is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
The Do-It-Yourself Panel Method
Here’s how it evolved: we had five very busy panelists with five full-time jobs in four different geographic regions, so there was some trouble finding the time to get out of the gate with the planning. As I’ve mentioned before, the panel was Mark Boulton’s brainchild, but, finding myself with two weeks off at the beginning of January, I decided to take a first pass.
So I sat down and knocked out an outline of some of the issues that I thought might make for a good discussion. For this, I started in OmniOutliner Pro, and then transferred it to Apple’s Keynote, translating my list of bullet points into a fairly sparse set of slides. I was going for an inventory of concepts, basically, and the first draft, which you can download here, was very sketchy. The goal was to provide a strawman that the others could react to, contradict, refute and/or embellish.
I then posted the first draft to a shared Backpack page that we’d set up for collaborating on this panel. Each of the other panelists took a crack at adding notations, new bullet points and additional slides, posting their revisions back to the Backpack page. We went through several rounds of this, loading it up with lots of ideas, digressions and questions. We also supplemented this process with a few international conference calls, reviewing the slides together and hashing out which points could bear the scrutiny of a group discussion.
The Sliding Scale of Slide Effectiveness
Looking back now, we could almost have easily have just spent more time on conference calls, planning our session conversationally and focusing mostly on the chemistry of the group. But I don’t regret the work that we did on that deck at all; I think it was invaluable preparation that got our brains going and made us consider the issues at hand carefully. We needed to do that homework, if only to ultimately discard it, because we needed that foundation of familiarity — with the material, with the divergent viewpoints, and with one another’s various ideas of what shape the panel would take. If you take a close look at the last version of the document, you’ll see that it’s chock-full of notes, nested and tucked away here and there. It’s a pretty interesting document of a collaborative process, at least to me. You might find it interesting too.
|1.1||05 Jan 2006||This is the first draft, and is more an inventory of ideas than a complete narrative||Download|
|1.6||31 Jan 2006||This is the last of the drafts we labored over. Note the cascading conversations.||Download|
|2.0||11 Mar 2006||The final deck, as shown during the panel session, with beautiful design courtesy of Mark Boulton.||Download|