Skip to content

There is No Such Thing As Going Backward

In 1991, artist Agnes Martin wrote, “There is no such thing as going backward in anything. There is increased and decreased awareness, that is all, and increased awareness means increased disappointments.” Increased awareness cannot be underestimated.

Here are a few tips I’ve learned from working on our digital projects:

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 11.00.32 AM
Slide from a presentation at the Digital Scholarship Services 2016 Open House, in which I describe our approach to digital project work in Agile development terms.

Bigger isn’t better: When it comes to building your core team to execute a digital project, it’s often helpful to keep the number of people contributing smaller. Our core teams typically include three people: a business/tech-oriented leader, a scholar, and a programmer.

Develop a common language: I love sharing a language whose common denominators include simplicity and efficiency. Our work pace is steady, our attention is analytical, our environment non-juScreen Shot 2016-03-09 at 11.00.32 AMdgmental, our language action-oriented. It’s important to meet regularly so that you develop a common understanding and generosity of understanding. When our teams encounter obstacles, it’s helpful to define them in ways that we all understand so that we may solve them.

Meet weekly in order to develop a team routine: There is well-documented literature outlining software development workflow. The common iterative process outlines ideas, collects data and delivers a product while also allowing for organic development. Keeping a weekly meeting schedule helps us to stay on track. 

Post-launch analysis party: Along the way, we’ve practiced mindful, critical analysis of our own workflow. After you finish a project, plan a session where your team defines your “failures” and “successes” so that you may build on them in the future. (Serve cheesecake and fancy lemonade.) 

Start today: You will learn how to do what you need to do by starting. If you have a vision for a digital project, write it down. Talk about it. Dream about it. Brainstorm on big white boards and invite peers to hear your ideas. Make things. Take classes on the weekends. Go to workshops. Have fun. In the words of Elle Luna, “Grab the nearest tool. Work. And in time you will know.”

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna
The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna