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Reminiscing together: an IT-supported mentorship program that bridge generations through memories sharing, stimulation and collaboration in its preservation

What if we can bring together seniors and younger volunteers and give them a tool stimulates conversation and facilitates collaboration around a shared experience? That's what we would like to achieve with this idea. Let's design and build a tool that will support intergenerational collaboration towards one goal: writing a book of life stories "together".

Photo of Cristhian Parra
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How would you describe your idea in one sentence?

Bridging generations through IT-supported social reminiscence and collaboration for sharing and preserving beautiful life stories
Reminiscens is a tablet application designed to capture multimedia about a person's life stories, enriching the story with context in the form of music, pictures and other stories related to the ones being told. As a tool, it helps to create an opportunity of collaboration, which we believe can be an excellent way of engaging younger volunteers in helping older adults to create a collection of stories they want to share in the form of a book. For that, the tool allows also to digitize physical photos and, at the end, to export everything into an editable book format that can be later printed or published as an ebook. 

We believe the best setting for  Reminiscens is a Volunteering Program , for example within a senior center, that brings together young volunteers acting as listeners, with older adults acting as  narrators, in a 1 or 2 months program of weekly encounters to stimulate storytelling and capture the narrators' life stories.  Reminiscens should provide also a curators' interface that will allow older adults to explore and curate the stories that were initiated during the sessions, either by themselves or with help from the family. From our experience, Reminiscens works best when there is one narrator and at least two listeners, all collaborating in the preservation and exploration of the context of the stories. 

Similarly, the  Reminiscens Program could be followed in a more familiar context, with grandpa or grandma as narrators and the whole family as the listeners and curators of the final storybook. 

At the end of the program, the tool should export everything in the form of a  book, coauthored by both narrators and listeners. The book can finally published in an  ebook or  pdf format, allowing its sharing and/or physical printing.  

In a three months study with 10 different intergenerational couples of narrators/listeners, we have observed the potentail of this experience to stimulate intergenerational engagement, and to make people happy both with the process and the final result.
 

UPDATE 04-08-2014

Thanks to all the great feedback provided by all the people in OpenIDEO's community, below are some ideas about the target users of Reminiscens and about how to scale it up. They are all "raw" ideas still, but with the help from the community and potential collaborations with partners like AARP or other organizations, this could actually become a new, social, way for telling the story or our lives! 
 

UPDATE 15-07-2014

I wanted to share with all that at the end of this month and also during september, we will be running a second series of intergenerational  remniscence sessions supported by Reminiscens. At the end of which we will again produce  Reminiscens Books as shown in the new pictures I just added. I really believe this activity holds a great potential to motivate volunteering in young people. 

The pictures i just added show the books, each with covers of the narrator when he or she was a child and with the back cover showing the intergenerational couple that produced the book. Their happiness when they received these books was amazing!. Nobody expected that they would look so nice and that they would have produced so many beautiful stories... they kept saying "I didn't know I had this much to tell, no I want to write another book!". Notice also that both narrators and listeners are the "coauthors" of the books and that we printed 10 copies of each book, so that people could gave them away (they did so mainly to their family members, but it also encourage them to contact old friends that appeared in the stories).

There was also a special "compilation book" with stories from all the participants that was given to the senior Center community, which BTW is looking forward to organize these sessions again.
 

Who are the target users of your idea and how does your idea speak directly to their needs, life stages and goals?

