Experimonth started in January of 2009 as a way to redefine New Year's Resolutions and served
that role for the first two years. These experimonths were:
A Month in the Raw (January 2009): Eat only raw foods for the entire month.
Twenty-eight Tables (February 2009): Dinner at the table every night.
The Eyes of March (March 2009: Take a picture everyday.
Get the Lead Out (April 2009): Write a handwritten note everyday.
Mileage May Vary (May 2009): Walk a mile everyday.
It's Five O'Clock Somewhere (June 2009): Wake up at 5am everyday.
There was no official name for July (July 2009): Interview someone everyday.
YCDTWTV (August 2009): No tee-vee for a month.
A Syllabic September (September 2009): Write a haiku everyday.
Octoberchest (October 2009): Do push-ups everyday.
. (November 2009): Take a daily vow of silence.
Give Up and Give (December 2010): Give up something and give it away.
jaNEWary (January 2010): Drive on unfamiliar roads or to towns you've never visited.
Return to the 28 Tables (February 2010): Dinner at the table every night.
Train & Compete (March 2010): Train for an atheletic event.
No fancy name for April (April 2010): Learn to cook a new cuisine.
Five or Fewer (May 2010): Only eat foods with five ingredients or less.
No fancy name (June 2010): Do something nice for a complete stranger.
The Big Turnoff (July 2010): No internet/TV/iPhone/electronic media after 9 pm.
August Works (August 2010): Read a something by a different author every day.
Everyone's a Critic (September 2010): Write a review of something every day.
Just Dance, No Revolution (October 2010): Dance 15 min a day.
No fancy name (November 2010): Spend two hours a day on a creative project.
... (December 2010): Write in a journal every day.
In April of 2011, it was brought to the Museum of Life
and Science as a way to co-create a fun experience with a local researchers. The experiment
went well and it's became a model for public
participation in scientific research. The first science-related experimonths were:
Experimonth: Mood (April 2011) texted participants five times a day, every day for one month, asking the same question each time: "Rate your mood 1 (low) to 10 (high)." Participants texted back this data, which was visualized on a website in context of the entire community of participants. The website also hosted a blog where participants could read about mood and positive emotion. This Experimonth was co-developed by Frances Ulman, Ph.D. (social scientist), Science Museum of Minnesota, and Michigan State University.
Experimonth: Race (November 2011) was a companion experience to the Race: Are We So Different traveling exhibition. Participants explored issues of race and ethnicity through discussions on Facebook groups. Each group was assigned a different activity or topic (e.g. Baby Doll experiment, Best of Enemies book club, Cultural Plunge, News Watchdog, Personal Timeline Project, Shutterbug, "Smart, Hot, Honest or Not?", "30 Days, 30 Questions", and Confessional) and a museum educator facilitated discussion over the course of the month. In addition to the Facebook groups, there was also an implicit association game "Smart, Hot, Honest or Not?" that used facial morphing software to change the perceived ethnicity of players’ headshots and asked them to vote on how attractive, intelligent and trustworthy someone was in comparison to some other player (at random). This gave players who uploaded their photo a view into how they are perceived as their own ethnicity and as another. This Experimonth was co-developed with the Science Museum of Minnesota (who ran a companion Experimonth called "Experimonth: Identity" also in November 2011), Michigan State University, and April Harris-Britt, Ph.D. (social scientist).
In September of 2011, the National Science Foundation funded four
additional Experimonths through the project "Science of Sharing," a partnership between MLS and
the Exploratorium in San Francisco, CA. This support
brought several MLS/Exploratorium prototypes and final projects:
Frenemy (June 2012, February 2014) paired each player with a stranger every morning for one month (a different one each day). Equipped with only one piece of information about each other and no way to communicate with each other, players decided whether to be friends or enemies, but at a price (friend/friend = 15 points each, friend/enemy = -5 to friend-er, +25 to enemy-er, enemy/enemy = 5, 5).
Do You Know What I Know You Know? (April 2014) paired each player with a stranger or two strangers (a different one each day) and asked a series of opinion-based questions. Without the ability to communicate with one another, the players needed to come to a consensus around an answer before proceeding.
Freeloader (July 2014) randomly grouped players in teams on the first day and gave each player the choice whether or not to stay with the team as the month progressed. Each day, players were given one dollar and asked whether or not they wanted to invest in the group or freeload off the folks who decide to invest.
Belonging (September 2014) attempted to visualize and map people’s feelings about belonging in various places across the world by installing a poster that asked passersby to mark or text whether or not they felt they belonged in a specific location. In addition to the mapping component, participants were asked to confess moments where they felt in or out in social situations. Many of these confessions were blogged on the Belonging website. Participants also took and shared a Spectrum Survey that used Likert scales instead of categories or binaries to collect information about identity.
In addition to the Experimonths listed above, there were two beta Experimonths prototyped for
Science of Sharing:
Trade It Up (April 2012) gave each participant a small pin and asked them to trade it for items of greater value over the course of the month.
PassWord (July 2012) split participants into 12-person teams that virtually raced each other across the country on a Google Map, using shared mileage inspired by the economics theory called Tragedy of the Commons.
And there have been the following Experimonth experiments: Experimonth: Eh? (August 2012), Experimonth: Jane Goodall (June 2014), and Experimonth: Strike-a-match (February 2013).
At their heart, experimonths are month-long, participatory blogging projects that anyone can do. Feel free to experiment with experimonths in your own life and organization.
If you have questions, contact Beck Tench at firstname.lastname@example.org.