Introduction to ‘Publishing Makerspace’ Visioning Exercise

‘Publishing Makerspace’ Visioning Exercise          Monday, Nov. 10, 2-4 p.m.

Introductions (2-2:30, 5 minutes per team member)

  1. Share a story about yourself that helps us understand your relationship to the digital world.   Your shared story can be about a place, something that happened to you, or a project you worked on. Be sure to include in this story how you were touched personally by your experience.
  2. Connect the story to your background and your interests. How do they intersect with our ‘Publishing Makerspace’ working group and with the SCI Workshop topic of Digital Scholarship and the Crowd?

The “Design Charrette” as a Model (2:30-2:45)

ORIGINS: The term “charrette” is derived from the French word for “little cart.” In Paris during the 19th century, professors at the Ecole de Beaux Arts circulated with little carts to collect final drawings from their students. Students would jump on the “charrette” to put finishing touches on their presentation minutes before the deadline.

PRACTICE IN DESIGN AND URBAN PLANNING: A charrette is typically an intensive planning session where citizens, designers and others collaborate on a vision for development. It provides a forum for ideas and offers the unique advantage of giving immediate feedback to the designers. More importantly, it allows everyone who participates to be a mutual author of the plan. Our charrette exercise today is a tool for developing collaborative strategies, visions, and for creating our own shared plan for our group work during this week’s workshop.

The Visioning Exercise (2:45-4)

We are going to do our own visioning exercise modeled after a charrette. The exercise will have four parts –
Part One:   Brainstorming – This is a “faucet” exercise, where we come up with, in quick-fire fashion, as many ideas as possible related to the prompt.

Part Two:   Backcasting and Visioning – This is a “funnel” exercise, where we distill the ideas we have come up with, and choose the ones we are most interested in exploring this week.

Part Three: Planning and Refining – Our third step is to take the results of the backcasting and visioning exercise, and refine the plan that we developed. Are there important steps or components of the plan we’ve left out? How do we want to parse out the pieces of our plan within the time frame of the SCI Workshop? (see tentative team schedule below)

Part Four: Reflection – In this last part of the visioning exercise, the team will take the results of the exercises in brainstorming, backcasting, and visioning, and reflectively look back over the process. What have we learned about each other and our shared vision through this exercise? In what ways was the exercise helpful? How has it shaped our plans?



Visioning – Visioning is an exercise in employing futures thinking and design thinking to imagine a future in which the practices, behaviors, and methods that you want to see take root have come into being. Visioning is an exercise that encourages ‘construction’ of the future that you would like to see come into existence, without worrying about the constraints that existing conditions impose on moving towards such a future.

See the article “Design Thinking” by Tim Brown, Harvard Business Review, June 2008, for an in-depth discussion of how design thinking works.

Also see

Back-castingBackcasting starts with defining a desirable future and then works backwards to identify policies and programs that will connect the future to the present. The fundamental question of backcasting asks: “if we want to attain a certain goal, what actions must be taken to get there?” Forecasting is the process of predicting the future based on current trend analysis. Backcasting approaches the challenge of discussing the future from the opposite direction. [Source:]



Charrette Rules –

  1. In brainstorming, don’t censor your thoughts. Introduce all the ideas you have, without taking time to deliberate on them or intellectualize.
  2. Once an idea is introduced to the group, the group takes joint ownership of it and accepts it. Ideas are not critiqued during brainstorming, just introduced.
  3. The role of the facilitator is to keep the process moving, to encourage everyone to contribute, and when helpful, to restate, summarize, and recap the results of the brainstorming session.
  4. In visioning, take the ideas you have generating in your “faucet” mode and collaboratively develop a shared vision for your desired future. Narrow down the ideas to key components as you enter “funnel” mode. What are the most important things you want to accomplish, and how can they be interrelated?
  5. In backcasting, once you have fleshed out your vision, and are aware of your goal in relationship to the present, start with the current status quo (in our case, the state of digital scholarship as content that is shared with various publics) and decide the key components. How can we move from the present and towards our visioned goals? What steps are necessary, and how should they be coordinated?
  6. Engage in creative and innovative practices as you devise solutions, strategies, and practices. Experiment through sketching, doodling, drawing, and diagramming, ways to generate new ideas and contribute your voice to the collaborative process.

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