From a general perspective, the main idea of Reminiscens is to support intergenerational conversations. The target users are therefore groups of young listeners (particularly, highschool and first years university students) and 50+ seniors willing to tell and share their life stories. On a more particular level, Reminiscens can potentially be suitable for three main contexts: Senior centers or retirement communities: older adults who usually visit a senior center or live in a retirement community, meeting young volunteers who come from nearby highschools, universities or other youth organizations. Elderly who are homebound or are living in assisted care facilities: older adults with mobility problems who are living in an assisted care facility could use Reminiscens with nurses or informal caregivers, to stimulate their conversation and capture their life stories. In this context, Reminiscens would mainly be tailored to the use by the caregiver as a tool to facilitate his/her interactions and conversations with the older adult, so that they can capture beautiful stories and the wisdom behind them. Families: last but not least, a third space for Reminiscens would be bringing together grandparents with their families (especially grandchildrens) in the exploration of family stories with the goal of creating the book of stories of the families. In all these cases, Reminiscens seeks to create opportunities for face-to-face social interaction, addressing elders' need for social engagement while giving young volunteers an opportunity to put their skills and expertise with technology at service of others. The experience will also give way wisdom exchange between generations. Moreover, we can think also think of "community reminiscence sessions" where a one person can bring together more than one narrator to talk and share stories around a particular topic (i.e., how were weddings in the 1950s, games you played when you were a child, etc.). In this mode, reminiscens would be used by the manager of the activity, to support the capturing of the stories while they are shared and to curate/select what multimedia content (e.g., songs from the past, pictures, etc.) can be used to stimulate everyone to remember. The multimedia content could be selected and projected to a screen that everyone can see.

How might your idea scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

There are two main elements of this idea: the (1) Reminiscence program (i.e., setting up the reminiscence sessions between older adults and younger listeners) and (2) the socio-technical system (i.e., the tablet app and the IT services that support the application). For scaling (1), the key comes from partnership with both volunteering organizations (like AARP for example) and specific senior centers or retirement communities. Another key partner can be StoryCorps, which is already working on this type of programs and might benefit from having a tool and a platform for supporting their work. For scaling (2), the services and the application must adapted for each of the different contexts where it is supposed to be used. For example, in the context of an assisted care facility, it might be useful to think about reminiscence in "groups" around a particular topic, and the nurse or the caregiver would in this case use the system to capture some stories and select multimedia to watch altogether on a big screen. Part of this is also the conversion of the stories into "books" that can be both physical or digital (i.e., ebooks). We will need to implement an "export service" that takes everything and exports it into a editable draft that can be modified to create the final layout of the book. Then, a PDF can be produced which can be printed through services like blurb.com. The most difficult part of the whole idea is to come up with ways of financing the social activities in (1) and the technical activities in (2). One potential revenue stream can come from the creation of "themed books". Imagine arriving to a community in wanting to explore what the local recipes are or what the local stories of a monument are?. Using the collection of "public" stories that are shared through reminiscens in the context of reminiscence sessions within that community, these books can become a nice souvenir for tourists coming to town. Families might also be interested in (and willing to pay for) creating and documenting the "book of the family". Reminiscens can be a "capturing" tool and serve as an interface between them and sites like ancestry.com, which are targeted to this need but do not offer yet the support for the experience of capturing the stories in face-to-face conversations. Another way of financing this would be to offer the entire program and the IT support as a service to institutions (e.g., a company, a community center, a volunteering association, etc.) or towns that want to tell their stories through the eyes of their members. Reminiscens could then become the organization that setups and manages the whole process for gathering stories through intergenerational reminiscence sessions, getting the stories from the people who worked at the institution or who lived in the town we are talking about.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to test any assumptions you might have about your idea?

An initial prototype of the tool (in its web version) is available at www.reminiscens.me. This is the starting point. There is much to improve in it to get to our vision. We have already experimented with it, but we plan to do it again during summer, bringing together seniors participating of a community center with local schools summer volunteers.

What aspects of your idea could benefit from the input, skills or know-how of our OpenIDEO community?

Fundamentally, we need to think beyond the tool, in the mentoring program in which Reminiscens will or can be placed. We think that the real value of this tool is not the tool in itself, but the type of collaboration that can support. And we think this type of interactions will best occur in the context of volunteering programs within senior centers or retirement communities. Designing this program is a task where we believe the OpenIDEO community can greatly help. On the more IT side, our current tool (and idea for that matter) is just an initial step. We have conducted an study that showed us the potential of these interactions and of the multimedia content to stimulate people to remember, but we still have to learn and do a lot: the tool needs a better search and navigation support, there isn't yet audio recording capabilities, we still don't have a good exporting function. Our current tool is also completely oriented to italian-speaking communities, so there is a lot of work to do in both translating the tools and extending the knowledge base with multimedia content that can stimulate memories of people in other countries and cultures.

Evaluation results

13 evaluations so far

1. How well does this idea inspire and engage young people to support older adults through mentorship?

Really well – this idea clearly activates young people to support older adults - 53.8%

It’s getting there but could use a bit more work to flesh out exactly how - 46.2%

This idea doesn’t really address how to inspire and engage young people as mentors to older adults - 0%

2. How clearly does this idea outline a path to scale so that it can spread from one local community to around the world?

Crystal clear – I understand all the milestones that this idea would need to hit in order to spread beyond one local geography - 23.1%

It’s pretty clear that this idea has the potential to scale but the steps needed to grow aren’t detailed enough - 69.2%

Not very clear – I’m not sure this idea is designed to scale given how it’s explained here - 7.7%

3. How well does this idea define who its target users are and the ways that it can meet their needs and life stages?

Very well – I understand exactly who this idea is meant to engage and how it will support them - 61.5%

Ok – I’m not sure I could tell you exactly who the target user is but I might be able to guess - 38.5%

It’s hard to tell who this idea is actually meant to engage and support - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

It rocked my world - 61.5%

I liked it but preferred others - 38.5%

It didn’t get me overly excited - 0%

35 comments

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Photo of Chris Heron
Team

So have you done this or would you like to do it?

Photo of Cristhian Parra
Team

Hi Chris! We have done prototype of the tool and conducted a pilot of the whole experience last year in september. The idea here is built upon that pilot, and was looking to improve both the prototype and the whole experience of intergenerational interaction.

Right now, we are looking for collaborations and ways to keep the project alive as I am in the process of moving out of Trento to the Bay Area for 1-year postdoc research position. So things are going slowly, but the whole idea is still there and the prototype is ready (although offline for the moment, while we look for a new server to host it).

On the technical side, all the code of the backend services (https://github.com/cdparra/reminiscens-lifeapi) and the UI (https://github.com/cdparra/reminiscensui) are all available as open source and my intention was to make the next version in such a way that it would work completely offline (removing the backend support), but have just not found the time to do so. On the social side, we started another series of participatory design workshops with another senior center (a "Daily Care Center" in Trento) to explore with them how would a community version of the experience look like, one where the nurses and volunteers of the center can help to collect stories in order to create all sort of materials to share with both residents and families, taking reminiscence and social interactions to a community level. This work is currently ongoing with the help of some students, and I will be following from remote.

In general, the challenge lays in finding the time and, more importantly, the resources to invest on the idea to move forward, so for the moment is only a prototype and a great experience we had with the pilot :-)

Photo of Chris Heron
Team

Could we make this a privat exchange, my business email is chris@peoplecommunicateltd.com. I am interested and could potentially commercialise this as part of a project we are about to launch.

Photo of Cristhian Parra
Team

Hi Chris,

Yes, sure. You can write me at my professional email address: cristhian.parra@inria.fr

You should also include my Ph.D. Advisor, Vincenzo D'Andrea, vincenzo.dandrea@unitn.it, because this was done as part of my Ph.D. together with him.

Photo of Kaixuan Liu
Team

A tool stimulates conversation and facilitates collaboration around a shared experience. Great work!

Photo of Ricardo Gomes
Team

CONGRATULATIONS Reminiscens Books " y Christian! "Souvenirs, Souvenirs!" "Excellente"concept in extending and exploiting the social & cultural value & tradition of oral & written & "Visual" Storybook!
You have conceived a very innovative and contemporary approach to fusing youth (technology) with the elder (history/tradition) "storyteller" in a visual & compelling context.

Photo of Ignasi Giró Reig
Team

Bravo Christian! Lovely idea. And very cute books :-) Have you considered creating a marketplace of 'Reminiscenses' books? Maybe, if you could 'focus' or structure the books towards more 'sellable' concepts (without loosing the emotional essence, of course) you could close the circle and re-fund the project?

I mean, I would be happy to pay for books with 'memories of old italian recipes' written by real, elder italians. Or, when travelling to Trento, buy a booklet with 'places were I had my best Espresso in Trento' written by the authentic people that lived there for the last 50 years.

Just some ideas.

Congrats again!

Photo of Anna Warheit
Team

I think that is a great idea. Would need to be careful about privacy rights, be clear with the elder before starting whether they prefer to keep the project personal just for sharing with family or if they are okay with putting their stories out there for the public.

What an awesome way to pass the stories down through generations though! I like the idea of compiling books based on a theme that ties together lots of different peoples' stories relevant to that area. Reminds me of the photo album we kept at the nursing home I used to work at - a photo and brief story about the residents that had lived there back through different decades - I always loved sitting and looking at that.

Could also give a copy to local public libraries (similar to how it said one was left at the community center) - could look into libraries as a forum for hosting the events as well. Lots of great ideas - I hope this takes off, such a great tool.

Photo of Cristhian Parra
Team

Hi all! Thanks for the comments! I have been off for almost 3 weeks with a lot of load from work and couldn't refined the idea during that time, but I am amazed of how many good ideas are growing around this and of all the creativity of openideo community.

@Ignasi: your idea of "sellable" concept books seems amazing. I am thinking that one way to go through this would be to allow people to select or say when a story can be shared publicly, and then a system automatically creates collections around topics or specific questions. Then, every once in a while these "collection books" are printed and sold. The question that comes to me, however, is: how can we share the revenue in a way that also the people (or organizations like senior centers) sharing the stories get also something for them? Perhaps this would motivate organizations like senior centers and retirement homes to promote reminiscens programs...

And moreover on the "theme" books, I talked last week with the manager of "Daily Care Center" here in Trento (something in between a "community center" and an "assisted living facility"), and they were mentioning the same idea. One of the nurses here told us that she is constantly listening to all kind of beautiful stories and she would love to have a way of easily capturing all that and organizing it in forms that can be shared with relatives or even the local community.

Photo of Cristhian Parra
Team

Just updated the idea with some raw updates based on your comments. There is still lots of room for improvement, but this is, and will continue to, growing at a slow but certain pace :-)

Photo of Elizabeth Zhang
Team

One way to easily share the benefits of the revenue, although by no means the only way, is to fund training programs for nurses and colleagues at assisted living centers, or simply creating care packages of the sort at participating senior centers showing the community's appreciation for these often underappreciated workers and for the seniors, once more bringing the community together. If there are sufficient profits and/or donations, it would also be great to increase the presence of computers/tablets so that the seniors can remain engaged in the digital world.

Photo of Ashley Jablow
Team

Great work Cristhian! I'm especially excited that you're calling out the 'eco-system' in which the Reminiscens tool will live. Sounds like you're already thinking about who will use the tool, how they will access it, etc, but I hope you'll use this Ideas phase as a chance to keep developing your idea further and to seek input from the OpenIDEO community.

For instance, in terms of your target audience: is Reminiscens something that should be used by the very elderly to help them capture their memories for future generations? Or perhaps by people 50+ who haven't retired yet, as a way to share their perspectives with their own teenage/twenty-something children?

Also, do you have a business model in mind? Is your goal for Reminiscens to be sold to senior living communities, for instance? Or is it something that will be donated or given away for free?

Just thinking out loud :) I'll be excited to see what you come up with!

Photo of Cristhian Parra
Team

Thanks for the comments Ashley! In fact, I am hoping to use this phase to further refine the idea with the input from the OpenIDEO community. There are, as you well pointed out, a lot of questions still open to discussion.

To follow your questions and do some brainstorming, I think an improved version of Reminiscens can be used both with the very elderly as well as by younger people who have not retired yet. With the very elderly, I immagine the focus will be placed more on the younger volunteer to help in capturing the stories, while with the 50+ he could potentially input the stories individually and then use the tool only for supporting storytelling in face-to-face contexts.

About business models, I haven't really thought about it. Quite some people had already said that I should make a startup out of this, but I see it more as a non-for-profit or a social enterprise that will be devoted to giving the IT support but also helping in setting up the social reminiscence programs. What other business models do you think could work in this framework?

Photo of Naiomi Lundman
Team

Hi Cristhian,
This collaboration is a beautiful idea. A friend of mine (who has experience writing and self publishing a few books) helped two veterans share their stories in books. He explained the 3 year process it took and what an adventure(!) - and what a gift to the next generations of the veterans' families (for one, they were all given a copy for free)! I appreciate that your idea simplifies the process and at the heart of it focuses on the relationship and sharing between two generations while creating a quality hardcopy. My background is social enterprise/business management and I am excited about the biz model questions you're asking. Have you taken a look at how photo book/self-publishing sites generate income? Like blurb.com (booksmart) and/or shutterfly photo books?
Additional thought stimulators for sustainability/income generation -
survey inter-generational families to learn their price point / willingness to pay (and at what point they would be comfortable paying, like the printing/shipping point?). Survey senior community centers/old age home management (or other potential on-ground sponsors/facilitators, like churches, YMCA's, corporations (CSR)) to learn how they promote and fund current senior social activities (what budget availability and/or funding linkages do they have).
okay, those are my thoughts for now! Best wishes - nice to see how far you've come already.
Naiomi

Photo of Cristhian Parra
Team

Thanks Naiomi! Excellent suggestions. Definitely, blurb books is a potential way to go in terms of converting the stories in to books. In fact, the first pilot book we did was created with blurb. What blurb does not support well right now is the collaborative experience of capturing the stories in intergenerational socialization sessions, so the business can be divided in somewhat two different lines: (1) organizing/supporting reminiscence sessions to capture/digitalize stories while sharing them in conversation, and (2) progressively curate stories in the format of a book towards printing. Having a biz model for (2) is kinda easier because it would be very similar to blurb probably, but where I don't know how to go is in (1), because this is very much a volunteering kind of work. I'm thinking that on (1), the biz models could be oriented to senior community centers, to which we should aim at providing a platform of services for supporting reminiscence (and perhaps other "life experiences" sharing) activities and sharing the digital stories with the community. Just thinking at loud here... For sure, what you say is something we should do: survey both families and organizations like community centers to learn how they would fit this in their schedules and whether they see a value on it as to pay something for it.

Photo of Naiomi Lundman
Team

Thanks for breaking down the model Cristhian. That is helpful.
Just continuing the brainstorming here...Perhaps design an online survey (with a tool like surveymonkey) that can be distributed through the OpenIdeo network (team's network I suppose?) and your own networks? Followers of your idea may be willing to share and encourage those they know to fill it out? (at least for the target client of families)
In focusing on my own experience (which is so limited but i'll still share!), what I see and hear is that family members want to capture their elders story for their kids and future generations. Ways we've done this is 1) real physical time together, 2) life photo books, 3) ancestry.com and 4) back in the day photo albums and videos. With the elderly generation of today, a challenge to consider is that many photos (or videos) of their younger days are physical photographs (not digital), film or slides. The younger members or volunteers may struggle with the daunting task of weeding through these materials and digitizing them? (need access to a scanner or pay to outsource task online, like at www.scanmyphotos.com). Continuing the brainstorm, perhaps a partnership with an online digitizer can help make the process convenient and economical (negotiate good price for all your customers).
Getting to your main question - how pay for step 1. Perhaps test whether you can make "paying" a voluntary donation. i.e. have a donate button to pay X, Y or Z amounts per project. Consider enabling the volunteer or senior or other involved party be able to share that project specifically with others and request donations. A challenge to this idea is that there are so many online donation platforms and requests that seem to circulate, but if people share with their own networks as they see best, perhaps this would result in returns. Your platform then could take % of the donations at some level to support the costs of maintaining it and the collaboration. If this is the case, you may be able to keep the printing/publishing costs low as well (negotiate deal with publisher) for part 2 (you could worry less about this part 2 subsidizing part 1).
More of my 2 cents!

