Finally! I’m able to followup after the First Open Source Hardware Documentation Jam!

As many of you might know, at the end of April, I’ve been the facilitator of a Jam in New York city: it was the First Open Source Hardware Documentation Jam – OSHW Doc Jam (see for details): the event has been sustained by many Sponsors and Supporters and OSHWA supported the event from the beginning.
We held the event with the objective to start a fruitful discussion about how to share more documentation regarding Open Source Hardware projects.

One of the Jam groups at work – thanks to Bilal Ghalib for this amazing picture.

We had almost 40 people working along the three days to think about possible strategies and solutions, prototype (some times) and sharing them with the public in real time.

Two parallel Jams in Berlin and Amsterdam were held and we are now opensourcing the format to share the lesson we learnt and allow others to use this format for this or other application fields.

I just want to give you a short comment on the content we discussed, even if the oshwa will be following up in the next weeks with the discussion (we are thinking to use public hangouts, and Social Media. There are a bunch of good places online to discuss about open hardware and we will be posting the news there (eg: OSHWA mailing list, Ouishare Factory Facebook Group, The Open Manufacturing google group, etc…)

My mission as Int’l Branches Chair here at OSHWA is to help OSHWA grow internationally: I’ve also created this Facebook group called Open Source Hardware Community to trigger a contextual discussion on building a stronger OSHW community of users and creators worldwide so…please join!

The Results

Coming back to the Jam; let’s focus a little bit on the documentation we are releasing today. The discussion at the Jam was mainly related to three separate threads:

1) Standardization: Having a more interchangeable format, a shared information *standard*, and interconnected data among the different portals, platforms, companies and projects producing and/or hosting OSHW documentation

2) Experience: Identify user experience issues, challenges and gaps in the documenting process so that we can create tools that make documentation creation easier

3) Movement / Organization: mostly related to how to replicate the event in itself and create more handy, easy to replicate formats.

We had actually run nine sessions as follows


  • Remixing Derivatives Versions Components
  • Websites Interoperability
  • Taxonomy and Standards


  • How to document your project while building
  • OSHW // OSS Parallels
  • Connecting Makers Socially
  • Accessibility of documentation

Movement / Organization

  • How to replicate the JAM
  • Ideas to create a Documentation Sprint

It’s not the objective of this post to going deep in the content since the discussion just started and we’ll keep you informed about the next steps and how to join. Here at this link you can find all the documentation available in a google docs directory A zip file is also available. All documentaion is released in CC-BY. This will be hugely useful to anyone moving her steps in the OSHW industry with a product, a startup or even just a passion

The Metodology

Here’s a link to a PDF file describing the Jam Format so that you can use it on your own

Here’s a Google Doc you can Download or Fork

Here Follows the methodology description in text.

Please get back to us for any comment or feedback!

How to organize a Jam Based on Open Space Technology (as implemented for the First Open Source Hardware Documentation Jam – OSHW Doc Jam, held in NY 26 to 28 of April 2013)

Version 1.0

Original Authors/Contributors: Simone Cicero, Catarina Mota, Marcin Jakubowski, Jay Cousins (with his unvaluable suggestions on destructuring the format)

License: Public Domain

How to organize a Jam Based on Open Space Technology (as implemented for the First Open Source Hardware Documentation Jam – OSHW Doc Jam, held in NY 26 to 28 of April 2013)

Pre – event activities


To create the communication infrastructure, we used a wordpress theme dedicated to events. More in details we used eventor theme. You should take into account that your website features:

  • A blog

  • A page for Sponsors (paying to support the budget)

  • A page for Partners (providing support, sending participants, other non strictly monetary suppor)

  • A page for the Agenda

  • A page for a bunch of hosts if any

Some lesson learnt:

  • keep the message clear and explain to the people what is all about

  • keep the message clear and explain to the people what is going to happen

  • Put an evident call to action in the homepage for registration

Advertising the Event

Materials needed

  • a PR kit with Event short description, Press contacts, Website, Host description, Event description, images to use. All should fit into one page.

  • a blueprint for an Invitation letter people can use to invite communities. Imagine this being posted on a forum, mailing list, etc…

  • A general text that you can use to explain about the event on emails/contact requests

Advertising the event is a bit tricky. Our strategy worked pretty well and was basically made of:

  • Posting the information in relevant message boards and mailing lists (we did for OSHWA, OKFN, etc…)

  • Ask for relevant blogs to cover the news

  • Search for local meetups that could be interested and send the information to the meetup organizers

  • Search for relevant people on Linkedin (or other social media) and contact them directly

Event Execution

The Production team: you should have a basic team of no less than three people if you’re aiming at an event of medium to big size (50-100 registered attendees). We used the Trello web application to keep track of the activities. Trello is a simple KanBan board. To get familiar with Agile methodologies and KanBan you can check wikipedia resources.

