This week at HDL we began doing things labeled "final." Final venue visits, final guests lists, final head counts, final prep meetings. This is appropriate with HDL Global now less than 10 days away.
In anticipation of panel discussions which will use the HDL Studios as starting points, we wanted to share some of the outcomes of the Studios... but how do you present something that is in flux, under development? The format we've developed is called the HDL Dossiers. Go check it out—and if you like, you can read below as I share a bit of the thinking behind this format.
A slightly nerdy introduction to the HDL Dossiers
If your process is non-linear, as the design process often is, forcing yourself to use a linear tool is counter productive. Since most blogs and other content management tools are rigidly linear, we needed a new tool to support the work of HDL. We needed a new way to see our work.
The ease of use that a blog allows, as a simple long list of stuff, is great. But its not designed for content that is evolving. We wanted a format that would enable us to evolve a presentation of information and ideas as our understanding develops and changes. One of the important aspects of this is the ability to have control over how bits of information are located. Does A need to sit next to B to make sense? With a normal blog you don't have control over that. The best you can do is to post things in chronological order.
We needed the ease of use of a blog, where content is stored in a database and easily manipulated, with the flexibility of a sketchpad, where the presentation is freeform and maleable. And since this is a tool that we intend to use in the daily course of HDL's work, it needs to have a sense of history as well. It needed to be able to keep track of time by allowing versions which the user can then "scrub" back and forth between.
The result is something like this. Here's an image of the Sustainability Dossier in two different states. The left shows what it looked like before the studio. In that state we've just assembled the bones of the challenge briefing. But on the right the studio has concluded and their recommendations are starting to filter into the mix. Between the versions some information becomes less important (and thus smaller) or disappears altogether because it's no longer important.
It was a squeeze to get this work done with our already-ambitious HDL Global preparations, but I'm glad we did because we are finally reflecting a bit of work from the Studios. I hope you enjoy digging around the Dossiers and please direct any tips to @HDL2010 or the contact form on this site. We'd love to hear from you.