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: Thoughts by Julian

Wow, time goes fast.

Wow, time goes fast.

So what do I think is the most important thing about the use of online communities in the design process ? I think since the Internet and its media changed the way to be together it also fundamentally changed the way designers can be together with their clients or future clients and interact with them. Recent insights - also from the introduction week (thanks Gustaaf) - have shown me that designing is always about creating something for the customer, the people. It’s about them. So connecting to them via online communities and networks seems to be a smart and plausible thing to do. Forums in which customers discuss with other customers is I think a great source of valid feedback, it is mostly honest. Tesla Motors the successful automaker “startup” has a special “Enthusiasts” tab on their website with a forum and other things.

Online communities should be easy to use and accessible to everybody. And there is no online community without a relevant topic to talk, discuss, think about. A good online community is a social one where people care together about a certain relevant topic.  

To all the ones who will attend this course I would say it’s all learning by doing, what you put in to it is what you get out. Thats what we have been told in the beginning and I found that to be true. I think I didn’t put enough into it. In parts it’s a simulation of your later way of working and it will teach you valuable things about people, teams, procrastination and others.

This is the beginning so don’t be afraid to fail, we’ll fix it later. But more important don’t be afraid to succeed greatly. 

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Our “client” the Gogorobí Foundation assigned us to find solutions to their funding needs as well as network expansion. In my opinion the latter point can be split in two. Network expansion within the foundation and external supporters which do not participate in the work but give support by donating, spreading the word and enjoying their work. So basically employes and consumers. So far every theme could be of use to address these issues. The use of crowdsourcing and especially crowdfunding seems to be the best ways though.

An argument in support of this approach is that a big crowd of people can make a bigger change than just a few people and the  internet gives us the opportunity to tap this crowd very precisely. Volunteers from all over the world could be found to help the foundation do all the PR for example or give support with organizing, managing.

If enough people are convinced by the idea they will be willing to donate. Crowdfunding used right is a great way to reach a big chunk of the right target group.

Making this crowdfunding campaign viral would be the ultimate goal of course and would reach a lot of people, but even without it being viral there is a good chance that it would reach people that want to participate in the foundations work as well and build up community that way. 

I think its really important to have our video with the advice as precise as possible just to make the impression that it is a plan that is thought trough. 

My final solution would roughly look like this: First step for Sheila would be to find some volunteers online that would like to help her with creating media like a killer website, a crowdfunding campaign video and material. She should choose one project that she wants to do and try to market that. Start a crowdfunding campaign for this one planned project while expanding the local community by reaching out to the next target group: cultural interested tourists through travel agencies and tourist offices. 

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Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding are great ways to help especially independent designers these days….

Crowdsourcing and crowdfunding are great ways to help especially independent designers these days. Everybody with an ambition, a dream, an idea could step into the world via their computer screen, find people that share their passion and have complementary skills and design something great together. And with the trending crowdsourcing platforms they can bring those ideas to life by using the people that also share their beliefs for their created product and are willing to spend some money to challenge the big players in the industry. 

Crowdsourcing used in the way of using human resources I think is the biggest collaboration system of the internet age. We learned that collaboration is of such importance when designing because ideas can spark other ideas that eventually lead to something greater than ever imagined could be done by a single genius. Unfortunately I don’t see the everyday person collaborating, I think because there is not the awareness out there of all the benefits it could bring to society and because of the lack of applications that make collaboration easy for the everybody. Thats just an itch. 

This week we also learned that crowdsourcing at use to look for funding can be used to build a community around the thing/cause/event at the same time. This way people who are interested could get on board, support the designers with ideas and feedback and make it an ever better result. 

What I am critical about crowdsourcing is the question wether the access to the crowd should be free of costs or not. We discovered a lot of services that act as agents for cheap “virtual labor”. I think that is a great business opportunity for the freelance sector, but could it turn all of human online interaction into something you have to pay for ?

One more thing (that is more or less unrelated). Last week I was enlightened when I saw my superhero Elon Musk alias Ironman talking at Stanford (min. 22:00) about the idea of the internet being like nervous system. This nervous system makes it possible to access all information of humanity everywhere and create a “super-organism” or “human-machine-collective-intelligence” as he describes it. That reminded me a bit of crowdsourcing, I think it is start of building this nervous system or maybe an even more active version of that.

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This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Thoughts by Julian

The question, why we have the theme “Groupwork” after we already worked in groups for…

The question, why we have the theme “Groupwork” after we already worked in groups for actually 4 weeks, did not really come up because it was answered right away by Meggie in the lesson yesterday. The plan was to make the experience first by throwing us in at the deep end and then look at what we have done. That I guess is a part of the process of reflecting. So what did our group do ?

At the beginning of course we had no plan so it was really unstructured. By now we realized that working on something specific with 8 people is not possible. We have build task groups for that twice now and that was good. We created “edges” as we heard in this weeks video by Chris. And then we brought those edges together in our meetings. It is possible to have these with eight people if someone presides over them and everybody listens to each other and only one person speaks at a time. We experienced that, I think it went pretty well but there is still some room of improvements in the way that some people should let other people finish before they start talking. So to sum up this concept, I assume I have discovered, it is about creating edges by breaking up tasks and give them to smaller groups and then bring it back together in the meeting, have some discussion there, bring everybody up to date and then start the process over again. 

What also occurred as a problem was that there were different assumptions about the actual tasks and it was quite difficult to get everybody to understand it the right way. There is a lot of discussion about the actual tasks involved. But I think it is crucial that everyone knows exactly what he or she has to do and to work on. This way you prevent that work is done without sense. 

