Paper Anniversary: Twelve Months Spent Filling Up Blank Pages

December 19, 2023

A look back at how far the ARTT project has come in 2023, and a look ahead to 2024

Just about a year ago at this same end-of-year time, I was a newly minted ARTT-ist, working my way through ARTT's very thorough onboarding documentation. Over the past 12 months, our small team has come a long way with our project, and the surest sign of that progress is that we now have an even better idea of how much more there is to do.

So on this, my “paper anniversary” with ARTT, a look back at what we’ve written so far, and of the blank pages waiting to be filled.

How We Started 2023: Thinking About How to Reach a Larger Community

In January 2023, we were sitting on a strong library of research into the ways that people can have productive, respectful exchanges about issues. We were building the first version of the ARTT Guide, a Web-based software assistant that brings together insights about how to engage in positive exchanges around credible information, with the goal of putting an early beta version in the hands of testers. And we were starting to think about ways to reach and learn from the larger community of people who are interested in this work and in improving public conversation.

Here is what we did, and what we learned, in each of these areas:

Research: Translating What We Learned Into Something Practical

Our first job this past year was to consolidate the learnings from our first round of research review and translate these into useful, actionable items that give people ways to think about effective conversational responses.

From this the team created the ARTT Response Model, a structured way of considering different possibilities for response grounded in research.

You can see a summary and graphical representation of this here.

For 2024 we’re looking to expand these models and see how research from other areas such as conflict resolution might improve our models.

Software and Product: We Built Something!

Our goal was to get an early build of our software tool into the hands of users. In June we started sharing the first version of the ARTT Guide software tool for evaluation. Over the summer, we tested that build of our ARTT Guide software tool with the public, first with a small group of early testers and later with a group of 1,300 users recruited in partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

What we learned: Users liked the information they learned from the tool and found it useful in helping them think about response. Users also told us that the tool was too clunky and too slow to be of use for daily operations.

This first version of the tool shared in June 2023 did not incorporate any of the generative AI features we have been working on; these features will be delivered in a "v2" of the tool, likely by summer 2024. With the first version of the tool, in general, users told us that they wanted to approach AI features with caution (we’ll have more to share on this soon); they believed such features could be useful but wanted to make sure they had final control over any simply generated text and took users out of the loop.

We’re incorporating these thoughts into our next version.

Community: Who Is ARTT For?

Our big question this past year: Who is this project for? What do these people need, and how can our project help?

This year we worked to understand this in several ways:

  1. User surveys: In attention to our software testing we conducted extensive research with users, both in-person and in online surveys.
  2. User outreach: In July, we presented the ARTT guide at the National Conference on Health Communication, Marketing and Media, which brought our mission to a wide audience of health communicators.

Also in July, we relaunched the ARTT Website, with an improved design and a great intro video. And in August we started this very newsletter that you hold in your hands as we speak.

Team and Sustainability: How to Grow? How to Scale?

Our team continues to grow. This fall we welcomed four new ARTT-ists to our group, and we also devoted a lot of time throughout the past year to understanding how we can continue to grow in the future.

What’s Next?

Zero to one is always the hardest stage for any new initiative, and while we’re not yet at one, we’ve made a good start.

So, here’s to filling in more blank pages in 2024! This is our last newsletter of 2023, so you'll next see us in your inbox in the New Year.

Subscribe to the ARTT Newsletter!

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to our newsletter!