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The end.

How weird, the last blog for project communities… I remember the first one like it was yesterday… How new it all was and how nervous and unsure was I to post it… Anyway, it was a fun experience and hopefully I will not forget my Tumblr account in the future. But enough with the sentiments lets go to this week’s topic…

While using online communities and networks in innovative design I’ve learned that simplicity is the key to brilliance and I am saying this not only as an IDE student but also as an ordinary user. Who likes difficulties? NO ONE! So why make the life even harder than it already is and create fancy schmancy, hard to understand things? I don’t need to look for examples far away, even our school likes torturing students by having all these online communities and networks that students need to follow and keep up to date with the information posted. I would appreciate a piece of paper in the beginning of the year with my schedules and one site where I would see what’s for homework and when various deadlines are. How simple would that be? And we wouldn’t need hhs.nl, blackboard.hhs.nl, projectcommunity.info, and 3 facebook groups. As Plato said: ‘’Beauty of style and harmony and grace and good rhythm depend on simplicity.”

My principles for designing and fostering online communities or networks would be: minimalism, accessibility and convenience. All networks that I use share these three principles and I love it. To be honest when I enter websites which are overloaded with information or hard to use, I just turn them off because I get tired and bored very quickly.  Also it is important to use right text, images, layout, bars and even colors because all this can depend on whether the network will be a success or failure.  

To end this blog I would like to say big THANK YOU for Maarten, for guiding, tutoring and advising us through Project Communities. Also my groupmates who were patient and understanding and let’s not forget all the course students and tutors who were very helpful and caring. It was fun and useful experience, so I look forward to more projects! But firstly there are some tips for perspective students:

Dear future students,

Don‘t forget to buy all the strips and then sell it for double or triple price, if you will get an assignment to make a necklace on an introduction week. Just kidding! To answer question what would I tell next year students about Project Communities I have to answer one question for myself: What would I do differently if I had a chance to start all over again? Besides being more involved and doing more work probably nothing… Even though I catch myself thinking pretty often what if the last minute I wouldn’t have gone from team 4 to 6 (Our group was made from one person from each team). But probably it turned out for the best because I met 8 amazing people, with different talents and personalities. What tips would I give to prospective students? Be prepared! I don’t want to freak them out but I felt like a puppy thrown into the water in order to learn how to swim… There is an enormous difference between high school and university especially if we compare East Europe to West. 2 months have passed and I still feel lost and uncertain what should I do… But the bright side is that you will learn one word that would perfectly describe the mixed feeling you will have inside you- CONFUSIASM!!! 

Good luck! 

Xx Elena

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So obvious… SROUDSOURCING!

Hello my dear readers (if you exist),

New week, new blog topic and hopefully new writing of mine at the end of this evening, this is what I repeat every Tuesday for seventh week now. It kind of gets a nice tradition to spend these evenings expressing my thoughts on this online journal… Anyway, this time I have to pick one blog theme and explain why it and not others would be most useful for our client and I have a great deal to chose from: Technology stewardship, Crowdsourcing, Work teams, Crowdfunding and Marketing. The first thought that comes to my head is CROWDSOURCING! This is what I would advice Solidaridad to use in order to improve the platform. And these are the reasons why:

Firstly, by using croudsorcing they would get a number of great suggestions and advice how to enhance user’s experience & usability, maybe even from people who may have or already solved an issue like this. Croudsourcers as employees and even clients may look at the problem from more creative and convenient perspective. Secondly, it would spread the news about this organization, what would attract more investors, workers or even volunteers. To be honest I haven’t heard of this Solidaridad before project communities (has someone?!), but now when we have been working on its task for 7 weeks, whether you want this or not you have to know something about it. That goes as well with a croudsorcers, before taking this project they would have to make a research about this NGO which will bring interest and increase popularity. And last but not least, it would be economically more convenient to use crowdsourcers than hire professionals, with a diploma, that allows them to do so. I don’t know the financial situation of Solidaridad, but I assume that in these hard times, they wouldn’t mind to save some extra money.

To sum the crowdsorcing topic I think that if Solidaridad uses crowdsourcing it would be win win for both the NGO and crowd of bright minds from all over the world who are just waiting for opportunity to show their abilities.

