Debate Writing


In March, 2013, Jesper Christiansen (Mindlab), Sarah Schulman (InWithForward) and I met in Copenhagen to test a new methodology: Debate Writing.

The three questions we discussed together are the following:

  • How do we put social sciences into action, not simply design them?
  • What’s the role of laypersons in our work? Are we simply making tools out of users?
  • How do we spread & scale processes, not just products?

To quote Sarah, “We’re pretty good at raising questions. As the ‘social scientists’ on our teams, we’re often in critical thinking mode. But sometimes we get caught up in endless conversation. Where we talk about what we already know, rather than actually challenge and advance our collective thinking.”

So we decided to put our pens to paper. Well, our fingers to the keyboard, and force ourselves to actually debate the questions we set forth. Of course, what we came up with wasn’t definitive or polished. But it did open up some new arguments and ways of conceptualizing issues we all face in our day-to-day work.”

Here’s how it worked:

    • We brainstormed three topics relevant to our day-to-day work.
    • Each of us took one topic and wrote an opening, 45-minute statement on it.
    • When the alarm buzzed, we turned over our statements to the person sitting on our right, who had 45 minutes to criticize and/or add to it.
    • We repeated the process again until we had compiled three perspectives on each topic.
    • We printed our drafts and looked for the thread. What conclusions did we draw?


Anna Lochard

Date de parution : March, 2013