#LOTE4 Documentation Toolkit

As discussed in last week’s community call, this wiki can serve as a documentation toolkit for participants who want to tell the stories of sessions and projects before, during, and after lote4.

What is our goal? capture detailed snippets of the event beyond a show off of the mood and fun, looking-good stuff that most people are concerned about when it comes to events… which is immediately important but doesn’t help much with follow up and building serious conversations on top of what is happening in a room at a certain moment.

How do we use documentation? It’s not just about the live show, in Edgeryders tradition documentation means making available precious content in order to enable high quality follow up and engagement of many more peers who may not be present during the event. We want focused conversation around key topics and not just blasting stuff out.

I’d like to invite everyone to do an initial brain dump of tools they use or know of - once we have a decent list, we could reorganize the suggestions according to type of content/ session/ project and available tech - from pen and paper to tablet.


There’s a wiki to upload or link to photos from LOTE4.


  • mind42: online collaborative mapping platform
  • Freemind: open source mapping software
  • Popplet: uses Flash but has a good interface

Collaborative Text

  • PiratePad
  • HACKPAD: recently acquired by Dropbox but its support of Markdown makes it really user-friendly and readable

Managing Files

  • GitHub: all documentation should make its way to this platform, but Git could be useful for tracking different user contributions and file storage

Planning and Prototyping

  • Trello: task management tool, easily make group actionables from lofty ideas
  • Kanboard: open source version of Trello, though its interface can be tricky
  • Balsamiq: online wireframing tool with a free-trial - any open source suggestions?
  • Whiteboards: always good to have around - quick idea, maybe sessions could even take place "seated around the board"?


  • StoryMaker: a free app to enable censorship-resistant publishing, that gives users optional guides on framing shots and conducting interviews
  • Mobile: video/ photo/ audio, I find audio can be the best way to document small, open conversations, as it's less invasive than video
  • Visualizations: using a tablet to visually narrate sessions in real-time, Prezi style
  • GoPro video camera from the unMonastery toolkit
  • Drawing the people on sessions and making sort of Comic strips with the pictures and the things that were said.

    Example on this website: www.hnah.de. (recommended by @Anna Peregrina)

In an effort to make documentation as fun as possible, perhaps what’s needed beyond the proper tech is interesting configurations of people and tools in the room. I’m starting to think it might be great to think of documentation in terms of arranging spaces rather than suggesting equipment - for example, one room in the unMonastery geared for prototyping, another for video. Anyone up for brainstorming?

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Crash course

Thanks K, wonderful start! This will be quite a crash course in documenting and the available tools.

Might not be redundant I think to mention we’re on the lookout for open source software? Your call.

I am SO looking forward to start using GitHub or other such repositories for file sharing and photos upload! We’re now very badly managing this, with stuff spread on Flickr, DropBox and google drive altogether… and I’ve just discovered Fickr is no more allowing signup via google, only Yahoo! They’re actually leaving you with practically no option/choice to access your own account… so there go our (lost) photos.

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I’m ready to seriously help with this

Hi Kei, how’s it going?

I thought now that we’re getting more and more concrete and have a fairly good overview of what kind of sessions will happen at the unMonastery, we might get down to business. Since most of the attention is shifting to concrete logistics in Matera, care of Natalia, I’m willing to take an active role in the documentation… updated the wiki with goals.

What we know/have so far:

  • at least 1 room for plenaries and 3 smaller rooms for break out/ parrallel sessions will be made available at and around unMonastery 
  • the agenda will include 3 sessions going in parallel for most of the day - I suspect not more than 10-15 people in the room
  • @SamMuirhead will be there with filming gear, which is great asset for documentation :)

What would be great to have I think:

  • a landing page to set the standard for how we want to tell the story of this year's LOTE as it happens.  An example @Nadia shared is that of Ouisharefest Stories 

    It could also be a page where we coordinate, pile up stuff and know where to pick off when we will distill key content later on… 

  • templates for documentation -> paper based/ digital 
  • instructions for people who will join this team, along with a briefing session in the beginning of Lote

Thoughts? I’d really like to rely on your experience Kei since I’m eager to learn new ways, so anything you envision, bring it on!