Talking about interaction with our client, I understand that he has some better things to do than answering boring questions of ours. I strongly believe that he knows that we must get the answers from him sooner or later. But the main mistake was made by us at the beginning of project communities, when despite of cooperating with group 7 we saw them as competitors. This would have saved some time for Maarten van Leeuwen by answering questions of both groups only once and it would have given us the opportunity to think of more decent and accurate things to ask TOGETHER.

That’s it for this time, take care!

Xx Elena

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CROWD+ sourcing/funding

Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding both start with CROWD and both have similar meanings - seeking for assistance (knowledge or financing support) from other people. To be honest, before studies I haven’t even heard of these terms, even though I probably faced it every day by using Wikipedia, filling a research on how to improve one or other website, by looking for sponsors to make an event in my home town (I was a member of non-profit youth organization) and so on and so forth. But I have never even bothered to think how it works and how useful it could be. Before now…

Let’s start with crowdfunding. While others may see only advantages of it I would prefer not to use it for my future company or project. Why? Because I am weirdo. While others need encouragement while starting something new, I need the exact opposite to keep me moving forward and proving to everyone that I CAN. Also others would feel so much better  and less responsible by collecting small amounts of money from others while I would better work my backside off to gather the money I need, than use someone else’s funds. I have enormous sense of responsibility so collecting and holding the capital from people I don’t know would definitely send me straight to failure and the fact that they believe in me and my vision wouldn’t help either…

Talking about crowdsourcing, I had to read Dave Pollard’s book ‘’Finding the Sweet Spot’’ for a personal branding lesson, and I found the best quote ever over there : ‘’The biggest mistake that new entrepreneurs make is they try to make everything by themselves. This kind of business has the highest rate of failure because no one can know everything you need to know’’. When you think of it it’s so true, because believing that all kinds of things could be done on your own is extremely ambitious and a little naïve. Of course, crowdsourcing may cost or take more time, but all this is nothing compared to a big step in quality of the project.

On the other hand, it has some disadvantages too. If we could pretend for a second that I am a designer and I have a clear vision how I want my project to be and look like, why would I ever ask for the input of other designers or end users? Firstly, they could steal my idea, secondly, they could mix it all up for me (maybe I am on the right path and other’s opinion would only make me confused). And let’s not forget that it would no longer be an individual work because borrowed ideas and suggestions would make OUR but not my OWN. And it would be so nice one day to tell my grandchildren: I accomplished it all by myself with just a little help of others.

All in all, in my near future I am not planning to use crowdfunding (maybe my point of view will change later with years). And talking about crowdsourcing, it has a clear advantage as two heads are better than one, but I wouldn’t use it with people I don’t trust or if I believed 100% in my project’s success and that I could fulfill it on my own.

Hope it made sense,

Xx Elena

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Week 5 already?!

Group 6. 9 different people. 9 nationalities. 9 countries that don’t even have border with one another. How to make the members work in group as one? This question was worth 5 weeks of finding an answer to. Till last Friday actually… I think the meeting with our group leader Maarten (you are the best!!!) was a wake up call for all of us. Before we were not a team, we were nine individuals trying to make it work but forgetting that this is GROUP work, and that there is no ‘’I’’ in team, but there is in win, so in order to succeed in this project we have to collaborate, discuss and solve problems TOGETHER.

Who still remembers the introduction week? Who remembers the Thursday when we were divided into groups and most importantly who remembers Gustaaf saying: right now you are friends but by the end of this project you will probably be sick and tired of one another? (this may not be the exact quote) I do! I do! I do! At first I was skeptical about it, but right now I may understand where he is coming from… I am not saying I hate you all, not at all (I am actually looking with all the respect at every single one of you) but there is some tension between us as we didn’t yet find the golden key to co-operation…

The main problem why it is so, is that we didn’t talk about what is bothering us… I believe that we should all learn one of the best qualities that Dutch people can teach us- honesty and straightforwardness. Personally I am too honest and very often I have to suffer the consequences, of telling too much or being too direct. But this is who I am and if I truly believe in something there should be a very good reason why I shouldn’t speak up about it. Sweet lie is not always better than bitter truth.

The other issue that didn’t let us function as a team was language barrier. I know I know we could have all stayed in our countries and studied in our native languages, but here we are in the Netherlands studying international programme called IDE. It was up to us to decide if we want to take a risk and go out of comfort zones (leave our home countries, start studies in foreign language) or not. Talking about our team there are 3 native English speakers, what is 1/3 of our group and let’s not forget that some others finished international schools. I didn’t, all I know now was learned in ordinary school, this is why most of the time I don’t feel 100% confident to explain things because I am afraid to make a fool of myself. When we get tasks and I don’t really understand what we are supposed to do, I ask my English friends to translate it to ‘’human language’’ as I call it (make it casual and understandable). And thankfully they do it.

To sum up, I think our group has a lot of potential, but not all of it has shown yet. We are definitely moving the right direction and there will come our time to shine. So team, let’s resolve our issues and concentrate on Solidaridad!

Xx Elena

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We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how we DO it

Good evening my dear readers,

This week‘s topic is ‘‘My own network’’. I have never thought of my participation on online spaces being as my OWN network but I like how it sounds so let‘s just stick with it. So what does my network consists of? To answer this question I had to view my mostly visited website list and honestly nothing interesting over there… facebook, gmail, 9gag, youtube, some forums and of course hhs.nl and related web pages. You may be surprised no Twitter, Instagram, Vine or Ask? No. I deeply don’t care about things posted and uploaded over there because it’s not communicating with others it’s publicizing your private life.

As a consequence, on online spaces I mostly play the observer’s role. I rarely comment, post, like or share, but I like reading, viewing and being up to date with the latest information and gossip (I am a girl so I do care about rumors). I could call myself a social network cheater, because I use it not according to their main purposes (communicate, share information, files, ideas and etc.). For example www.fotki.com is a photo and video sharing with others site, but I use it as my private online photo album (all the albums are password protected so no one else but me could enter and view it). Also I love reading forums about everyday situations and how to solve casual problems, but as I mentioned earlier I am not a keen participant in discussions so I just stay anonymous reader. All in all, I do use online spaces as an individual, because I better prefer being unseen stalker than one of the any-price-attention seekers.

Furthermore, when the school started I have been added to few new groups on Facebook, regarding study things. People share files, ideas, help and inform each other. It is convenient and easy to use, what else could I ask for? We all had Facebook accounts before, so there were no problems of not knowing how to deal with it. But I am always open for new ways to keep in touch, so if someone will suggest even more handy network to interact I will be more than excited to try it out.

Talking about personally preferred social sites, number one is still Facebook. I just checked I have 304 friends over there( I try not to add anyone I don’t know) so basically I have around 300 people I am friends or acquaintances with. Someone said ‘’If you are not on Facebook you don’t exist ‘’, partly I agree with that because there are more than 1 billion facebook accounts and the number is increasing every day so if you are not a part of this social network mania you are nothing…

To sum it all up, we all have different networks, and diverse opinions about participating in it. This all above is my way of being a small part in this enormous global network.

Xx Elena

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Not a genius but willing to learn

When I first read the blog assignment for this week I remembered the first computer that my parents bought and comparing it to nowadays computers… well there is nothing to compare, probably my cell phone has a faster processor than that’’ dinosaur’’. I have to note that no one at that age taught me how to use it (maybe showed how to turn it on and off but that’s it) and let’s not forget all the programs were in English, the language I didn’t know at that time. So somehow I learned it all by myself, by trying doing and of course failing (I remember deleting some of my mom’s programs which seemed unnecessary to me and only took the desktop place of my beloved games) but these ‘’accidents’’ were good lessons too in this case-always to have an extra copy of the file in computer or usb flash drive. Now when I think of it, it only makes me smile but at that time it really seemed like big problems…

I can’t say I am THE BEST talking about computers because I am most certainly not… On Personal Branding lesson one guy from our class talked about how he built his own computer (he ordered parts and tools from Ebay, and actually did it all by himself, with some improvisation because he put green neon lights in it (HOW COOL IS THIS?!)), as fascinating as it looked, sadly I am not even close to that… To be honest when the lectures started I was so surprised by the number of students who bring laptops to university and that in a library the computer tables are more popular than actual books (I was even called old fashioned that I write in a note book and don’t bring the laptop with me). I have to say that in Lithuania we don’t use computers that much for school needs. Of course we do presentations and some of the writings but that’s it. I had IT lessons for 2 years in which I learned the basics of programming, some photoshoping and videomaking. Do I feel that that’s enough for me? NO NO and once again NO! My biggest fear in life is to stop improving who I am now. This is why I count myself pretty lucky to happen in the same group as people who actually know how computers and IT works. My secret plan was (well not so secret anymore as I will post it for everyone to see) to be involved (whether they want me or not) in every task which require technical knowledge with group mates who know something about it, so I could learn and grow my skills in this field. We are only two girls in our super duper GROUP 6, and we are both responsible for designing this new platform for Solidaridad, which in my mind will be fun and challenging, but most of all useful and beneficial for our improvement in technical things.

