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Are we open enough?

Could Facebook’s and Google’s Project Loon be the solution to a more open and collaborative environment?

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The wonderful world of technology has brought numerous tools that many of us utilise on a daily basis - cloud sharing, video conferencing and open education. We use these to provide information, learn and communicate professionally and or personally. These developments and the internet of course, are limited only to those that have access.

If you are reading this - you are lucky.

What about the 4 billion people in the world that do not have access to the internet regularly or at all? According to the United Nations, that’s a whopping 57% of the world’s population accounting from countries including China, India, sub-saharan Africa, North and South America.

What about the ideas and thoughts of these individuals?

Are we missing out on some treasures of insight that could be pivotal to our design decisions?

How can we be open and collaborative by being more inclusive?

These questions don’t necessarily generate any easy answers however, imagine the impact to our global community if the remaining population were also ‘online’. I envisage the many opportunities that this would create for all of us - greater insight for innovation as well as potential for employment.

Openness by definition is steeped in values of being transparent, acceptive and providing accessibility. Those of us that have been fortunate enough to travel to developing countries have observed the less fortunate and are reminded in those moments of how truly privileged we are. Often we are even inspired through studying the behaviours of how individuals within these communities that have so little, yet find ways to be joyous. It is interesting how it makes many of our worries redundant almost instantly. I see their upbringing and life experiences being different to our own and therefore their thoughts and ideas will offer valuable insights.

We don’t know the answer just yet of how we can be more inclusive and open to reach these communities however projects of the likes of Facebook’s and Google’s Project Loon are working on ways to connect ‘everyone’. Either we need more of these initiatives or we need to seek ways to collaborate with these organisations to help foster these initiatives sooner. Inventing ways to connect with more of our population will heighten our understanding and provide insight that would help to improve open innovation.


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Ria Manchanda


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