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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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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

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.

WHO BENEFITS?

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.)

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU

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.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

  • Kenya
  • Rwanda
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Not yet.

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

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

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15 comments

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Photo of Paul Anca
Team

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
Team

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!

Photo of Ilana Milkes
Team

I really like this idea. How will you guarantee the videos are done? i.e. infrastructure, video curation

Photo of Michael O'Sullivan
Team

Hey Ilana, thanks for your interest in the idea! To be honest, I'm not really sure yet, that's something that would have to be worked on in the refinement stage if my idea goes through. If it does go through and you have any ideas I'd love to collaborate with you!

Photo of Chiefkeya The-Mogul (Kevin Keya)
Team

Michael O'Sullivan great idea. Perhaps you can leave me your email, we talk more about this project. Thanks. 

Photo of Aden Date
Team

It's good to see this idea get some traction.

As a provocation to Michael O'Sullivan - one of the challenges we face today is not the lack of images of life in Africa, but their saturation, and the (resulting) distrust in images in the West. I think if you want the images to be useful and transcend what is already available-- through art, documentaries, and popular media-- your filmers would need some training in the kinds of data that are useful to designers. I don't know that it's enough to ask people to film "their daily lives," as they may (for example) omit things they regard as shameful or banal, even though these events may provide the greatest opportunities for design.

Another issue I take is that your initial problem statement isn't "People living in East Africa lack access to solutions powered by design thinking," it's "I [and people like me] want to help but can't." This could just be an issue of re-framing but it's valid to ask if the correct solution to a lack of design thinking in Africa is digital cameras and foreign help, rather than local capacity.

Just some food for thought. Broadly, I think avenues for cultural exchange through film are valuable, there is a lack of "authentic" images of day-to-day life in Africa, and there is a need for more design thinking, so I think you're on to something but I'd be keen to hear your thoughts on the issues above.

Photo of Michael O'Sullivan
Team

Hi Aden

Thanks so much for your feedback. You're actually right - it's the saturation of typical images of extreme poverty that make it difficult for people without a proper understanding of the situation to help. I decided to omit the term 'design thinking' as the term is used so much, often incorrectly, these days, however I completely agree with you. The youth using the cameras should be encouraged to use design thinking and problem solving skills to better identify problems and work to solve them, as well as share the problems with foreign help, and collaborate with them.

I understand where you're coming from in terms of my initial problem statement, but I'll put it to you like this: Imagine you have some problem in your house. You get 5 people to look at it, but none of them can really understand the problem or generate solutions. If you continue to ask these same 5 people to help you with this problem everyday, it is unlikely there will be major change. If, however, you bring in a world of people, you will surely find lots of solutions. This is my reasoning for my problem statement. There is a huge number of people with the skill and desire to help these people, but only a tiny percentage of these people have experience in these countries, which means there is only a tiny percentage of these people seeing the problems and generating human-centred solutions. This ability needs to be made open to the world.

I definitely agree with your points though, and a lot of work would have to be done to ensure that the film shared is of optimum value. If this idea does qualify for the next stage, I'd love to collaborate with you if you would be open to that. 

Photo of Barbara Gagnon
Team

Love it! Certainly a different take on things but fantastic! I would love to see your idea succeed.

Photo of Michael O'Sullivan
Team

Thank you so much! :)

Photo of Deborah Nyambu
Team

Thanks B Gagnon!  I would love to see it succeed too!  Wouldn't that be just fantastic!

Photo of Deborah Nyambu
Team

Michael O'Sullivan What a unique perspective of the whole challenge...

Photo of Michael O'Sullivan
Team

I hope you mean that in a good way! Haha :)

Photo of Deborah Nyambu
Team

It is unique, Michael...what they could call 'Analogous Inspiration' or even 'Extreme' in design thinking...its good to see things differently...thats where great ideas emerge!

Photo of Lei Lei
Team

Hi Michael, I completely have the empathy with you through your idea. For most of people in the world is hard to really go to these country, can if people are not in the field then hard to know the really situation of it. All good, but I'm just trying to think the way how to make your idea more economically rather than just share and fun.

Photo of Michael O'Sullivan
Team

Hey, thanks for your feedback! Yeah, I feel the same. I was thinking that this would also help the community improve computer skills, communication skills, problem solving etc., However, the title is 'Expand economic opportunities for youth in East Africa', and my main reasoning for my idea is that it would enable more people to come up with solutions for the above title.
Imagine if my idea were implemented and this project were run again...I think there would be hundreds of contributions, from people who haven't been to these countries, but still have an improved understanding and empathy. 
Or imagine if during this current project, we could collaborate with and get feedback from not just each other, but from the people we are actually designing for!

If you have any other ideas though, I'd love to hear them, thank you :)