GOOD

Collaborate and the Solution Will Come: Our Public Design for Affection Workshop

ow do we create intelligent systems of designs that cut traditional barriers? In a world that is complex and multidimensional, multidimensional perspectives will better lend solutions to major challenges.

Picasso put it brilliantly when he said that if you "make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when the others make it after you."


How do we create intelligent systems of designs that cut traditional barriers? In a world that is complex and multidimensional, multidimensional perspectives will better lend solutions to major challenges. This idea has been wreaking havoc on my mind and led me to a recent experiment. The Public Design for Affection (or what I like to refer to as PDA) workshop was launched when I met Anish Sarma, a lead engineer at Speak Your Mind Foundation. Anish decided to take me up on my curiosity to bridge design-thinking with other sectors and let me play in the realm of science.

He posed the following challenge: “How should a system designed for a person with limited input look like? What should it be able to do?”

Challenge accepted.

With little time to prepare, we threw together a creative workshop at DSI with ten participants and players. The goal was simple: Come out to ideate, play, and experiment using design thinking methodologies with people from the health and science sectors, as well as diverse artists. What creative solutions might emerge for Anish and the foundation were unknown.

Using design thinking principles and activities, we charted our own course of innovation and let the magic unfold. A range of artists and non-artists with various backgrounds—from interactive designers to those in the health field—were taken through a series of design activities. They had never met before and yet immediately dove into work together, starting with an empathic approach.

We had the chance to hear one another’s deeper personal stories related to limited communication and then moved on to define their own creative solutions. We tested them and finally provided independent sketches on interesting new communication designs for users with verbal and physical communication barriers. Ideas were then cut and combined in teams until we whittled them down to two finals solutions.

And, indeed, magic did unfold.

Three hours into our design thinking, it was clear how much possibility there is to bring people together across sectors and spark the imagination in new ways. Innovative ideas were presented: two-way transparent mirrors, light indicators that portray a range of mental processes, teeth sensors and automated visuals. Then Anish announced he was excited to take these new gifts of knowledge and inspiration back to the Speak Your Mind team.

So, how does collaboration and creativity hold the key to facilitating multidimensional perspectives to the major problems we face today? For the nexus and future of education, environment, politics, government, science, and the arts, we need to consistently ask ourselves this question. Being an innovator does not always require creating new and wonderful things, but can be as simple as facilitating new interactions.

Want to help facilitate wonder? Do you like PDA or have a challenge you want to present? Have an interesting space you want to host PDA in? Contact me at robin[dot]erin[dot]newman[at]gmail[dot]com

Articles
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health