Agreed: documentation is about people and tools

Kei, this looks really good. I wish there were some way to keep track of all of the tools we use and ensure that data can legible across them.

Example: I used popplet a lot a while ago when Ben introduced me to it, but then something changed in the webservice (i think they turned it into an app?) and after trying a couple of times I gave up. Dropbox i dropped when Condoleeza Rice joined their board.

I would love to start using Github, found the learning curve a bit too steep for when i tried to do simple tasks like upload images and was (as usual) on a tight timeline to get it done. So i defaulted to flickr.

Do you think it could it be worthwhile to have the session right after opening of the event dedicated to figuring this out for the event? With the aim of everyone both learning about documentation (how to do it well) and participants agreeing on a shared process for documenting lote4 (and maybe future events if it works well)?

Feasible? If so, let me know how I can help.

It is critical

All my support. Documentation is critical, let me know how I can help. BTW, I propose we put some communication emphasis on documentation in the final push towards LOTE4.

couple of ideas

First you might find this valuable, based on maker documentation needs, but key points relevant. Document-athon - OSHW Documentation Jam Berlin Edition - Google Docs

secondly we have developed a product exactly like Nadia sketched out - portable whiteboard book - see pic above(two years in making - great minds think alike ;)). Won’t be ready by LOTE, but might be by next one. Betabook.co for kickstarter news when we launch.

Happy to brainstorm on how you can make your own.

Stewarding documentation

I am very keen on porting documentation onto edgeryders.eu, as happened for LOTE3. The reason is that we can only take responsibility for (“steward”) what is on our servers. Back in 2009 I had a really bad experience with Ning, which changed its CEO, went closed source, shut down APIs and migration tools and essentially sequestered our data and community. What’s your take on this, @Kei? How do structure the workflow to that extent?

One resource that could help is the how-to for documentation written for LOTE3, in English and Italian. It’s a wiki – it would be simple to update it, assign it to the LOTE4 group and move on.

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How can documentation be personal, legible, and actionable?

Hi all, good to hear support for this - unfortunately I’m too busy with a project right now to take leadership on planning documentation. I know @mariabyck will be documenting sessions, perhaps she’s interested in helping with the planning aspect.

I do plan to teach some informal git sessions in Matera. I’m no expert, but they will basically be aimed at showing others how to update the current unMonastery website - which will be applicable to anyone interested in using git pages for free hosting of static pages.

I ran into @SamMuirhead yesterday, and he mentioned at the Open Hardware Summit, at the end of every session they had a list of questions to summarize it - the main points, the further actionables. He can perhaps give greater detail. I think it would be a good idea to have, say, 10 minutes built-in to the end of sessions for people to go over such questions.

I also think it’s important to capture thoughts in somewhat less institutional language - I tend to bring a notebook with me and after talks, films, give it a few minutes to write what stuck with me. This could be encouraged by public hackpads for sessions - so that people can work simultaneously - that are then brought to the platform. As well as perhaps “note boxes” at the end of every session for people to drop pages into. This could risk being illegible, but I find other means, like post-its, often do not portray the full depth of conversation for those not present.

As far as stewarding the data and documentation, I assume most of it ends up on the ER servers. Perhaps installing ownCloud, which can then mount external cloud storage across other platforms, giving one point of access.


yes, the Open Hardware Summit process of using a form worked quite well in terms of developing useful documentation. In addition to general note-taking, sections for ‘attendees’ ‘conclusions drawn’ and ‘next steps’ are useful to give people a clear idea of what went on and how to continue the discussion.

However, one issue in which OHS disappointed, which I’m sure Edgeryders would not replicate is delaying the publishing of this document until a proper blog post has been written up. (still not published 10 days later…) The notes & summary need to be online straight away for anyone to reference, react to and build upon!

I like the idea of using hackpad/etherpad for real-time collaborative note-taking… this also reduces the burden of one person being the sole note-taker.

community call report back on documentation

On the community call this week we discussed documentation. Some things we discussed are right in line with the ideas mentioned here.

  1. to have a gathering at the beginning of LOTE to discuss plans for documentation

  2. to ask a few (2-4) people at the beginning of some sessions to be available at the end of the session to give a brief report back for the video- so at the end we have 5  minutes of video that sums up the main ideas.

I am happy to help with preparations–especially with video documentation.