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Using vlogs and open collaborative space to help the First World better understand and help the Third World.

First World designers can't use human-centred design to help if they have not been to these countries - bring these countries to us.

Photo of Michael O'Sullivan

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Please see my user map for a visual explanation of my idea. I guess I find it unfair that one needs a year or more experience in these countries to help. It's completely understandable that this would be a requirement, but it shouldn't have to be. I'm here thinking "How can I compete against all these people who have lived and worked in these countries before?" But I shouldn't have to compete with them, I should be able to collaborate with them, as well as the natives of these countries. Everyone should be able to help, and that's the foundation of my idea. In the US and Europe, it's considered stupid to try to design for people without talking to them and using a human-centred approach. The problem is, for most people who have not been to these countries, but want to help, all they know is 'poverty, poor drinking water, etc.'. There is no real understanding, and so even if people want to help, they don't know how. Lots of people like me want to help, but we can't visit all these places in need, so why not bring these places to us? Give cameras to the schools with internet in these countries. Let youth work together to create videos, showing what their life is like and encouraging them to see problems and work on solutions. Share the videos with us, and collaborate with us online. We can share ideas, test prototypes, etc. This way everyone can provide human-centred design solutions to very real problems, while East African youth learn vital economic skills.


Everyone benefits, both First and Third World. First World: Learn about these countries - their cultures, communities, difficulties, their beauty. Third World: Key economically valuable skills, inc. - Computer skills (video editing, internet use) (already rising YouTube scene in Kenya) - Communication skills (explaining through video,sketching, English etc.) - Problem identification and problem solving - Collaboration with others worldwide (designers, engineers, business people, etc.)


I'm 21, Irish, Masters student in New Product Development in the University of Limerick, Ireland. I do not have any experience in these countries, but designers have a responsibility to design for social impact, and so I want to make it possible for everyone to help - whether experienced or not.


  • Kenya
  • Rwanda
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda


  • Not yet.


  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year

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Photo of Paul Anca

Hi Michael,

I like the problem you're trying to solve. At the same time, I also believe it is trickier than it seems. When I think of my travels to Africa or Asia, no movie or blogpost or story even got close to experiencing the life in those countries. Any this is just the culture shock - then you have deep societal issues which are far less visible, unless you really live up the experience.

I have hopes in VR though. VR movies of issues in developing countries might be able to do just that. Let me know if you need some help with this contribution, I'd love to give you a hand.

Photo of Michael O'Sullivan

Hi Paul

Thanks for your feedback, I really appreciate it. I do believe that this is definitely something that would benefit these people, and that there has to be a way of helping us better understand their lives and their needs. Ironically enough, I don't understand their needs, which is why I came up with the idea, but it's also something that will make the project very difficult. 

You're right, VR might have great potential, especially as barriers to entry are being reduced every day, and it's so much more submersive than simply looking at a screen. If the idea goes through to the next round I would love to work with you, thanks so much!

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