Summer 2008 proposal - Documentation[edit source]

Does IDDS have the funds (not necessarily the bandwidth) to have a meta-project at the summit this summer focused on documenting the work of all the other teams?

By "documenting" I mean publicizing (journalism-style with photos, blog, etc in a grassroots manner, which makes it easier to then reach out to more traditional media) but more importantly technical documentation focusing on creating a resource for each project explaining the design rationale, thought process, and steps for reproducing their work (a how-to manual not just on the building of the device, but on its design as well). Think of them as... facilitators of creating useful artifacts that can persist - and be broadly accessible/useful-to - people outside the immediate contact sphere of D-Lab. Creating a resource where a Guatemalan student who may never have heard of Amy Smith can search for stove designs and go "Oh! Wow! This is a great project, I can learn a lot from what they did, adapt their design to my village, and... ooh, I can get in touch with the original engineers, and there's this D-Lab thing that sounds fantastic..."

To make this more concrete, if...

  • IDDS can support (food/housing/space/funky-tshirt) one or more "technical documentarians" this summer
  • Appropedia can provide those people with long-distance mentorship on working with wikis and open hardware documentation - since they've facilitated a lot of groups sharing their work in this way before - basically, Appropedia can provide the "bandwidth" and some modicum of supervision/guidance

If funding is an issue, this would definitely fall under the umbrella of - let me know how much you'd need and I can see about getting it (traditionally, intern stipends have been $500/project, which will at least defray some of the costs associated with having N more people on the MIT campus.)


  • a corpus of well-documented, "living" reference materials to show off (easier to show off a "portfolio" to media)
  • ...with the very distinct possibility of getting your work translated into other languages and massively publicized, esp. with the open sustainability network conference coming to Boston in the fall, this would be a great way to showcase your collective work in a way that's immediately useful to the participants there
  • clear processes and internal knowledge (spread across all IDDS participants, who'll then bring it back to their home schools, making collaborating across continents easier for D-Lab in the future - it'd be great if the folks in Kenya posted their project info on the web too, right?)
  • more open licensed engineering projects means more material for budding appropriate tech engineers to learn from, no matter where they are (think of how the availability of open source code helped a lot of current uber-coders get started)

Mchua 21:48, 28 February 2008 (PST)

I think it would be good to revisit this for 2010 - think about what's needed to make sure all this excellent work (both the problem analysis and the finished designs) gets documented and shared. --Chriswaterguy 06:50, 18 January 2010 (UTC)