NOTE: This is a full archive for the Project Community: You & The World (2013) please see the main site for the most up to date information.

All Posts Published at: IDConorThompsonE

Week 7 – A Sort of Reflection.

            This weeks theme was marketing but that is not specifically what this blog addresses. This week we have been asked to look at the project in context I guess, looking back at what we have done, and which will be of most use to us in our challenge. We should first remind ourselves what the themes have been over the last 8 weeks. We explored four distinct themes.

            Idea networks was the first theme we looked at, we explored how our projects needs could be identified and how ideas can be generated using the internet, online tools, whatever is at your disposal! After this we moved onto working teams and how to design a team. How online tools can be further used on a global level, how to organize teams of people separated geographically and so forth. This was a very important week for us, but more on that later. We then moved towards less creation and more promotion. Crowd-funding and marketing were the last two themes and both of those had varying degrees of application for our challenge. Crowd-funding looked at how new ways of investment options for designers and business’s can benefit their causes and allow anyone to bring something to market with support enough to at least break even. Marketing obviously is selling your ideas and getting them out into the world, however, our challenge with Soildaridad is orientated on creating a system of collaboration and improvement. On having a system flexible enough to support different regions and infrastructures but also be user friendly and have an over all good experience. This experience has to be good enough to retain users and make the intranet a success. With this being said the first two themes in my opinion had most importance for the project’s challenge itself.

            Design work teams I believe was a very influential week on our teams ideas and end result. My first reason for believing this is the challenge itself. We were asked to create a user-friendly system, a system that gave it’s users a good experience. This was the core of our challenge and using various technologies like Google Hangouts and Meeting Notes gave our group insight into the possibilities previously unknown to us. This way of collaboration was intriguing but not always flawless. It took a few weeks to get the hangouts working fluidly, and of course there is this transition time between systems, familiarity vs functionality. In the long run of course it is better to accept change and adapt, or to be the one creating the change. These weeks really showed how if these systems were integrated properly then it could be of a huge benefit to even just us studying. Solidaridad is about sharing and creating a better future and to do this communications are so important and the ability to work online and share this work will only help speed up the process of improvement.

            The second reason I thought these weeks were incredibly insightful was that we did not have much pressure, not a whole lot of work (relative to now). This relaxed people and you could identify the types of people in the group and how they interacted without a looming deadline. Being in the first weeks of school this added a further dynamic to the situation, people were wary of impressions and tended to not push their ideas as much as maybe the idea deserved. On two levels this was good because I could see who wanted to work and who was keen on the project itself. If the project excites you and motivates you without pressures of looming work then you can start identifying that person as someone willing to put in effort and work. Conversely you noticed the shy types and identified them. Everyone has ideas and I think everyone has the potential for great ideas, as I said some people don’t push their ideas as much as they should so sometimes you need to help pull the ideas out. This helped towards the end result because I started to get a good feel for the group and how it was forming, but also how it could be flawed as we had many strong personalities and varying opinions on the actual meaning of the challenge. This was partly due to the lack of response from the contact but also from a subtle language barrier. The nuances of the English in the briefing sheet left a lot of information to be desired. This later into the project caused a panic but it all just in the long run helped form our own working group, much like we had to do for Soildaridads intranet.

            Lastly this in this theme we really started defining the needs of our NGO. Although clarity might have been lacking at some points on the task at hand, we really started getting a good framework for a system that eventually turned out to resemble our final ideas. The theme previous we had worked on a diagram defining the needs and priorities of our NGO, however, this was very term dependant. You had to the find the right words and anticipate the relevance based on the information you knew. After a week of reflection we all came back with radically changed ideas because of how we all interpreted the diagram differently. User-experience to one is not the same thing always as it is to another. You could chalk this down to language, cultural differences, stupidity, whatever, it doesn’t really matter though because what it does is it brings you away from your own ideas and into someone elses.  Having to have a discussion about what exactly is user-experience a week after deciding it was very important felt odd but also felt much more constructive. We started to gel together in this week I felt and despite hardships faced later on I think this week could have went entirely differently and so would have the result of our project. Hopefully the success of this week is reflected in the grading over the project over all. 

            The solution to our challenge always had to be a system of collaboration and sharing. Intuitive ideas could be quickly brought to life and shared around the globe. Time is important in Solidaridads quest of sustainable practice by 2050 because it’s a massive problem to tackle. I believe the only proper way to achieve this is to be truly open source. Is to have an intranet, which also acts as a primary source of news for the company. Looking at the Facebook of Soildaridad, only 1600 likes, however, the thunderclap achieved much more success then the Facebook. To me this indicated a break in the connections between their outlets. I think Instagram, Tumblr, should be incorporated into the drupel system, bringing people to the website and Facebook more. Using these two platforms as a home base and bringing people in with images from around the world of hope and progress will entice people to keep in touch and best of all most international works probably have an iPhone. In regards to collaboration a layer under all this open source would allow people to collaborate and work behind the screens, publishing, sharing, commenting to colleges and the world, to spread the ideas and movements started. I think this is how Solidaridad could reach a lager audience client base and have successful implementation of the system. You have to give not just the people a reason to care but also the worker to care about the relevance and influence this system could have towards their goal. 

