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OpenIDEATOR Insight: Jason George

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Jason George joined us from Chicago for the Amnesty Challenge, then wowed the crowd with his concepts, collaboration & visualisations and scored a place amongst the Challenge winners. He's got a multi-disciplinary background in Cognitive Psychology, Human Biology and Human Computer Interaction but notes he's been equally shaped by a keen background in Lego, Play-doh and Tinkertoys. He's currently interested in mobile products which leverage emerging technologies plus enjoys designing quirky consumer products.
 
What first drew you to get involved in OpenIDEO?
OpenIDEO has been on my radar for sometime and to be quite honest, taking the first step was a challenge to myself – to design beyond my desk (so to speak). I was designing things that I enjoyed using in my day-to-day life and while that's fun, it was time to explore the community of designers that were dedicated to something higher. So here I am!
 
And how's the ride been so far?
It’s been amazing so far! I jumped in head first and happened to get in at the beginning of the Amnesty Challenge. I immersed myself in the process and found it superbly refreshing to work with a community so committed to pure idea generation and collaboration. There really isn’t any other online community like it. It’s like being in the middle of the biggest design-jam-session on the planet.
 
You mention on your OpenIDEO profile that you're a 'builder, a tinkerer, a fiddler.' How does that effect your approach to generating ideas?
Getting ideas out of my head and down in pictures is a compulsion of mine – and because I have a hard time sitting still, this inevitably leads to a round of markers, scissors, cardboard and that big-kid-play-doh Sculpey. So for me, generating ideas is really just first grade art class all over again. Fast and messy!
 
Prototyping is a huge part of my design process and if I can’t build something in spare parts or bits of code then I don’t really understand it. I simply use it to answer questions. Are the physics right? Is it fun? Of course I throw away more ideas than I use – but this process of getting dirty with the components of a system is hugely satisfying.
 
Looking through your website we notice that your designs exhibit a keen sense of the user. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
I think it stems from a passion to understand people, what drives them and how they interact with their environment. We all have a visceral understanding of what it’s like to use a well designed object or system. I’m continually struggling to strike that chord. That being said, my projects have some basic function mixed with a healthy dose of whimsy, so to a certain extent I simply like making things that put a smile a people's faces.
 
What are your future plans around design + social impact?
I plan to spend as much time in this community as I can. The experience I had while working on the Amnesty Challenge was like nothing I’d ever been a part of. This OpenIDEO community is truly unique: it allows anyone, even if they don’t see themselves as designers, the opportunity to be a part of creating positive change in the world.
 
Cheers Jason. We hope to enjoy more of your collaborative action in future!
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