an idea and then say to people around me “Have a think about this and tell me if it will work” and if enough people thought it would work we’d do it.  Of course there were lots of other people having ideas and asking me whether I thought they would work too.  The result of that was that we did relatively little except think and have meetings about whether things might work.

There are two main reasons why I can’t work like that any more.  One is that I don’t sit in a big organisation with lots of people paid to do thinking.  The other is that I just don’t believe that thinking that much before you do something will tell you as much as just doing something.

That’s why I treat everything as a prototype for something else. 

We’re often told that we have to have a vision and to hold onto the delivery of that vision no matter what.  I see it a little differently. 

The trap I try to avoid is thinking that the something else you’re working towards is more important than the thing you’re doing right now.

Tuttle started as a prototype for a social coworking space.  It turned out that it worked very well as a meetup in it’s own right and branched out into our consulting work, my own social art practice and arguably paved the way for C4CC.

So when I started thinking about this year’s American trip and got the idea from Al to also have journals travelling the country alongside me, I had a choice between thinking really hard about how to do that and just trying it out here beforehand to see what I learned.  And now I feel like I’m learning lots, more quickly than expected, that I’d otherwise have had to wait for until I was on the road myself.

What’s the alternative?  I could have written the instructions and then run a workshop (subject to people turning up) to simulate the exercise and run through what people thought might come up.  But how long would it take to set that up? And would the thinking really improve the experience?  Or is the point of the exercise the things that we learn along the way?

Originally posted on Journal Racing

1st UK journals set free

On Friday, I gave out three moleskine notebooks, labelled with their intended destination and including a set of instructions from the original post over here.  Each journal also comes in a stamped addressed jiffy bag so that they can come back to me at the end of the month.  They went to two people who were working in #C4CC that afternoon and one person who I had coffee with later.

There was a wrench to giving them up – I felt very responsible for making sure that they got on their way OK and that the people I'd given them to understood the instructions.  It's a surprise to me whenever this happens.  I make a great deal of the importance of "letting go" but when it comes down to it, I don't find it that easy myself.

So now i have nothing to do but wait for them to come back.  I shall also keep an eye on the hashtag. And I expect I'll also add some posts here as I learn stuff – this is an experiment to find out what works, after all.Originally posted on Journal Racing

Today’s purchases

I just bought a 1inch to 55miles map of the USA for plotting out the physical locations of my "safety net" – yes I shall also be using Google Maps to show things online, but I always like to get a nice analogue feel for what I'm doing.

I also purchased three empty, plain moleskine journals for the racing prototype.  i shall show these off at #tuttle in the morning before setting them free into the wild.Originally posted on Tuttle2Texas2

Please Look After This Englishman

I think I’ve come up with a new title for this project and another way of looking at it’s theme.  It just came to me after writing about the journals – I was thinking perhaps of putting something on the front like “Please look after this journal and help it get to its destination”  And realised that the rules I’d been making were kind of in that vein too, I want it to pass through the hands of people who care.

And then isn’t that also what I want to do with myself?  It’s as if I’m abandoning myself at the beginning of the trip and allowing others to move me along, handling me with care as we go.  But it also made me think of Paddington Bear, how he becomes part of the family and has adventures, although he gets stuck where he is, he’s not trying to get anywhere.  Part of looking after the journals and looking after me is not holding on to us for too long, keeping us moving, passing us on to someone else.

What a lovely way to draw out the social network, make it visible, tangible – the people you would trust with a valuable package.

So I’m thinking of wearing a luggage label round my neck throughout the trip that just says:

“Please look after this Englishman, Thank You”

Originally posted on Tuttle2Texas2