Has been a good productive week, so lets keep it up! 

Conor Thompson

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Community, Group 7
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: IDConorThompsonE

Week 7, MARKETING [Teamwork Assignment].

Marketing, user-feedback, and customer support and very relevant in todays digital world. Business’s now specialize in website functionality and user friendliness. Looking at Solidaridad and it’s own branding, it falls into a weak category. Firstly there isn’t a clearly defined logo or iconic image, which brings back to memory the NGO, and it’s purpose. This is much different to a word or a name in the corner of the upper left to left you know which site you are on. Firstly we believe Solidaridad should maybe not rebrand, but make itself more iconic and use this as a way to spread the message. Social networks today give business’s incredible power over their consumers habits and the exposure to their products.

One example of a such a strategy would be to start using the integrated functionality built into sites more and more. Twitter posts can also be posted on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and so on: all at once. This allows a much larger audience base, and you keep the message clear and consistent. Perhaps using Instagram for example, in a more informal way to grow awareness will be free, and effective. Posting images with text (much like a Meme) to keep in touch with the generation today would pull in more and more attention towards Solidaridad, especially from the younger generations. This is important and the younger audiences (digital natives) are more willing to ‘share’ and ‘like’ then digital migrants (the old generations). In a world of social structure online and offline, having this foundation for growth and awareness is key. Maybe this sounds like an obvious and simple solution but the trick is the integration between the systems and the consistency. This will also help Solidaridad outside of the Netherlands because the name itself is not the best for English audiences, the phonetic pronunciation is quite tricky and makes it less likely the the name sticks in your head. The unfamiliarity of the name should be balanced with an iconic image/logo which implies the purpose of the company.

How can the effectiveness and success of such a strategy be quantified? Simple, with todays growing desire and need for successful online strategies, companys spring up answering needs. Google.Ads is one option of measuring the success of the strategy and best of all, Solidaridad probably uses it already for measuring the success of their website. This is a standard in large business’s. Google.Ad, or Google.ad watch track and checks not just site visits, but how they get to your site or content, how long they stay, and how far down you are in standard google searches. Getting this last rating up is important for site visibility and promotion. To do this you have to increase your digital fingerprint by posting content, and lots of it. Shares and likes as mentioned increase your position on the worldwide web and this is important. Typically with this strategy you would expect to see an increased following over all the systems. This would be a exponential growth increase as to be reliable you need to have history and posts, so it might take a couple of weeks until Soildaridad has enough content to become ‘followable’.  

Group 7 Teamwork,

Week 7. 

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Community, Group 7
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: IDConorThompsonE

Week 6 – Crowd-funding Networks

This weeks topic is crowd-funding. This idea has amassed huge interest in my since it first heard about it 2 years ago now. The concept that you can have an idea but no money, share the idea and hope to get enough people believing or desiring your product to invest towards a real working thing doesn’t appeal to just me as a creator, but to me as a consumer. The ability in a sense to control what is and what is not important gives the consumer power, and power leads to decision and this is one of the big reason why I think crowd-funding can work so well.

 I do see some limitations of the platform for a designer especially. My uncle is a patent lawyer so I’m for ever sending him emails with mad questions about ideas I have and how I would go about getting it patented – haven’t got far enough to patent anything… yet – it costs approximately 900 euro for a patent, and this includes 3 classifications from a possible 40 I believe. For example Angry Birds lets say patents the brand but doesn’t patent it in the consumer food category or whatever. This would be a potential loophole to be exploited. Crowd-funding takes time, it doesn’t happen over night and with ideas ranging from a couple of thousand euro to hundreds of thousands it’s easy to see how the quantity and size of such a website could mean your idea gets lost, or traction is slow. In either case you could find yourself in a situation where someone else improves on your design before you can complete the original, or a variation etc. etc. legally as a designer I wouldn’t feel so comfortable with the whole open source aspect, as confidentiality is important, especially in marketing, how often does Apple show how the phone really looks until right just before the shipping date? Very very rarely.

