Start Here an overview of Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things



This page serves as an archive for the MOOC and also a quick start guide to the project. Please note that this is an emergent project with over 2,000 collaborators from 60+ countries. Over the last year more than 120 self-organized events have been staged around the world.

The MOOC is decentralized which means it is delivered and accessible across a number of outlets.

Each week an email arrives via Mailchimp (signup for the list OR you can find the links below).

The email contains details on that week’s activities and provides links to media and challenges.

WEEK ZERO (available now)
WEEK ONE (delivered 8/23)
WEEK TWO (delivered 8/30)
WEEK THREE (delivered 9/6)
WEEK FOUR (delivered 9/13)
WEEK FIVE (delivered 9/20)
WEEK SIX (delivered 9/27)
WRAP OUT (delivered 10/4)

What is Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things

Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things is an ongoing prototype developed and run by the Columbia University Digital Storytelling Lab and Learn Do Share @Columbia that explores new forms and functions of storytelling. Designed to be an open R&D space (released under a creative commons license) that experiments with shifts in authorship and ownership of stories, the massive collaboration also uses a detective narrative to examine the policy and ethical issues surrounding the Internet of Things and emergent technologies.

The goal of Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things is to encourage participants to step into a collaborative framework that enables them to create 21st Century adaptations of the work of Arthur Conan Doyle. These “forked” projects use Sherlock Holmes as a jumping off point. To date a number of spinoff projects and prototypes have been created. From escape the room games to team building frameworks to high school educational programs to card games to connected objects that tell stories to Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality games and applications – Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things has provided a foundation for open creativity.

This summer and fall teams will create, design, build and test prototypes that continue to fork the project.

Goals of the project

To explore new methods of collaboration
To create an open resource for emergent technologies and storytelling
To provide a space for global networking
To create a experiential learning opportunities that are tied to actual projects
To be transparent and share the results of the experiment as we go
To create new spaces for Story-driven R&D

A few words to help frame this global collaboration

Over the course of 6 weeks you and your teammates will ideate, design and prototype a 21st Century adaption of Sherlock Holmes that embraces a set of core principles. A prototype could be a game, an immersive storytelling experience, an enchanted object powered by IoT, a sherlock AI bot, a learning program for youth and/or an experience that makes social impact. The choice is up to you.

We’re working hard to establish a non-judgmental space that embraces “Yes, And…” thinking. This applies not just to your design challenges and work product, but also in the way that you communicate and collaborate together in team and collaborative workspaces. We have a few collaborative guidelines that we’ve used over the course of the project that we’d like to share with you.

Keep it fun
Be kind
This is a non judgmental space
Listen with intention
Speak with passion
Embrace Yes And thinking
You are in an experiment
This is emergent
We embrace the fuzzy
This is a copyleft project
Learn Do Share

Building upon the learnings from staging 70+ prototypes in over 20 countries it was determined that we’d explore collaborative practice, encourage movement of teams, and build upon the balance between team space and public space. Four core design principals emerged.

Design Principals

1. The Trace
Where you see your contributions within the story

2. Granting Agency
Moments where your decisions and actions impact the experience

3. Thematic Frame
Designing an emergent space for Sherlock Holmes inspired creations

4. Social movement
Encouraging unexpected collaboration between participants

 How the MOOC works?

Sherlock Holmes & the Internet of Things is a decentralized MOOC (massive online/offline collaboration). This means that we are utlizing a number of sites and services.

Forensic Files via MAILCHIMP   – The core of the MOOC will be delivered weekly via email. Over the 6 week course you’ll receive a new email each week with lectures, tasks and challenges. You can find an archive of all the emails here.

Baker Street Irregulars via FACEBOOK – Need help? Looking to share insights? This closed Facebook group is the backchannel for the MOOC. Our goal is to establish a peer based learning & doing space. In order to do so we ask that you help your fellow sleuths. Click here to checkout the group.

Watson’s Notebook via MEDIUM – As you work in teams you’ll be documenting your journey throughout the MOOC. Each team will create a Medium blog/publication will be where you record and share your progress. Starting August 23rd here to see Nick & Lance’s Medium that is capturing their prototyping leading up to the Sherlock event at Lincoln Center in early October.

Scotland Yard  – When we reach week three we’ll open a special ideation/prototyping space. More details coming soon.

221 Baker Street – Everything in the MOOC will be archived at The archive will launch on August 23rd.

The Strand Magazine – MOOC media will be available via Voice Thread & Soundcloud. You’ll be able to find the links you need in the weekly emails.