You should keep it simple for people that wants to join the team and contribute with the smaller effort possible (communication, recruit, logistics, others).  This shall be the more open possible. We basically included anyone seriously willing to contribute. Even from remote. Their contribution was decisive for the event success.

How we included people? By providing them with access to the Trello board and by hosting alignment hangouts.

The main responsibilities / contributions of the production team are:

  • event design/adaptation

  • communication: help to create buzz, awareness, cover the news on blogs and journals

  • recruit: recruit people that could contribute with decisive contributions

  • logistics: help with the event organization (location, food, etc…)

Each of this contribution shall have an accountable person. The use of RACI Matrix is suggested.


The Inspiring Methodology

Our Jam format was inspired to the principles of Open Space Technology. En excellent review and links about the methodology are available on wikipedia and we suggest you to read about it

How we actually implemented it

Our event spanned on three days, kicked off on Friday at 6 PM, closed on Sunday at 6 PM.


  • Session Proposals Wall: A piece of paper where you can hang proposed sessions (starting time – Ongoing/Closed)
  • Ongoing Sessions Wall: A piece of paper where you can hang sessions (starting time – Ongoing/Closed)
  • Closed Sessions Wall: A piece of paper where you can hang session reports in printed version
  • A prototyping table: A place that is dedicated to prototyping (may feature: Paper, Scissors, Cardboard, Colours, Big Sheets of paper, a 3D printer :), etc…)

Sessions move between the boards as they progress.

We had our personal interpretation of the format and we ended up with a mixed one with:

  1. A first content focused phase in the form of short pitches. In our case it was about presenting initiatives dealing with OSHW Documentation. We planned it on Friday Evening

  2. A second phase where we held the Open Space discussion with all participants in a circle and asked people to submit topics to the discussion. Each topic that was relevantly shared was picked as a Session Proposal

  3. A short Session Agenda planning: we planned almost half of the proposed session session for saturday morning, afternoon or even sunday.


Here’s the detailed description of the phases



Description and Activities

Friday 6 PM


Welcome and Name Tags

Friday 6.30 PM


The team introduces the background of the event and the resources we created.

Short Projects Presentations

Friday 7 PM

Tools and practices

A brief session about:

– Jam Methodology (OST)

– principles (such as session suggested duration, podcasting interviews, documenting)

– location facilities

– tools to use and best practices for documentation

is given by the hosts (short presentation)

Friday 7:10 PM


We sit in a big circle of chairs

The host team will greet the people and briefly re-state the theme of the gathering.

All participants are invited identify issues or opportunities related to the theme and to their skills and ideas.

Participants willing to raise a topic will take the mike/stand and talk about the issue: people is encouraged to feedback.

At some point, the facilitator identifies the session, writes it on a sheet of paper and adds it to the proposals.

The session leader shall be identified at that very moment to enhance the possibility the session is actually run.

That person must make sure that a report of the discussion is done and posted on the Reports wall once the session is closed (so that any participant can access the content of the discussion at all times)

No limit exists on the number of items/sessions proposed.

We bring some drinks and some lite dinner snacks

A second open session is run, hoping that the discussion during the drink was fruitful

Before the event closure people are encouraged to gather around the proposal wall and discuss with the leaders. at the end of the day, every participant shall choose the session proposals she’s interested in joining from DAY2

Saturday 9:30 AM

Breakfast meeting and Ignite meetup

We serve breakfast there so that people meet and start to warm up

Saturday 10:00 AM

First Batch of Work: Solution Brainstorming

Session Leaders and interested folks gather around the proposal wall. As soon as a consistent interest is formed around a Session this session moves on Session Wall, picks a Table  and moves on.

We shall encourage that sessions are kept under 2hrs: then the documentation is shared. Follow-up sessions can be re-scheduled obviously.

This process is reiterated continuously during the day, as long as a session closes people can join others in running sessions or propose/start other ones.

Putting a Session in the proposals leaves people the possibility to express interest so that after few sessions the leader (or someone else) could decide to kick off.

Saturday 12:30 PM

Reporting / Cross fertilization Session

Session Leaders are asked to give a 5 minute report of all the sessions they coordinated during the morning.

