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A GitHub for Design Thinking

Massively parallel innovation requires an open source design repository system to branch and sync the development of models and frameworks.

Photo of Benjamin Brownell
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How can designers and innovators think better, together, helping to make their ideas more accessible and relevant?

The open source software development community provides an excellent case study and illustration. Complex, distributed development projects employ software configuration management systems based around a set of simple, powerful ideas for version control of linked components and variants. This practice is the basis for the popular GitHub platform, where anyone may access 'source files' for software projects and copy ('fork') them to work on an alternative version ('branch'), or add their own new features and fixes in order to 'merge' these improvements into the original repository.

Like programmers, innovative designers create solutions by building from prior knowledge and applications to address new challenges or improve on old results. Often, this involves the use of an effective pattern language of best practices, conventions, modular components, and shared understanding within a given field or discipline, analogous to the programming languages of software developers.

There is presently no system to link the distributed knowledge and design process of open innovation outside of niche communities and siloed web platforms.

A new, collaborative, version controlled concept mapping environment built on top of a shared, semantically structured graph database will change this. The open source metamaps.cc platform already online and in use by several open innovation communities is a big step, and we want to take it much further!

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Ben Brownell

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Photo of Arunabh Pramod Prakash Singh
Team

I am not a regular on openideo but I must say this is one of the simplest and useful replication of github. I think non-programmers have not had a chance to share or alter projects as easily as github does. It also shows how the programming world can inspire more innovations to other disciplines.  The innovation models of web and mobile technologies definitely need to be studied for more hidden gems

Photo of Aaron Wong
Team

Yes! It would be great if OpenIDEO could branch out to other networks, and share ideas with those that wouldn't be a haven't joined OpenIDEO otherwise. Have you checked out IDEO's http://www.designkit.org? 

Photo of Benjamin Brownell
Team

IDEO's Design Kit is a very nice looking resource Aaron Wong and a great example of the kind of open source design thinking 'application' that I am imagining as part of an evolving interwoven ecosystem of tools, protocols, patterns, principles, scenarios, outcomes etc.
Design Kit has a simple taxonomic structure of Inspiration, Ideation, and Implementation, woven around a set or sequence of generative questions - http://www.designkit.org/methods
We can view this as the feature set of an IDEO 'application' for human-centered design, where 'users' may chart their course through a specific design challenge using this tool for inspiration and support.
Now consider another, similar application suite such as those available at https://methodkit.com
What if anyone could easily find and use these kinds of design applications (I believe there are many out there already!), not only that but they could easily modify, extend, or mashup useful elements from several sources to create an original, innovative custom-fit solution that may then in turn be readily accessed, applied, and iterated upon by others? And to go even a step further, information about results and outcomes stay linked to the 'source code' of applications used in any given design process, building a massive contextualized library of solutions and experiential stories as well.
Make some sense?! Hope so :) Thanks for chiming in. Fun to explore these possibilities together...

Photo of Aaron Wong
Team

I see what you mean. Method kit seems great, I just wish it was open source like github! I totally see what you mean. Personally, I think Github needs a UX overhaul, but I think a github-like, open-source, and source-connected system for OpenIDEO would be fantastic.

Photo of Benjamin Brownell
Team

Indeed, lots of interesting challenges to consider in terms of architecture and experience within such an ecosystem (and I do mean eco_system_ as opposed to a single standalone platform). I would place special emphasis on a visually rich graph style interfaces that carry a lot of info without feeling dense.

And to the point about open sourcing specific knowledge and frameworks, I imagine that the process of demonstrating benefit to all participants will take some time just as it did in OS software movement, but this has already begun through the Creative Commons movement. Methodkit in fact has released one of their most recent kits under creative commons, see here https://methodkit.com/shop/methodkit-for-workshop-planning/

Finally, designing for a system that encourages not only attribution and reputation but actual stakeholding with a range of rewards / privileges for contributors through a range of granular licenses or offerings of customized / premium services is very much in keeping with my view of trends in the collaborative or sharing economy which can develop around healthy 'commons' such as this.

Photo of Aaron Wong
Team

Have you heard of gamification of things? The last part you mentioned about reputation and rewards reminded me of that. It's another way of motivation by incentivising people like in a game. 

Photo of Todd Sotheren
Team

This is a genuinely fantastic vision mate - worth pursuing this inside or outside of this challenge.

Photo of Robert Best
Team

More open tools that help teams make sense of their complex problems would be great. I also think that we are lacking tools that allow us to explore our data//systems/etc in a more visual/intuitive way. I love the idea of a visual concept map for version-controlled project collaboration and other creative endeavors.

Photo of Sharadh Krishnamurthy
Team

I think this is a great idea, Benjamin! I think a really cool part of this could be the visuals: presenting the massive hub of innovation happening in a way that pulls more people in, and lets them contribute. Have you seen MindMaps? Here's an example: https://www.mindtools.com/media/Diagrams/mindmap.jpg. I think it's a cool way to cluster multi-pronged innovation in a way that helps people relate to it, empathize, and contribute effectively!

Photo of Ferananda Ibarra
Team

Oh yes... would be great to integrate a platform to reward contributions so that no person is left without acknowledgment and reciprocity for their contributions.  Love the idea

Photo of Jinal Sanghavi
Team

This is an excellent idea - we need open source design tools, kits and other resources to spark innovation to action

Photo of Benjamin Brownell
Team

Yes, thanks Jinal Sanghavi - open source / creative commons resources are increasingly prevalent yet there is still no way to link them and draw out commonalities or patterns that might inform and enhance a kind of 'collective wisdom' available to anyone undertaking collaborative solutioneering. Rather than pursuing an(other) canonical catalog of best practices, standards, or portfolio design inspirations, the GitHub-esque version control mechanism encourages free-form P2P 'meta-innovation' resulting in an aggregate contextualized knowledge base of proven successes and reusable components available for bespoke remix and hand-crafted custom blends...with underlying feedback loops that help to reveal essential, universal patterns and mechanisms operating within our reach.

Photo of Jinal Sanghavi
Team

Yes, Benjamin Brownell ! I now understand better what you mean. It's the focus on contextualized knowledge and applications that provide rich resources - rather than the theoretical database, or checklists.

The key questions will be - designing to ensure the objective is met & quality ensuring contributions - frequent and regular to meet the objective