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Finally, talking about my digital identity I try to have as less profiles and with as little personal information about me as possible. I don’t really get people (no judgments though) who post every little thing they do, go, eat, hang out with or date on social websites just to collect some more likes, comments, shares or followers. Also there is a group of people who have ”double lifes” as I call it, one on the web and one in the reality (sadly most of the time they are too different and incompatible). I think that those kind of people are being dishonest, careless and with nothing better to do in life… So all in all, I better prefer not my digital identity but how I represent myself in REAL life to REAL people.image

You, my dear readers may think:’’ what this Elena girl is doing in this program she is not good for anything’’ well I would answer this with quote: ‘’If you are not willing to learn NO one can help you. If you are determined to learn NO one can stop you’’. I may not be the best at IDE, or the technical stuff because I don’t know everything but if I did what would be the point of studying at all? The last time I checked this is university, people come here to study, to learn, to explore and I am more than determined to do so.

Thank you very much for reading, hope it was interesting and easy to follow. And remember it’s never too late to learn!

Xx Elenaimage

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The reflection of first community class

To start my blog with, I would like to say that I really enjoyed the first lesson and I think that writing a blog is a smart thing to do because EVERYONE will have chance to express themselves and their thoughts. I want to note that these will be my subjective points of view, but if you disagree or have a different opinion on something I would love to discuss and talk about it, so just (blog?) me.

We were all given questions about general ideas of Project community 2013. Talking about our class goals I could easily copy paste or to paraphrase what was written on this website: https://blackboard.hhs.nl/bbcswebdav/pid-1240841-dt-content-rid-2140482_2/courses/TISH-IDE-PCOMMUNIT-11-1314/130903%20DEF%20manualprojectcommunities2013.pdf?target=blank  but I don’t really think it’s necessary or useful. So what are my goals in this class? To be honest I don’t even know where to start. One of the main would be to learn to cooperate with the team that I am a member of. I mean it consists of 8 bright young people with unique ideas, talents and abilities, they all have something to teach and something to learn, so it is VERY important that we unite and become like one (at least) for this class. We have to be like 8 musketeers/innovators all for one and one for all. Other goal that I am seeking is to learn to listen and understand what teachers want from us. I am used to teachers explaining everything from A to Z and us students only doing the manual work, but over here it’s different you get a rubric and a hint to which direction it has to go, but you have a full right to interpret and improvise just the way you want to, what gives us more responsibility but at the same time more creativity and freedom. There are so many more goals I would love us to achieve as a class and as a team, because being ambitious and goal-driven will keep us moving forward even throughout the most difficult times. I am sure that we will make so many mistakes over the years but this is how you learn, isn’t it?

Talking about getting in touch with online communities and networks I am scared of that the most. I have no experience in asking for guidance and assistance from people ‘’above’’. For this you have to be extremely persuasive, convincing and specific. Can this be learned? I am nearly 100 % positive about that, but some are just naturally better at this than others. However, it’s impossible to have everything from the beginning: we must learn to walk before we can run.

I will be honest, I am a perfectionist so question about our team’s final outcome is obvious to me: I want it to be the best and I want us to win. But on the other hand can there be a winner or a loser? Each one of the teams will put time and effort to this project, some more than others but I believe we will all do our best at it. Of course we will all win experience and knowledge, that we will definitely use on future tasks, because this is how we grow as open innovators.

Finally, my main role in our team is unclear and undecided like most of us. Some members are really good at IT, some at presenting and designing while others just have good ideas and fast thinking. So we have a little bit of everything a strong and productive team could ask for. I believe that we will be best teachers for one another. So much to learn and only 3 years of studies!

To sum it all up, I believe that this will be one of the most interesting, creative and difficult classes in this course. But I am pretty confident that we will make it through!image

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