NOTE: This is a full archive for the Project Community: You & The World (2014) please see the main site for the most up to date information.

All Posts Published at: Nancy White

Reflecting on Our Team Hangouts and Skype Calls: What has changed in week 5?

I can’t tell you how much fun the ProjectCommunity team calls have been for me this year. I hope they are somehow useful and enjoyable to you, the learners. So hold that thought because I’m going to ask you about that at the end of these quick reflections.

Here are the insights I think many teams are developing:

  • When you have many ideas, you have to prioritise and focus. I’ve starting asking teams about the criteria they are using to select their actual task for their client. We have been doing a lot of probing about value proposition — and for WHOM. Who is the target group of people? What do they want and need? How does that relate to the needs of their NGO clients?  IMG_7967
  • When you have a great idea, how and when do you know if it needs to be “let go?” On this morning’s call, that was a great insight from one team. They had a really terrific idea, but it might not yet be the right time to execute that idea. So they may have to defer it or even let it go. Hard, hard, hard!
  • For almost all of the projects, there is a need to address at least three areas (see picture to the right): The content involved, the social architecture, and the . KEY HINT TO GROUPS who share a client: these things need to work BETWEEN your offerings to your client, not in competition with each team!
  • The essence of Project Community is not how good one idea can be, but how the amplifying power of communities and networks can make that idea, that seed, grow into something bigger and valuable to the NGO client. The teams are just now starting to connect those dots. What is the network implication of their ideas? How can they grow and scale?
  • The challenge of bringing ideas to a client also requires looking at the resources, time, inclination of the client to execute those ideas. I think we need to consider or talk about how we evaluate the feasibility of an idea. Not just how clever it is. What are the cost/benefit implications for the client?
  • Finally, I have been asking most of the groups to stop, reflect  and capture what they are learning. What are you learning? What are the implications for you? For your client? Why? Why? If we wait and try and capture all of these at the end, very often we can’t pull them out. These reflections, however, are an important way to see if value has been created. Value for each learner. Value for the client. Capturing these things in some way now can also make them available later when the teams have to make their final video/product presentation. (Yes, make a short reflective video each week. Ask your clients if you can record a quick reflection of their insights each week. Use snippets in your final product? Drawings? Great, take a picture now. White board doodle? Capture it. A lot will be left “on the cutting room floor” but trying to remember and recreate these things at the end of the course? Awfully hard!

Ok, I promised a question back to all of you at the end. I actually have two and I would LOVE your answers in the comments.

  • What is working in our team meetings together? What can be improved?
  • What is the most interesting or useful insight YOU have had so far?

I look forward to your answers.

Posted in Community, Faculty

What does “real” mean?

I’m enjoying reading everyone’s blog posts this week, but one thing has me puzzled. People seem to categorize F2F interaction as ‘real.” Does that mean online interactions are “fake,” “unreal,” or what? I’m confused!

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by ▓▒░ TORLEY ░▒▓:

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by ▓▒░ TORLEY ░▒▓:

Posted in Faculty

Insight from a Past Project Community Person

BartI was tweeting with @BartHoekstra and lo and behold, he was willing to share some of his insights with the #projcomm14 team. So here it is, with a big thank to Bart!

Two years ago now, I was, just like you, taking part in Project Communities (#projcomm12 back then). Since then, I’ve quit the course and started studying Future Planet Studies at the University of Amsterdam. I found out I’m more of an academic interested in the systemic future challenges of our society than a designer trying to tackle specific issues through the power of designed interventions. Nevertheless, being a long-time Twitter ‘friend’ (we’re mutual followers) of Maarten I saw him favorite a tweet in which Nancy (whom I still follow as well) asked her followers to comment on your blog posts. Since I’m still interested in what Industrial Design Engineering students are doing, I decided to take a look.

Looking back at my Project Communities experience, I remember it being a very interesting project. I’m an avid user (and critic) of online communication and collaboration platforms, which is why you can literally find me everywhere online. Yet the project still made me think of new ways of using the kind of tools/platforms I used so often. I’m not entirely sure anymore of what exactly my project was about, but I remember working on something combining the principles/features of Ushahidi and OpenIdeo for charity:water.

Nancy linked to the ‘Pure Awesomeness in Dannyland’ blog page. One of the writer’s blogs mentions the importance of hearing and seeing people’s needs. Now that I’m not part of the project anymore, it becomes clear how hard it is for an outsider to have any idea of what it is exactly that you’re doing. (Heck, it’s quite possible that you don’t even know yourself.) I mentioned that to Nancy and she asked me to write a guest blog about that. As an outsider, I clearly have different needs that need to be fulfilled in order for me to respond. So here are my 2 cents (2 tips)

1. Ask specific questions

I think the internet is a great place for public discussion and collaboration. Although many comment sections are best left ignored (especially on bigger (news-related) websites or Youtube), personal and small-scale blogs are still great discussion platforms.