            On the advantages of crowd-funding, I think it’s already clear I’m very intrigued by the idea. The amount of madness and lunacy you can find (idea-wise of course) is great, and whats even better is sometimes they have reached a few percent of their goals and it just has to make you smile that there are other bizarre people out there, they are just willing to go for it and stick it online. Sadly there is far from enough capital to fund all the ideas, and with some websites having regulations that investments are either permanent or some portion is always considered as a payment in some fashion. This leak capital from those willing to invest when ideas fail, making people hesitant over time I think and giving a worse and worse reputation. Compare it to gambling, high intensity and risk game, you can lose money or gain enormously (especially if the idea is genuinely awesome), but with crowd funding there is not addictive adrenaline aspect to it. Overtime with failure and failure experienced people will inherently be less likely to invest more and more money. In design and crowd funding, I would be happy to use it for projects, which were purely were designed for the benefit of people and not the promotion of my own personal brand or monetary gain. I think as a designer a very important aspect to consider is how to market or differentiate yourself from the rest of the ideas? How can you make sure that your idea (because you only put it there because you believe, otherwise you’re an idiot) is a success and can go on to help people? These are interesting questions to consider over the week while we work on our assignments and the intranet challenges for Soildaridad.  

Over and Out, 

Thompson. 

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Community, Group 7
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: IDConorThompsonE

Week 5 – Teamwork

Within our group, when working together face to face our communication is spot on. Recently defining a better meeting structure also has helped improve communications within the team too, however, our consistency with meeting attendance (overall) leaves something to be desired. Of course it is understandable that people have plans and cannot attend a class (I had this issue myself this week in all honesty), but at the same time the implications of having a missing view does mean we have to catch the others up on new developments.

I guess this segway’s nicely to the groups challenges. This mainly stem I believe from cultural differences. Some members of the group like to have strict planned and to the dot timelines (not a problem) but cant handle when those timelines get screwed. Other people in the group prefer loose timetables, based around a week and some set goals to be finished by the end. This makes for tension when arranging and setting goals.

Another challenge we face is defining the challenge and the requirements. Over the last week it is becoming clearer but the Skype questions and answers with Maarten this evening should clarify that issue before this blog post even gets to the ProjComm site. In one respect size is an issue, there are not so many tasks to divide (as of yet) and this means doubling up on work, which is really designed for one person. Size does matter, in this task I would prefer the group size to be much smaller and dedicated and focused on the tasks at hand.

I think we need to make some changes next week to speed up productivity and start orientating ourselves towards the final presentation/video/idea. We have discussed these changes already and I believe already have been blogged about. Without touching to much on the same stuff we came up with a proper meeting structure and we are using this in such a way that we divide and delegate properly and define goals early in the meeting, then we look at the weekly work and decide how best to tackle it. 

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Community, Group 7
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: IDConorThompsonE

Week 4 Blog, Networks.

I primarily use the internet for knowledge acquisition. Everything you could imagine can be found online and I don’t mean Wikipedia or a typical standard method of knowledge discovery. Medical articles, physics journals, design briefs and even patent googling are good examples of how I use the internet. When it comes to network expanding or something, that is entirely irrelevant to me. I don’t and will not ‘get to know someone’ online because I do not think that is how people work.  

When it comes to online interaction I think it’s the downfall of or current society/generation. Online communication is not just easier but more comfortable for the masses of people. I actually remember having no phone or internet growing up in Ireland, so to meet friends you would actually leave your house and go their. Yes move and go there.  The internet has added this abstract idea of planning and time to even the most mundane events. Friends I have create groups for just going out for drinks one evening or having dinner. 

That being said obviously your social networks in real life mold into a rag tab connected network of friends online. I have several groups I’m in with different groups of friends with different identities and ideas. Groups to share certain kinds of much for example, but also groups between me and just one other friend so we can work on projects when the other in available to listen right away, all most using facebook as a postbin.

 I think this is where my online networks differ from most of the others. I hate facebook but recognize it’s value in a variety of tasks. Many people seem to branch out and embrace these new and special ways of working online, I’m hesitant. Another system another website another email is just one more thing you can forget about and cause you hassle in the long run.  Also as illustrated clearly by the hangouts: could be the best system in the world but it’ still takes far to long and is way to tedious to convince me to start ‘hanging out’ with others online. I do try new technologies I’m not blindly unaware that these tools like meeting notes have distinct advantages, but, I think I’d rather sit down as a physical team and work on a problem then collaborate online brokenly. 

Conor Thompson

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Community, Group 7
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: IDConorThompsonE

Week: 3 – All systems go

Making markets work for the poor

- Solidaridad Tag Line. 

So far so good. Progress is moving along nicely with our planning and research phase. Defining two distinct actions which needed to happen we divided tasked during one of our sessions end of last week. A group combing the annual report for unclear statements and things which needed further clarification on the communications side. The other group focuses on the questions directly for Maarten (the contact within the NGO). These questions aimed mostly at targeting the direct needs of the customer (NGO) and the challenges they face with the system. Our timeline for this week is to confer with Group 6 and see where our questions match up so we can do a combined meeting with the NGO. 