Saturday 1 PM


Lunch is served: it stays there with not specific lunch time. Work continues in the Background


7 PM

Reporting / Cross fertilization Session

Session Leaders are asked to give a 5 minute report of all the sessions they coordinated during the day.

Sunday 10:00 AM

Breakfast meeting and Ignite meetup

We serve breakfast there so that people meet and start to warm up

Sunday 10:00 AM

First Batch of Work: Solution Brainstorming

Repeating saturday kick off.

Saturday 12:30 PM

Reporting / Cross fertilization Session

Session Leaders are asked to give a 5 minute report of all the sessions they coordinated during the morning.

Sunday 1 PM


Lunch is served: it stays there with not specific lunch time. Work continues in the Background


5 PM

Reporting / Next steps focus session

Session Leaders are asked to give a 5 minute report of all the sessions they coordinated during the day.

A very special focus is requested in Followups/What’s next


6/7 PM

Wrap up

Participants are left to wrap up for next steps, finalize documentation.

A common drink outside the venue is encouraged to slow down and say bye.


People can join or leave sessions at any moment. Sessions could be close or even cancelled at any moment. The session leader is responsible of the quality of the documentation.

Opting for only Digital Documentation

Even if the principles of OST asked for having documentation readily available in paper or visual format, ee opted for having only digital documentation.

We setup a Google Folder and created a Session brief Template to be used at each session kickoff.

  • Session Leaders were asked to

  • Create a folder named after the session, create a Session Brief copy for the session

  • Add documents in the session folder

We also kept an excel file with ongoing session information and links to the session folder.


We used Eventbrite for ticketing, we priced the event at 10$ just to lower the no show rate respect a free to attend event. A slightly higher price may have helped with budget and lowering no shows rate.

 Video Documentation

Having a video operator to document the JAM will be a plus


Food is very depending on your budget, style and everything. Our lesson learnt on food is that you tend to underestimate no show rate (we had a no show rate, decreasing from almost 30% on day 1, to almost 50/60% on day 3) and overestimate people appetite. Whatever are you planning to cater for, divide by a three at least.

Requirements for the Location

  • KEY Time availability – You need the location for all the event timespan plus 4/6 hours in advance

  • KEY Possibility to attach Paper Sheets on the wall with tape

  • KEY A plenary room for the number of people you are looking for (ideally a place where we you can put up to a number of tables for eight people in line with expected attendance – no show rate)

  • KEY Chairs for all

  • KEY A projector

  • NICE2HAVE Amplified mike

  • KEY Many Plugs and cables (each table shall have at least 5/6 plugs available)

  • KEY Good Wi-Fi Network connectivity

  • NICE2HAVE A dedicated space for Lunch (not on the working tables)

Materials to be provided

  • NICE2HAVE Whiteboards with whiteboard markers

  • KEY Few Sharpie magic markers for white sheets

  • KEY Few Large white sheets for creating the session walls

  • KEY Post Its

  • NICE2HAVE Few sets of Coloured markers

  • NICE2HAVE A printer available

  • KEY Drafting Tape

Target Composition of the attendance before the event

Before the event, we had an attendee number and composition target. Ideal target was to have 75 participants with a composition made of:

  • 35% Stakeholders of open source hardware community (OSHWA, OSE, others).

  • 15% SW Developers (web/front end, backend/data, CAD programmers)

  • 20% participants from the UX / Design realm

  • 20% Facilitators, managers and reporters

  • 10% mixed participants


We created separate tickets on eventbrite, asking people to pick one specific role and we made some relevant invites, especially from the open source hardware community and this helped having relevant insiders at the table. You can actually follow the same approach.


It’s highly recommended to have at least one experienced facilitator (at least in workgroup facilitation, better if also familiar with service design) per each 8/10 persons. We had only one at the Jam and it was pretty tough


Preparation Work

The preparation work can be shared through a Blogpost and a direct Email to registered attendees:

The objective of the info will be to:

  1. Address potential ways for people to contribute

  2. Linking attendees to materials and references:

  1. Existing materials and definitions

  2. Relevant UX design materials for people who don’t know

  3. Great videos or articles


This should be published on the event blog at least a couple of weeks before and an extended version shall be sent via direct mailing one week before the event starts.

Lesson Learnt and Open Issues

  1. People can’t stay focused for three days: we suggest to keep the event shorter. A good Idea could be meeting up on Saturday morning. Another possibility is to close the event on late saturday night
  2. The subject should be broader/more loose: we had a bunch of good sessions but probably, a less focused epic would have helped to unleash more creativity and be more inclusive to non specialized attendees.