Dourish kicks off ‘Shut Up and Write’ gatherings Oct. 24

October 19, 2016

Chancellor’s Professor of Informatics Paul Dourish returned from a recent sabbatical at the IT University of Copenhagen. There, he encountered a useful practice: Shut up and write.

Exactly as it sounds, “Shut up and write” is a weekly gathering for faculty, students and anyone else to gather and have a silent meeting where they … well, write!

“Noting the difficulty in getting both time and encouragement to write during the working day, hemmed in as it is by meetings and commitments, [IT University associates] decided that perhaps writing should BE a meeting and a commitment,” says Dourish. “So, ‘Shut Up and Write’ is a meeting where people—faculty, students, and anyone else—gather in a meeting room and write together regularly.”

Each meeting begins with 5-10 minutes of casual interaction, during which people announce what they plan to work on; then everyone shifts gears to the topic at hand—50 minutes of silent, collective writing. This cycle can be repeated a few times over the course of the afternoon, as they did in Copenhagen.

“I can attest to its effectiveness,” says Dourish. After all, the core of the first chapter of his new book was written in one of those very sessions.

Dourish adds, “Something about the meditative silence punctuated only by the clicking of nearby keyboards spurs productivity.”

For Informatics students, as well as the rest of us in ICS, this experiment will take place on Mondays, starting October 24, in Donald Bren Hall (DBH) 5082 from 3-5:30 p.m.

It will be interesting to see if the same model might work for us anteaters.

So gather your thoughts (and a laptop), and come to DBH 5082 next Monday to shut up and write!