Photo of Naiomi Lundman
Team

Congrats Cristhian on being a finalist!!

Photo of Cristhian Parra
Team

Thanks Naiomi! :-)

Photo of Leigh Cullen
Team

Beautiful idea and implementation Cristhian! Sharing stories about family and life milestones tends to be of great enjoyment for older people. These books will be cherished items for their families. The story telling sessions provide wise perspectives and learning experiences for younger people. And this idea is invaluable because it helps preserve history.
Great work!
Leigh

Photo of Elizabeth Zhang
Team

Hi Cristhian and team, I love your idea, especially how you focus on incorporating the seniors' voice and stories into the book. Could you clarify on what platform/application/tools you have been using to make these books? Do you have a dedicated application, or are have you collected a variety of other applications to help you through this?
In response to looking for further input for your project, I think it would also be great to create an online, networkable community of stories. Since you are already creating these printed books electronically, via a tablet, creating some sort of electronic publication, such as interactive, online e-book would be another great facet to add to Remeniscens. This OpenIDEO challenge focuses not only on how can we bring together the older and younger generations, and how to reconnect the older generations with their own community, but also with tools to navigate today's (increasingly technological) age. With the online Remeniscens, seniors would have a safe, manageable, and interesting community with which to interact with and learn the ways of the Internet and the tablet. My grandparents have slowly warmed up to using computers to browse the Internet, which still blows their minds, but at the same time the Internet's vastness is also overwhelming. Surfing the web is a completely alien activity to them -- they prefer to go to a single news site where they know they will be interested in the content. With an online version of Remeniscens, seniors can have a safe, comfortable browsing environment with which to explore stories shared by other seniors which are probably of great interest to them. These stories can have links to related content elsewhere on the web, which the multigenerational team and find and curate and create a richer story. Another interesting feature to add to Remeniscens is to add a geographical aspect to the stories, placing them somewhere on the world map. For one, I've noticed that a lot of seniors become really excited when they meet others from the same hometown or home country, or when they visited they same place, because there are so many stories to share. With this feature, it won't simply be by chance that these people can connect. In addition, for the younger generations, who are naturally more globally inclined, whether they like to travel or not, can learn more and get a more diverse and true account of a city or a region where someone has shared a story!
I think that adding an online version of Remeniscens would greatly increase its reach to family, friends, and community. It may seem like a big jump from you are right now, but I really appreciate and look forward to the impact that Remeniscens could have in our communities.

Photo of Cristhian Parra
Team

Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for the comment!

For collecting the stories, we created the prototype of the Reminiscens app (www.reminiscens.me, very alfa yet, but works) which can be used either as a webpage or installed as an app on tablets (both android and ios) during reminiscence sessions. The idea is that while listeners and narrators talk, they can use the tablet to digitalize the old pictures related to the stories and write down (or in the future, just voice record) the story around the pictures. The tablet app also presents some multimedia content like songs or pictures from the past and life related questions to stimulate memory and conversation.

For the physical books, after we finished the series of sessions, the stories were obtained from the applications distributed shared database, and converted in the format of books manually. First we did a pilot of 4 weeks with a grandfather/granddaughter couple, whose stories where gathered with Reminiscens and later converted into a book format by using blurb.com. In the longer pilot, we have actually worked with a local designer and worked ourselves in the layout because it was cheaper and we wanted to make several copies of the same book (so that each person would have the possibility to give them as gifts).

