This weekend I’m at Brown University in Rhode Island for A Better World by Design, a conference focused on answering the question, “How can we use technology to improve the world?” The line up of speakers is quite impressive. I’ll be speaking tomorrow on AfriGadget during in the time slot allocated on technologies that can kickstart economies. I speak after my new friend Paul Polak and before my old friend Ken Banks in the morning.
Thoughts from some of the speakers
(Note: I’ll likely keep this as a running liveblog today – as much as I can keep up with it anyway, I’m not Ethan Zuckerman… My pictures will be up in this Flickr set.)
Jocelyn Wyatt of IDEO, comes to the stage asking, “how can design have positive social impact?” They did interviews with 143 organizations and individuals and came away with the following two common themes for their report (download the PDF):
“Frustration with the progress in addressing problems we all care about.”
“Design thinking can make a big contribution to the social sector.”
What is design thinking? It’s looking at problems through the lens of what is desirable by people. Design thinking contributes through empathy, prototyping and storytelling. Empathy is about connecting with people and seeing the world from their perspective, not yours. Prototyping is about building to think – it helps us get answers fast (drawing, legos, etc.). Storytelling is about taking key elements and making them real.
The elephant in the room – there’s a tension between wanting to do the projects and needing to run a business.