I’ve always had a sketchbook with me back to the days when I was in school. They’ve never been that pretty and def. not something to show other people as a best practice as what to do. Over the years the sizes and formats have changed. I’ve had big hardcover books, moleskine’s and now I always carry a small muji w/ me. But I’ve never felt completely at ease using them. Looking back now, I’ve had an uncomfortable permance dealing w/ ink to paper. It wasn’t until I started working at daylife that I really started working with a whiteboard. Simple interaction stuff, nothing that fancy. About a month ago while I was working at home on some data flows for the new ten15am site (coming soon) I blurted out to twitter “i wish at this precise moment at home that i had an erasable white board” b/c I couldn’t get down on paper what I wanted.
About a week later I found myself at the muji store in the nyt building b/c I had to buy some new pens and sketchbook. As I was walking around I discovered that muji sold a couple different sized whiteboards. Thinking back to my initial issue I bought the mid size board that’s pictured above. I don’t know what the exact size is so I placed an iphone on top of it for scale. I also picked up a brush and a pen. The pen is actually pretty cool but there’s two pieces that you have to buy. There’s the ink and the actual pen, though from the packaging I wouldn’t have known that I needed both pieces if one of the people at muji hadn’t mentioned it to me. As an visceral experience, putting the ink into the pen and watching the white felt tip go black is actually a really cool thing to watch. If you end up getting one you’ll know exactly what I mean… In the end the total price was about thirty dollars.
After bringing that board home I sketched out a ton of things, it opened up a lot of freedom to explore options that I never felt I had on paper. I was so pumped I went back to muji the next day and bought another whiteboard for work. Typically when I’m happy w/ where the idea is on the board (or not) I’ll take a quick picture from my iphone and email the image to me so I have a copy of it somewhere. That allows me to have a record to come back to. The proportion and size of the board fits nicely with the iphone and everything is readable. Now that I’ve been working with this process for a while I’m not sure how I could have worked without one. So if there’s one takeaway from this post – go find yourself a whiteboard b/c it might open up things in a great way.
I’ve been meaning to do this whiteboard post for a while, but it wasn’t until I saw a video clip on smarterware about coldplay on 60 minutes where for a couple minutes Chris talks about process. I’ll spare you from watching the whole thing (unless you’re a fan and then you should start from the beginning) and fast forward to about 7:01 when Chris is described as a list maker that puts notes on scraps of paper and anything else that’s available including his piano. Such a great idea to be able to relax enough to let an idea come together. I was a bit surprised that the pen is permanent and not like whiteboard erasable – but to each they’re own I guess. Either way it’s worth watching to see how someone else works out concepts. He also briefly talked about rules, tons of rules – b/c they’re important in his own words. If you’re making out specifications for a project that idea of rules is something that’s relatable.