As I mentioned earlier we realized that it is impossible to work creatively with eight people. Our task groups we created consisted of four by now and it worked out quite ok but I would like to try this odd numbers like three for some brainstorming sessions. 

One more thing. Nancy talked about having a way to track our progress/process visually. I really feel like I need that. I don’t know about my group yet but in the past weeks I had those times when I wanted to jump up and draw some sort of rough project schedule on the whiteboard.  Maybe that will help us all to work towards our goals with more clarity. 

In the coming weeks I will try to really do and say what I often have in mind, what I think could help our group go on faster. I will try to leave my comfort zone. 

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Week 4 – The Network or whatever

This week was about crowdsourcing and online social structures.

The term social refers to the interaction of organisms with other organisms and to their collective co-existence…” - def. by Wikipedia

So what online platforms and tools are there that enable us to interact with each other ? Yes, there are many of them but I am not really using a lot of them. I am using the IM service WhatsApp to almost exclusively to communicate with my friends in defined groups. It is nice because although it is an online tool you know that what you write, which can be a lot of nonsense, is only received by known recipients (and the NSA of course). You can have discussions about everything and really think about stupid things which then sometimes turn into inspirations for something else.

Facebook is another tool I am using, but as I stated in my last blog post, I do not post very much, I simply don’t like to share. Here I am really an observer of my news feed which can be really interesting sometimes if you read an open discussion friends have in the comment section. 

Instagram is another type of social media I like because you don’t really have to write much to share an experience or an event of your life you simply take a nice picture that preferably tells a little story it self and then you can make it nice to look at only by the tap of a finger. 

A good example how ideas and information are crowdsourced and harvested by individuals are forums. For my part I am of course the harvester and I’m still asking me who are those people that are active in those forums and answer so many questions. What is their benefit other than helping others ? It is for sure a really nice way to find information about really specific topics but the danger of wrong information is always present in those kinds of networks. 

To sum it up, I prefer to stay in a smaller concentrated group online because I feel more comfortable - it’s the same offline. 

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Project Management, Digital Identity and Tech Stewardship

Project Management

I would like to start this weeks blog post with a reflection of our work as a team last week and this just passed monday. I will keep and short now and just say that in my opinion we have been very unproductive in our work. So why was that ? I think it was because of the lack of goals, clear team roles, absence of a coordinator (because no one wants to do it actually) and the fact that we tried to work on one assignment with all of our eight people. This monday we still worked together without clear roles because we did not have the time to get this straightened since we were kind of overwhelmed with all the information and other assignments that was coming in and was given from the teachers. Lessons learned: We need to schedule a meeting outside the course and build a strong working team. Yes, we are quite late with building a functioning team but better late then never. If you look at Tuckman’ stages of group development, that our tutor posted in our facebook group after she was concerned about our team development, that we truly stuck in the first storming phase that is defined by unclarity of purpose, lack of leadership. The theory also states that some groups don’t exceed this stage but since we know that now I think that at our meeting tomorrow that we already scheduled outside the course (Success!) we can move to at least stage two the norming stage.

Another good source I just peeked into by now is the book we all should have “Project Management - A Practical Approach”. Just by having a look at the table of contents and then skimming through some pages I got an idea of how to go on with the work more productively.

Digital Identity

What is out there on the web of me ? Probably a lot but I believe to have a pretty good picture of what there is on the web about me. For some years now I am not really a “poster” on facebook anymore rather a consumer. I don’t really know why but maybe because I used to go with the trend on twitter and post everything I did - kind of stupid I know now. Yes I know that these post can not really be erased and I am aware of that and I go with it because I believe society will change because of these technologies that make it more and more impossible to protect private data or data at all. I’d rather think of all the advances that these tools deliver. 

My picture of what online technologies I know and might be useful to support our NGO is still a bit vague. But I do know about sites like Kickstarter, Vimeo, Youtube. They are all good for marketing something. And now that we have to manage a project I get to explore some more that are interesting to have look at. Tools like Dropbox or Google Docs turn out to be good tools for distributed design teams to share content. 

And that is what I’d like to develop during next weeks, collaboration and exchange of expertise with other groups. Of course I want to know what they know but I am wiling to share my little expertise and help with them.

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Getting started, organizing oneself and the team

Confusion is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about yesterdays first “Project Community” class. There was so much happening at once when we had a Google Hangout with Nancy and Alan that It was quite hard to follow because I’t wasn’t clear yet what the course is really about in detail. Additionally to that there was the problem that the internet of some group members devices (such as mine) didn’t work so we couldn’t really get into Meetingnotes to participate. Other problems and confusions evolved when I tried to get on blackboard and I wasn’t enrolled in any course. But by asking the right questions to helpful team members I figured it all out. Now having read the course manual later I understand that this might was a task by itself because it says “orient to the basic school technology” in the description of the first lesson.

Speaking of reading the Manual, this helped me to turn the confusion more into confusiasm. I now understand the course to be more than just teaching us about what NGO’s, networks, and communities do and how they are good for us but a first practice how we work together in teams using all this new technology (Meetingwords, Google Hangout…) effectively.

I expect to learn how to use these technologies to create this network of ideas to come up with one great idea in the end that could help our foundation

Since I did some video editing in the past I would like to use this to brush up and improve those skills. 

Some last words

I think it’s really cool that we have given the opportunity to work for a “real world” foundation. If I think about the fact that only two weeks ago I’ve been desperately looking for a room here in The Hague and now I have the chance to help a little foundation somewhere far away by coming up with a great idea together with my group…for me that is pure motivation and somehow living the dream already.

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