An interview with Lance Weiler

23 Sep

The first chapter of the UX Series was dedicated to open up a debate on whether we should, or should not, use design thinking / UX / agile development / minimum viable product (etc…) methodologies while developing interactive documentaries. Over all creatives seemed to say “yes, of course” but did not really know how, or to which degree, they ought to change their i-doc production process.

So I now want to open a second chapter in the UX Series, and interview people that are active developing new methodologies to facilitate  better interactive storytelling. What are they doing differently? what are the results?

My first interview is with Lance Weiler, and it focuses on the Learn Do Share methodology (see below for more info):


Lance Weiler from sgaudenzi on Vimeo.


The first person that came to my mind was obviously Lance Weiler – the man that used to be Mr Transmedia (a constant of Power to the Pixel conference), and that has now evolved into a facilitator of what he really cares about: collaborative design of stories for change. Now,  this title does not fit into a clear box. On the first screen of his website he describes himself as “a writer, director and experience designer”, and on the second screen as “a storyteller, entrepreneur and thought leader”.  The dichotomy is quite clear: the man is more than one thing, and wears lots of hats.

What interests me is the fact that he has been experimenting since 2008 with a format that could give people the “space” they need to create different stories. The lab/event that he has created used to be called the DIY Days – and has recently been re-branded Learn Do Share event. On their website they describe Learn Do Share (LDS) as ‘a grassroots innovation engine; a combination of events, labs and peer production. We are a community for open collaboration, design fiction and social innovation”. Effectively, and this is my understanding after having interviewed Lance, the aim is to create a space for interdisciplanary collaboration where teams can agree on the core design principles that are going to enforce their projects. And this is essential because if not they drift off during the project, and the teams end up working out of sync. The more the project is using different platform, the more people are involved, and the more this is needed.

How many of us really involve the whole team from day one and work together to create a workable design question?

Lance is not specifically speaking to documentary makers. He is targeting projects that are using some form of storytelling and that are geared at creating social change. But I personally think that most documentary makers have the hope to change the world (on one level or another) through their work, and therefore this type of approach can be beneficial to them too.

Try it and let me know!



Words that made me stop and that I wanted to follow up – but that also linked to previous interviews in the UX Series:

* the EDIT process (Empathy, Define, Ideate, Test)  : check their online free books (especially the LA one).

NOTE: this is very similar to Stanford University’s Design Process – Empathize, Define, Ideate, prototype and Test.

Freedom Lab – a consultancy company in innovation thinking that always collaborate to LDS’s thematic labs – the LDS website: a resource with free articles and books on collaborative innovation

* Agile method – See Daniel Burwen’s interview in Q2:Game design

* Scrum – an iterative and incremental agile software development framework for managing product development.

* Minimum Viable product – See Daniel Burwen’s interview in Q2:Game design

User Journey – a series of steps which represent a scenario in which a user might interact with the thing you are designing

* Learning Journey –  not sure about this, I suspect is like a user journey but applied to learning experiences… This article sort of helps…

* Community Journey -not too sure about this one either, probably more like above but just focused on community changes and needs.


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