Furthermore this week, we are looking into our digital profiles and the specific fluencies and skills we have with online technology. Most relevant to our NGO’s problem would be my experience with communication networks and organization on large scales. Like most of my generation - our fluency in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ etc etc etc - is commonplace.

These social systems as great in that context, but they do have serious flaws in a business context: mainly security. It would be hard to believe that most - if not all people - have at least a basic grasp of how to use these sites now, since user-friendliness has become very important in the last several years. Other technologies which i have experience with would be virtual video communications such as Skype and FaceTime (and now Google Hangouts!). Also collaborative online programs such as Prezi and GoogleDocs i have frequently used in the past. I have used Prezi since it was first released so I am more then happy to share with anyone the tips and tricks. 

Not typically online tools (but extremely effective in combination with online tools), but I also do have a large range of experience with all forms of creative softwares. InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, Sketch-Up Pro, Auto-Cad, and also VisSim (a physics based testing program). All of these skills would be easily teachable to anyone interested in them! It never hurts having something that looks good and just doesn’t function as a simple visual aid. Thing which look nice will gain more attention inherently which is why i think it is important for designers to not just be able to quickly sketch by hand, but to also be able to design and create graphs and illustrations quickly too.

I guess thats about it for this week. Hopefully will get in contact with our NGO finally and start getting the answers we need to punch forward with this assignment and as far as our NGO’s unmet need goes, I think it’s important to get a proper understanding of the Druppal system, which is why this week I will be working more and more on understanding not just what it is but how it works and how we can use and improve on it. 

- Conor Thompson 

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Community, Group 7
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: IDConorThompsonE

Group 7’s Spidergram & Explanation. Week 3 I thought a short…



Group 7's Spidergram & Explanation. Week 3

I thought a short explanation here would be more appropriate then in the Week 3 blog (keeping it shorter!). To explain our decision making you have to understand the initial demand of the client - which is what our week previous to this had been dedicated to - we have deemed this so far to be challenges related (but no exclusively) User Experience Issues, and Usability. Also when sharing large amount of content worldwide - on hundreds of different topics - you must filter and have some Context to the information being shared. As Soildidad has a more de-centralized structure with a focus on regional outfits being more self contained, it is important that Regional Communications across the world are adapted and suitable to the infrastructure and environment. Therefore, as our NGO principals lay firmly with Sustainability, this is a key factor in the design and implementation of any system. World world communication systems don’t run on air. Which is why we are considering a variety of way of reducing the resources required while not sacrificing functionality. Efficiency is important, and as all Content shared is created by the users - and not the designers - it is not a variable we can control, only plan ahead for with good design and proper Collaboration systems in place.

Group 7,

Conor Thompson 

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Community, Group 7
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: IDConorThompsonE

Sunday Morning..

Sunday Morning..:

Says enough :D

Tagged with:
Posted in Community, Group 7
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: IDConorThompsonE

Testing Testing, Week 2.

Making markets work for the poor

- Solidaridad Tag Line. 

Project communities started day one week one. Very interesting to be grouped and given a real NGO to work with - contact information and all - and a complex problem to go with it. 

Our NGO is the Soildaridad Network, they promote and invest in two major sectors: mining and production, and the agricultural sector. Their main focus is to create and more sustainable way of producing goods and farming land. The end goal for the agricultural projects are to create sustainable production chain worldwide by 2050. In the mining and production industries, responsibility is key in improving not just the environmental impact, but also workers rights and and safety (as in some countries it is very dangerous to work in reality because of the lower safety standards.)

This project really intrigued our group, we jumped right in and started devising tasks and questions, and decided to learn fully about not just Soildaridad network but also the intranet system (Druppal) before we start designing a solution to todays problems. In our group we have not only a huge variety of cultures, but also in experience and expertise. We have people heavily invested in renewable energies and sustainability already so in this respect we have a head start in understanding the goals and problems Soildaridad faces. 

One of the most intriguing things about this project (especially for myself) is the actual geographical impact on communications. Soildaridad has a vast network spanning the globe, and many of these regional posts are in isolated environments with drastically different infrastructures. Our ultimate goal is create (using Druppal) a way to not just communicate, but share ideas, information, and perhaps most importantly, plan and track events and regional actions undertaken by the Solidaridad worldwide.

To finish up, I believe this project will not just give us experience in NGO’s and their relationships to the world, how they can impact the world we live in, but also gives us fundamental experience in business and professionalism. 

Over and out, 

Conor Thompson.

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Community, Group 7
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: IDConorThompsonE