Post to Your Journal

The “CREATE IMPORT SORT EXPORT” framework of MakerMate

We all have urges to immediately tweet our ideas, thoughts, or what we’re super excited about. I know I tweet things that I find profound, things that I’m doing, but later delete them wondering ‘who the heck cares to see this on Twitter?’ It’s not necessarily good twitter content. Those urges to post should be channeled into journalling, documenting, and sharing what I’m working on/thinking about once I’ve had a sec to process it all

Last year, a team of students at the QUEST program and I designed a product for called MakerMate for a design-thinking class that merged the above problem with another problem we saw; many portfolios (typically from other students) are impressive but very flat in that they focus almost exclusively on the end product. While some audiences want just that, it’s not very human or relatable. Plus, I have no idea how you’d go about doing something like that. How long did it take you? Did you test your ideas? Why did you create this thing? Were you on a team and what was your role? Why did you do this? What does your process look like? What does your studio look like? That’s what we wanted to know, and what we wanted to make it easier to share.

The tool we envisioned would be able to store all your miscellaneous thoughts, drafts, notes, etc, and provide an easy way to dig through them, sort them, and use them to tell the story of you and your work on your portfolio.

One piece of inspiration : Austin Kleon’s book SHOW YOUR WORK! (I like to think of it in all caps because it’s telling me I should be doing it more).

Chapter 2 of Show Your Work

This book detailed how anyone creative should document what they do — not only for themselves, but for the world. And not just the final project, but the behind-the-scenes, messy work-in-progress stuff. And how by sharing, your contributions and network can grow infinely. And as everyone who’s ever gotten career advice knows, your network is everything.

So how to get there? Document your stuff, and tell a story about what you do. If you’re already in that game, awesome. But for students like us, we didn’t know where to start. What to document? Where to put it all? Once you have it, how do you sort through all the paperwork to find the things worth sharing? There were many unanswered questions.

Our take on it with makermate was a framework: Create, Import, Sort, Export.

CREATE: When creating, you should be concurrently documenting what you do. Maybe film what you’re doing, take a picture of your newly-sawed wood, or write down a haiku of how you feel about it. Whatever. Little things that prove you’re doing something.

IMPORT: Bring all the documentation together somewhere. You need somewhere to keep track of it all! Otherwise you’ll go crazy trying to remember where you posted that nice picture (Facebook? Instagram? Saved to ‘nice pixcs’ folder on desktop?).

SORT: Group the similar project’s ideas/documents together. Keep them in chronological order. Star the really nice ones, maybe throw in some tags to keep track of what kind of content it is, whatever your style is.

EXPORT: Bring together the nice bits from the day, week, month, year, or whenever to share anything from a day’s update to the entire project story. Arrange things chronologically, with a TL;DR at the top. Add explanations to fill in the gaps, fit to a good story structure. Go ahead, dramatize it, it makes it readable and relatable

This is a cycle that happens on the micro/daily level, but also on the macro level. The cycle can get to export daily, but also can get through to export once a project is completed, allowing you to post the project’s finished ‘EXPORT’ to a portfolio. This shows you what you’re doing, but also shows others what’s up; it lets people understand what really went into your work.

The platform you do this in doesn’t matter. We were going to build a designated one, but are college students already spread pretty thin. We still might. Who knows. However: Productivity apps are springing up everywhere. Starting early with notes apps, there are now myriad “ _____ for teams” products, from group chats to note apps to Cloud-based-file-systems galore. Some cool ones are Notion for organization/documentation and Microsoft Sway for exports. And of course, Medium, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Dribble, Behance, Reddit, any personal blog or website, and many other platforms for sharing and showing your work.

One that I’m most excited for is the new Dropbox productivity suite. Docs + filestructure + scan-ins to easily import old-fashioned pen-and-paper journals (invaluable). It also sorts things chronologically. Pay for it, and you get “Showcase” which lets you tell a story and show your work. It’s not the smoothest experience, and there’s a lot of curating and sorting and organzing you have to do yourself. Until Jordan Steiner and I make our own platform, it’s the best we have.

Thoughts on productivity/organization/sharing? Comment! Shout! Share!