I am experimenting with using online tools as “idea incubators”–places where I can gather notes, clippings, links, etc. about an idea and flesh it out until it’s ready to turn into an actual project. I was inspired by this article posted in LifeDev. While my first experiment is for a personal, creative project, this would also be a good way for small teams to collaborate on any kind of project idea.
I think web-based tools are ideal for this sort of thing for many reasons:
- They are computer independent so you can work on your idea from anywhere
- They take advantage of linking to web resources to build a library of supporting materials and tools for the idea
- They allow for organic idea building using techniques like tagging and cross references through links, which I think is ideal for the early stages of idea development
- They usually have built-in support for collaboration and commenting
- Many tools have options for keeping things private, sharing with a small group or publicly sharing, and for changing between these states as needs change
- They are often free
Right now, I am playing with using WordPress to incubate and develop a creative idea. I chose WordPress because I am exceedingly familiar with it, from having used it for over a year now to blog, and because I can keep it private until I’m ready to share. I can use both tags and categories to organize my “notes” on the idea, and use the blogroll to build a library of supporting web resources. I can also take advantage of the widgets to capture information from other web tools, such as delicious or through RSS feeds.
However, WordPress may not be the ideal tool. Other tools that might also suit are personal wikis and the Google suite. Wikis are particularly attractive because they have built-in features for easy organizing and cross-referencing of a growing body of information. Now that I am using a wiki at work, I am really appreciating how versatile and powerful they are.
This is something I’m just playing around with now, so I’m open to ideas. Anyone else using web-based tools to nurture and grow their ideas? Do you have tips or suggestions to share?