We wrote a book in three hours. Seriously.

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Well this was the most ambitious thing we’ve done this year. Inspired by Tim Leake and Hyper Island, I had my 24 CM527 students conceive, write, design, edit, format and produce an original book in three hours.

And to make it more interesting, we weren’t even sure what we (they, actually, not me) were going to write about until the exercise started.

The book, Get out of your minivan and into our spaceship,” is available here. If you have the latest Adobe Reader, peruse it in full screen and start by clicking the bottom right hand corner.

It was a lesson in creativity, collaboration, decision-making, real-time content generation, stress endurance and humility. Trying to produce 66 pages when you don’t even know what you’re going to write about does not leave time for contemplation, pride of authorship or arguing. This was an exercise about making. And making fast.

If you want to understand the process, above is the deck I used to lead the exercise.  We started with nothing more than the idea that the book should be about what this generation might bring to the advertising industry. After that it was a free for all.

In brief the steps included.

  1. Introduction to exercise. 10 minutes
  2. Divide into 12 writers and 12 art directors. 2 minutes.
  3. Start as six four-person teams and generate chapter topics. 5 minutes.
  4. Vote on the 12 best chapters. 5 minutes.
  5. Compete for who gets to write which. 2 minutes.
  6. Writers generate a range of titles for each chapter. 5 minutes
  7. The class picks titles. 5 minutes
  8. Determine order of the book. 5 minutes
  9. Compete for who writes which chapter. 2 minutes
  10. Writers write their chapter. 30 minutes

Half-way point:  approximately 90 minutes

The rest of the time, another 90 minutes was spent on the following

  1. Art directors draw images and hand letter titles
  2. One art director scans images
  3. One writer begins to edit copy
  4. Designers work on formatting
  5. Edit, tweak, hurry
  6. Celebrate

Feedback from students was pretty positive.

Last Friday’s class was the most innovative/rewarding learning experience I’ve ever had in my many years of education (and we both know that I have a zillion degrees). Educators should do more of this.”

Thank you, Tim.

Take a look and let us know what you think.

Here are some images and tweets via Storify.