Hyperlink research - 25 conversations; 25 theses

Nov 5, 2021 5:23 PM

Hyperlink Hypotenuse


Last month we had ~25 conversations with members of the Hyperlink community, exploring a range of questions that are key to building the kind of product and learning space we envision. Questions like:

How do people manage contexts for creative work and learning?

What makes social interactions feel meaningful?

How can learning be better situated in shared spaces?

Our top takeaway: there’s amazing diversity in how people create and learn, which emerges naturally from learning that’s situated in specific, personal contexts.

We talked about so many different approaches to starting projects, collaborating, iterating, sharing — you all are working on so many amazing, weird, innovative things! Learning is plural, and learning spaces need to support this rich map of contexts. That, of course, is our mission.

Here are 25 of the most important things we heard from you about how learning spaces should work:

Shapes and Structures

Learning takes place in larger contexts: long term shapes, containers, and processes, with many different phases and modes of working

Creative work and learning can be organized in many ways: different types of projects; different rhythms and cadences; different goals or completion states

Inspiration for learning comes from many places: introspection, collecting and connecting, exploration and play, conversation, teaching, curiosity

Learning is most effective when it’s personal; when you feel directly empowered as a learner

Ambient learning is important; we can benefit from ways to work learning into everyday life, rather than compartmentalized into discrete experiences

Motivation and Momentum

Clear, concrete goals can help with setting your bearings, orienting along the way, and staying motivated when your energy flags

Structure and constraints can give your work and learning a useful shape: to help you get started, to focus and amplify your ambition, to make regular progress

Learning and creativity are often driven by making things you want for yourself: your own existing passions, needs, and goals

Getting started learning something can be made easier by finding a hook — some external spark, structure, container, promise

Artifacts and documentation can serve as containers for sharing work, as memory of your process, as tangible examples and inspiration for the future


image credit: Harvard Map Collection

Learning Through Time

Things evolve — projects can get stuck, change and grow over time, entangle with your your identity, go through seasons

Rhythms and rituals can be useful for maintaining consistent momentum and understanding learning as a long-term process that unfolds over time

Iteration is an important part of learning: to get comfortable completing things, to practice the full range of a process, to build a flywheel of habitual progress

Social media moves at hyperspeed, and is frequently exhausting — we need learning spaces more conducive to emergence and intentionality, where we can slow down and allow things to germinate and grow

It’s useful to track your learning over time: to maintain a project backlog, visualize your progress, keep notes and reflections as you go, and encourage each other along the way

Social Contexts

Peer accountability, genuine feedback, intimate groups with shared interests — such social contexts are powerful motivators for learning

Creating ways for others to get involved with your projects — or doing shared challenges or quests — can be very motivating

Structured social challenges can be useful in several ways: for sparking learning with external stimulus, for prompting experimentation and play, for building your iteration muscles

People need communities and social spaces that are accessible along an intimacy gradient, between fully public and fully private

Surrounding yourself with people doing interesting things is fun, energizing, inspiring — one of the best ways to push yourself to do meaningful things

Collaborative Spaces

We need many shapes and contexts for learning — and learning spaces need to support this flexibility

Adults who want to learn seriously with others don’t have many great options; we need to create room for alternative experiences, beyond grad school and one-off courses

It’s key to get the right people in the room interacting together — and small groups, of around 5-10 people, are particularly great

Persistent space and context for work — like a studio, laboratory, or workshop — can help keep that work going over the long term

Serendipity is useful in shared spaces; many valuable parts of learning happen outside of structured experiences, and we benefit from spaces that feel generative

Most of the above points emerged in multiple conversations. We didn’t conduct these conversations for public attribution, so we’ve shared a synthesis rather than direct quotes. If you’re one of the people we spoke with about this stuff: thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences!

We’re currently planning the next version of Hyperlink, taking as much of these insights into account as we can. This will take cues from the current Hyperlink platform and our recent Hyperspace experiments, but adding more focused structures and ways of doing things together. We’re excited to share more soon!

—The Hyperlink Team

You just read issue #38 of Hyperlink Hypotenuse. You can also browse the full archives of this newsletter.