This course made me reflect about the relationships between the elements involved in the system of the online communities for innovation. I specified "for innovation" because the goal changes the structure of our web constructions. Let me explain this better;
Online communities are generally a subjective system (this is also important, each person has a different online community) created by an individual and a bunch of weird people floating in the air. I know it is a creepy description but it works. Well, I can interact with these people through different means: social networks, blogs, wikipedia, crowdfunding websites, etc… nothing difficult here. Now, think to this structure, it misses something. It’s the goal. Without a goal it is pointless to use it! Different goals will change the shape of the community involved. If I am feeling alone and I want to find new friends I will use different networks to reach a selected number of floating people (I am alone, not desperate) and then I will change the relationship into a face-to-face one. On the other hand if I want to chat with a friend I just need to reach her/him and communicate (or her/his mother, father, sister, dog if she/he is not answering.. No, I am not desperate).
Now, let’s change this goal with a "design goal". Our project is a perfect example. Yes, I have a NGO but I can just take its purpose and translate it as my goal, it will make things quicker. Well let’s analyse what I learned about this love triangle: me, the online community and the project/purpose.
First, very important part is the need. Floating people have to express a need that could involve my project, my service. There are two different ways to approach this element. You can “feel the need” and design a solution or, and that’s our case, create/adapt the need to your project.
That could sound deceitful, but it is not (if it is not done by Apple). Look at our NGO, few people really think a Tiny House Community is a solution to a need, however the space on this world is decreasing and we are overusing our resources and that’s a problem, that’s a need. Money is also decreasing and we are living over our possibilities, that’s a problem too! "Creating the need" means to make these people aware that there is a different way of living!
To study the need we can use our marketing strategies. I love the Purple Goldfish Strategy (not only because of its name). It is all about what can you give that others can’t. In an ocean of red goldfish ( or orange or yellow, that’s the colour anyway!) what makes you “purple”? Merging it with the need you get something to make your difference even more powerful! Indeed if you have something the others don’t and it is something that people really need (or think they need or discover they need) you have a huge potential.
This is the base of every interaction me-community, without it everything becomes useless, it is the crowdsourcing part of our course. Unfortunately we don’t live in a world where investors just knock at your door (or if they do they do it when you are in the bathroom), people won’t help you in your project if they don’t know it. Here we have many different way to make people aware. I continue to say that Twitter is one of the best one, but also Youtube (why not? Make a video and spread it through Twitter, Facebook, etc..). You could also think to more traditional tools. Why don’t use the “creative guerrilla strategy”? It’s a old (but not that old) marketing strategy that involves strong graphic works. In these works there is something that excites your curiosity (the color, a shape, a huge written like “BOOBS” or “SEX"(you see it worked?)), then if you look at them closer you will find all the informations or a message with a website, etc… It is a manual thing but you can use stickers with this kind of messages and spread them around, in a zone or a city easily and it’s very enjoyable to create these kind of graphic works. Returning to web awareness system we also chose to create events for our NGO, to make people understand that these tiny houses are very cozy and clean, not like in TV shows! In this case, probably Facebook is the best events spreading system.
Example of Guerrilla style campaign by Benetton (that in the meanwhile is exploiting chinese children to make clothes. Here it is another important thing for a project, consistency)
Financing is an action that you (aware) community does with your project. An important rule in this topic is “nothing is for nothing”. You have always to remember that people don’t give money for free, you have to give them something. On the other hand you have to give them something that doesn’t make you lose money, it could seem obvious but it is not. Fundraising is something precise, you should fix a goal, a number, you starting money, what can you offer, its cost… It is complicated, you have to be very careful when you organise a fundraising campaign and collect/use numerical data and measurements for it if you want to earn money. I have already talked about many other details in crowdfunding/microfinancing in my previous post. I actually didn’t know anything about it before I did this course (really, I was thinking to bag-snatches as fundraising tool before that) so, I think this is a great achievement!
It could happen that you have an idea but you can’t do it by yourself. Let’s think about a videogame, maybe you have ideas about the story, the effects and you can draw 3D characters for it (you lucky girl/boy, I am not able to use Photoshop properly!) but you don’t know how to link the commands to movements, you have not any experience about computer programming! Well, here you can use again your online community! You can find partners that will help you in it. We learned how to manage a group in our course. For example for a videogame I would recommend you to work in group of three, so you can have a better control of the progress and, as Chris Corrigan said, you are more creative and that’s important for a videogame even if you lose “diversity” but, if you start with a clear idea of what you want to do you only need people who can help you in completing it (creativity). (I thought that a practical example would be the best way to express what I learned)
MAKE IT BETTER (BETTER, BETTER, BETTER…ok it is not about Beatles)
This is something I would like to explore. It is about those networks created to share a design idea and to use gathered feedback to make it better. It would be anyway a personal creation because the “deep style” is characteristic of the designer, but functions and shapes are modified by other future users or designers. Many web design competitions work like that, involving the customer/user in the creation of the final object. However the customer/user will give some tips but is the designer that has to translate them in a visual form. It could be very interesting to understand how to use it in the future to create a sort of “crowdesigning" and anyway, it is very challenging. I think that the best way to learn it is to participate or look to design competitions and analyse reactions to each work to understand if they could be valuable in the final elaboration. I would also like to see on the web if someone has already created something like that (we are in 2014, when you create something it is already created… except an easy way to go to gym).
Well, this course taught me all these things above about managing a project in an online environment and dealing with online communities. Obviously these are terribly important in our future, people are digitalising their lives (take a train and look around you, how many people do you see with the mobile in their hands? Probably a lot), if we will be able to meet those people on the web and to understand their needs and their thoughts we will be able to create new products that will totally change the world. Old ways of designing are slowly fading away except the strongest ones (that’s why i mentioned guerrilla). We have to find a new space to extend our networks and to link ourselves. The web gives us the possibility to do it remembering to not exaggerate using it. Our lives are here in the real world, not with floating people :) Well, stay connected for next post! I think I added enough pictures on this post, moreover I have in my mind an artistic representation of a floating person but I don’t remember the artist or the name, do you have some idea? See you next time!! :)