About the "network of stories", that is a wonderful idea!! In fact, I edited the idea to (roughly) introduce that as a way for supporting the idea of Ignasi to create "themed" books (which in turn could help finance the whole system).

Definitely, Reminiscens ought to become "networked". Right now, it is available online (meaning, it can be used from a webpage), but is does not yet have support for social networking (meaning, to connect people and stories in the system). It is still pretty much oriented to the face-to-face interaction between one narrator and one or more listeners.

Photo of Anna Warheit
Team

This is fantastic! I love the idea of hosting sessions in a community or retirement center to allow young volunteers to meet seniors and help "co-author" their story. Great for the 60-75ish age group who may have tons of old photos in shoeboxes but be overwhelmed with how to share them in this technological age. Using technology to create a physical book they can share is a great blend of both generations' versions of photo-sharing. Would also make great gifts for the senior to give at Christmas, etc. to family.

Could be used as an in-home visit tool as well. For instance, say a local high school coordinates as a summer volunteer activity for students who would pair up and take an iPad with this app installed to a senior's home in the community. I would think an elderly person living alone would love the opportunity to have some young guests, offer them a cup of tea, and go through their old photo albums with two friendly, listening ears there to hear their stories. Letting those young students capture what they hear and see and turn it into a nice compilation of that elder's life experiences is just icing on the cake!

Also, this could be INCREDIBLE for the even older population, specifically those living in nursing homes or with higher care needs. I worked in a nursing home for a couple years which had a summer program for teenage volunteers to come in and do activities with the residents - having an app like this available would be a GREAT tool for them to do as a one-on-one project with the residents. I would definitely consider adding part of your project to include coordinating with local nursing home activity directors / volunteer-coordinators and local high schools / colleges that could bring young people into these settings to provide this service. Many nursing home residents do not have family around (or at least family that visits), and the medical staff may hear many great stories but not have time to sit down and make a project like this. I can't even tell you how excited I would be to work with young volunteers and offer this tool so that the stories of these beautiful people can be preserved forever.

I have heard so many wonderful stories from senior citizens that I would have loved to have been able to capture with a tool like this and give back to them. Especially meaningful for those with dementia who may not remember the stories all the time - this way as you hear them you could add them and have a beautiful compilation to share with their family who might otherwise never have gotten to hear some of the stories. Absolutely wonderful!

Photo of Cristhian Parra
Team

Thanks for the feedback Anna! What you were saying of the summer volunteer programs in nursing homes was actually the first inspiration of this! We were thinking how cool it would be if we could motivate young volunteers to come and listen to these stories while at the same time put their expertise with technology to a good purpose.

Partnering with high schools, colleges and other volunteering organizations are going to be key for Reminiscens to succeed. In fact, one of the managers of the senior center where we tested Reminiscens said that for him, the tool was the mean by which younger people felt motivated to participate of the center, because they had a role to fulfil, something in which they were really good at and that they could really give to the community. So the storytelling sessions was not only listening and receiving, but being an active part of the story by helping it to be capture and preserved for posterity.

I updated the idea (although very very roughly) to include your comment on partnering with these organizations. Thanks for the comment again!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Beautiful idea Cristhian. Your description and talk about the "listeners" is so vivid. It brought to mind StoryCorps. Are you familiar with this project/organization? It is an American oral history project. Part of the project includes a mobile booth van that travels from state to state recording stories at every stop. Every interview that has been done is archived. Have you considered archiving these books somehow? http://storycorps.org/about/archive-partners/
StoryCorp is a non profit. Maybe your project can build in that direction as well. It is a visual story telling project and would be great if it can be shared with others!!

Photo of Cristhian Parra
Team

Thanks for the feedback Bettina!. Storycorps was actually one of my many inspirations when it began :-).

