The d.archive: Building a discovery engine for our creative, curious community

How might we make it easier for our team to find what they need when they need it and build on past work?

Emi Kolawole
Jun 7, 2016 · 3 min read
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We went with Google Drive, and we had to explain to our community why we did. Here’s what we came up with. (Charlotte Burgess Auburn & Emi Kolawole)

Charlotte and Grace Hawthorne teach an incredible class here at the d.school called “Creative Gym”. The class gives its students an introduction to the basic tools to grow their creative confidence. Many of the tools and frameworks in the class have been tried and tested for years and could be adapted to other learning experiences.

If you worked at the d.school and never chatted with Charlotte or Grace about it, you’d never know these tools existed.

Thomas Both is an incredibly accomplished designer (one of many at the d.school), and he is a prolific creator of curriculum. He has an exercise focused on bananas that’s amazing. I was fortunate enough to be in a class when he ran it.

Had I not been in that class, I’d have never known he made it.

These are just two stories of many that illustrate how the wonderful things we make at the d.school stand to be lost even to members of our own community. I see things pop up and disappear all the time, wishing I knew where they came from, who created them and how they might be re-appropriated or built on. This is why we need a central repository for our work — and we do a lot of work.

We have, to that end, asked the d.school community to make a small change to their workflow: download Google Drive to your desktop and share some files in our archive of things you have created this past year.

That’s it. There‘s no need to do anything else.

We’ll let that sink in. In the meantime, here is a presentation of what we have learned, why we settled on our current approach, and where we see the potential going forward.

Why would we ask our community to do this? Well, we want to help folks do these four things:

  1. Actually (and easily) find a really cool tool or framework they could build on.
  2. Never have to reinvent the wheel again when it comes to tools and curriculum.
  3. Get curious about inspired by and informed of the work of others so that when you build on it, you know on whose shoulders you are standing (Thanks, Charlotte.).
  4. Make more cool stuff, building on the stuff that we’ve already made.

As we mentioned before, we also want there to be more intention around recognizing and celebrating authorship and, eventually, wider publication of some really awesome work. For now, however, we’re still working on curation and bringing everything folks would like to share and collaborate on in one place.

We’ll be working with a few members of our community to test both our new platform and this new mindset of archiving, sharing and iteration. Then we’ll go on a bit of a roadshow with the rest of the d.school to help individuals and teams find ways to share better so they might make and share more. Please, stay tuned.

This is part of a series we are putting together on the process of developing an archive for the Stanford d.school as part of our Media Experiments Project in collaboration with Knight Foundation.

Stanford d.school

Learning shared by the Stanford d.school community

Thanks to Charlotte Burgess-Auburn

Emi Kolawole

Written by

Founder of @dexignit, fmr. lecturer @Stanforddschool, founding Shaper @PaloAltoShapers & fmr. editor @Innovations on @washingtonpost || http://bitly.com/2bmSVqd

Stanford d.school

Learning shared by the Stanford d.school community

Emi Kolawole

Written by

Founder of @dexignit, fmr. lecturer @Stanforddschool, founding Shaper @PaloAltoShapers & fmr. editor @Innovations on @washingtonpost || http://bitly.com/2bmSVqd

Stanford d.school

Learning shared by the Stanford d.school community

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