I decided to make a site for a radio station. This was prompted by a desire to do something for min fictitional club, and at the same time it was also because I used to stream music from my computer at home, so that I could hear it elsewhere. I wanted to revisit this phenomenon.
There's a story to this, if you will indulge me. Some years back volunteers had built an internet café in my neighbourhood as part of a public project aimed at immigrants. When I was there, volunteering to man it, I would sit at a computer, put on the headphones and listen to my own stream, while at the same time I played Age of Empires 2.
Once in a while I looked around on the faces of those using the internet café. And once in a while I had to do something because people were coming or going or asking me something.
But on some of the nights it was the most leisurely volunteer work I ever did :-)
Well, some years back I found a series of lectures by an american lecturer, who teaches creativity. It was a toolkit for situations, in which creative thinking was needed. I decided to make this website about the radio station by following some of the tools he presented. I will be putting together my own method, picking from his tools as I go along. This was sort of what he was calling for anyway.
If I may oversimplify, he suggests four steps: (1) Define, what you want to achieve. This should be formulated as one or more so-called 'challenge statements'. Then (2) you brainstorm in different ways, based on the challenge statements. Then(3) you develop some of the ideas from the brainstorming sessions. Finally (4) you implement the things that seemed to be good ideas.
To get started, I decided to follow a method called 'webbing'. In this method, you start with your intial thought, and then you explore this idea, by repeatedly asking (1) why you want to do this, and (2) what's stopping you from doing it. By repeatedly asking these two questions, you get a web of reasons and problems. You then figure out, what you want to make the basis for a brainstorm. The things you want to brainstorm over should be relatively broad questions.
As an example: By asking, why I want to make this website, I found out that I would like to do something fun. Asking what was holding me back, I found out that I needed ideas on how to do that. I phrased that as a question: How can I make this fun?
By doing this I found five challenge statements, which I will be brainstorming over one of the coming days:
1. How can I make this fun?
2. How can this add to the life of my fictional club?
3. How can this show that I have skills?
+ two more, which I will not mention here.
It is a bit of a dark art to get to the right challenge statements. If you keep asking why you want to do something, you soon trail off into reasons that isn't really suited for brainstorm, such as "I want to make money on this". This is too broad. On the other hand you can also make challenge statements too specific.
The same goes for the questions about what is stopping you. Answers such as "I don't have the time for this" lead to questions such as "How can I make time for this?", and that may be outside the scope of what you are working with.
I am nonetheless confident that I have found five good challenge statements, which has defined to me, what it is I want to get ideas about. I will be brainstorming in a few days time.