Archiving is definitely a great option, the stories are full of wonderful lessons that could be useful to so many and could also serve as a source for historical research, if it is curated and annotated properly. We need to think though how to manage privacy issues since the narrators would probably want to control what part of their stories will be made publicly available. Perhaps some of those stories mention other people too, who should be notified about their mention and so on...

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congrats on your idea making it to the Top 20 shortlist, Cristhian! We are completely blown away by the digital tools you’ve developed, books you’ve designed and the experiments you’ve run that have brought Reminiscens to life. Incredible work! It sounds like for next steps you are beginning to think about programming or where your idea might find a natural home. For this, you might consider reaching out to folks like Al Browne (of AARP Foundation) or Deirdre Gonsalves (from Mentor Up partner org, 4H) both of whom are quite active in the challenge and would be glad to connect with you to offer up programme insights. For expert feedback on the digital tools like the tablet application and www.reminiscens.me, we encourage you to reach out to folks within your network to get their tips and advice. And who knows, you might even find a few additional community members on OpenIDEO with this kind of subject matter expertise, so be sure to keep asking for input. Keep up the great work! For more tips for this Refinement phase, check out http://ideo.pn/ym-refine-tips and catch our Lowdown on Refinement at http://bit.ly/oi_refine

Photo of Cristhian Parra
Team

Hey! This is wonderful! Thank you very much for the nice feedback :-)

I will contact AARP and Mentor Up as you suggested, to know more about the programme. I really would like to take this to the next step, even if the details of that step are still elusive to me :-)
Currently, I find myself with a heavy load from my work as a postdoc researcher at the University of Trento, but will do my best to collaborate with the community and further improve the idea, especially, thinking on how to make it sustainable in time...

Again, Thanks!!!

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Team

Beautiful concept. Capturing the rich experiences of seniors using young multimedia technologies by youth. It would wonderful interaction and learning experience for all involved.

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Team

Indeed it was Veda! The face-to-face interaction and collaboration, plus the fact of seeing the result of their collaboration in a real product at the end (the book) had a wonderful effect on all the people who tried it...

Photo of Marina Tokar
Team

I think this is a brilliant idea - I have been looking for something like this to connect with /engage with my own grandmother - a bonding mechanism that helps us connect over (her) history. If this launches in English please let me know! Marina.tokar@gmail.com

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Team

Hi Marina, Thanks for the support! I am looking the time and resources to push the tool to the next steps now... I did as part of my Ph.D. in computer science, which I now finished. Currently, my work is kinda split in many chunks and I am not finding the proper time to push this again, but my hope is I will have some time to do it during the summer and in september, when we will again use it in reminiscence sessions with other seniors...

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Team

The books look awesome Cristhian! Way to go!

Photo of Cristhian Parra
Team

Thanks Ashley! As it happened, when they received the books it became on the perfect comeback after the two months of interaction. Nobody expected that their lives could pack so much interesting stories and when they saw in a book, they were genuinely and gratefully surprised of how much they actually had to share...

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Congrats on this post being today's Featured Contribution!

Photo of Cristhian Parra
Team

That's wonderful! Hope this will bring more people to contribute with their feedback about how can this improve and move forward...

And BTW, just Today I had the chance of interviewing one of the participants of our pilot project, and she was saying to us how happy and surprised she was with the final outcome of the project: the book. She particularly highlighted that "had she known this would be this beautiful, she would have put much more effort in extending the stories she shared during the study, and she really hopes she will have the chance to engage in this activities again as soon as possible".

We are getting a lot of positive feedback about the potential of "IT-supported intergenerational social reminiscence" as driver for engagement, particularly in the context of senior centers and bringing together seniors and young volunteers from schools or other organizations.

The question that I still can't figure out is: how to we make this sustainable? how do we finance the process of doing the reminiscence sessions, curating the material, exporting and edit/beautify the book, and finally printing it? (I'm adding these questions to the idea now ;-) )