Depending on the goal of your blog post, you might want to receive feedback from others on what you have written. In my experience it’s very important that a blog therefore either addresses or poses a specific question or sparks a discussion through a bit of controversy. If that’s missing it becomes really hard for an outsider to comment on what you’ve written.

So I’d totally recommend to ask specific questions that you would like to discuss in the comment section of your blog posts. Doing so would make it much easier for others to participate. Especially to strangers that lowers the threshold to comment significantly. It’s remarkable how willing people are to help and voice their opinions about things when asked. A good example of that might be a question I posed during my Society and You project on Quora. It’s amazing to see how such a, perhaps seemingly trivial, question about food preparation can spark such elaborate replies.

2. Provide a clear and interesting title

When scanning the list of blog posts you’ve written, it occurred to me that many titles either are kind-of creative-y and hard to comprehend or — quite frankly — a little boring. Although to some it might sound either sophisticated or very interesting, I think it does not encourage a visitor to actually take a look, especially when that visitor is a stranger to you.

Again, it depends on the goal of your blog post, but I can imagine that you’d like as many people as possible to actually see and read what you’ve written. In my opinion good titles for blogs strike a balance between being overly clear and perhaps somewhat click-baity. In other words: somewhere in between what you’d read on the BBC website and Upworthy’s Facebook post. The first could be ‘Client reception of proposal’, the latter ‘These students spoke with their client and you’d never imagine their response’. Somewhere in a balanced middle would be ideal, I think.

So, my recommendation would be to find out what kind of a title works for you and the audience you (want to) write for. What would you click on yourself? Which posts seem to resonate the most with your audience and how could it be the title affects that?

Now, as a matter of good practice I have a question for you: What triggers you to comment on an article or blog you read? In case you never comment anywhere, why is that and what could change that?

Posted in Announcements, Community, Faculty

Copyrights and Permissions on Visuals and other Multimedia

closeupofdrawingIt has been wonderful to see some of you incorporate visuals into your blog posts, particularly when they help add context, meaning or describe something. I thought it might be good to share some tips on how to source visual and other materials, and how to respect the ownership rights of those materials. I asked Alan for some suggestions, because he teaches a course called DS106 which is a well-spring of creativity and includes some wonderful examples of reuse and remix of existing materials. (DO check it out!) He suggested the Creative Common’s site as a primary reference. Creative Common is a place where you can learn about different alternatives to traditional copyright. I’d suggest EVERYONE take a look at this site. When it comes time to make your video’s at the end of the course, you will a) have the choice about what kind of license to put on your work (for example, everything on my blog is a Creative Commons Share Alike License. (b) If you use materials other than things you and your team have created, you have a choice about how you acknowledge the ownership of that material. One strategy is to mine the wealth of Creative Commons licensed materials and SKIP all together things with a copyright. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read the Creative Common’s site.

Here are Alan’s other recommendations:

This NZ video is good

I did a Mozilla Lesson plan on “ImageSeeking for Fantastic Visual Metaphors”; there’s a video there that while kid oriented, makes a decent case for CC (though I wish the messages were not wrapped in threats of breaking laws)

I keep a list of sources of open licensed media

By the way, the image I used here is my own. You can use it with a reference back to me!

Posted in Announcements, Faculty

Maarten’s Tips for NGO Partners

It is great that Maarten van Leeuwen is back on board as an NGO partner for Project Community. He was asking on Twitter about this year’s hashtag (which is #ProjComm14) and in return, I asked if he had any tips for new tutors. Here are his hints!


Posted in Faculty

Ready, set, GO!

I think I’m ready. I hope I’m ready. I’m strapping on my seatbelt because from what I saw from last week’s introductions, the Project Community group is energetic and ready to go. I’ve introduced myself in my video, but I thought I’d share a few things I’ve been working on.

Last week I did some sketchnoting at #SOCAP14, the social capital markets conference. I met a lot of people who are interested in designing things for a better world, and to develop business models that pay attention not just to profit, but the overall impact (positive and negative) of the company. This is sometimes called “triple bottom line.” In any case, here are a few of my sketchnotes. Sketching ideas can both be a thinking process, a “harvesting” process and a tool for sharing. As you meet your NGOs this week, you might consider taking some sketch notes and then sharing them with your team and your NGO contact. Then you can check to see if you heard well!  In the meantime, see you online!






Posted in Faculty