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.

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I work with floating people

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;

THE GOAL

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.

               

THE NEED

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.

THE AWARENESS

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)

THE FINANCING

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!

THE GROUP

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).

      

  

WHAT ELSE?

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!! :)

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Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: A road to the plain

(Don’t) Look back (in anger)

We are almost there, that’s the seventh week and the project is going to end. It’s difficult to have a resume of what I learned without having a resume of what I and we did and what I felt. That’s why my blog post will be about the whole path during this course and it will be pretty serious (at least I will try to do my best) and not whimsical (discovered new word, I don’t know if it is right, english dictionaries are generic) and funny as usual. I promise I will do a comedy-style post with the last one.

THE SUBJECTIVITY OF FEELINGS

That’s the first point, it is about the link between us, our NGOs and our four themes, a link expressed often as “confusiastic”. It is a general idea that tries to define a feeling that should occur in our progress, however it is very difficult to accept it. In fact the themes can provide different reactions in different people. Somebody can be very sure and enthusiastic about crowdsourcing and confused about work teams, somebody else can be very interested in marketing and doubtful about crowdfunding. What I am trying to say is that is not possible to define with one only word the whole course and all the topics. That’s a first lesson about media and network technologies and knowledge, they are different, deeply different and the common mean (the computer) is not enough to link them in their complexity.

Now, things are becoming more difficult. I think that some themes with some NGOs can cause fear, anger and confusion, not confusiasm. Let me explain it better with our (group 1) example: our NGO is difficultly reachable by an effective crowdfunding campaign. People involved are not “rich” and it is tough to make people donate because you can’t give back something with crowdfunding average donations. On the other hand you can give back something really “tiny” but donations would be too small to reach their goal. They want to build a stable and enduring community so they need a continuous amount of money. Now the theme “crowdfunding” was narrow for us, we needed to enlarge our horizon, our view and we needed to include big companies in our project. However that is not anymore crowdfunding as intended in the theme, we explored “microventure” and startups world. It wasn’t a real problem but it was obviously difficult to understand the exclusivity of that topic. That’s why I think that a theme as “fundraising" could fit the course better. You can include in it crowdfunding but not as only option.

A DACHSHUND THAT PRETENDS TO BE A ROTTWEILER

Big danger in marketing zone. Three strategies: value proposition (ok!), purple goldfish (great, I love this one) and “what can we learn from Cocacola” (and here is the problem). Even if the example of Cocacola could be, reflecting a lot on it and stretching it, useful there is fundamental contradiction (and I think that’s why in group 1 nobody choosed it). That’s something really similar to philosophical disprove; even if you could use it in NGOs (and it is difficult) the big problem is that we are trying basically to compare a HUGE multinational company with a small, local NGO. It is a big generalisation in terms of dimensions and goals, are we sure that we can do this step (even if Melinda Gates says that is possible) and are we sure that there are not strategies that can be more suitable for our NGOs?Moreover watching at the video of Melinda Gates I think that it wouldn’t work;

1- Many NGOs are acting with single events, single initiatives. That makes completely impossible the real time data. Cocacola is continuing to sell bottles every day, they can have precise data and know the flexions of their market. For a NGO is more realistic to collect and analyse data at the end of an event but that is completely different.

2- Local entrepreneurial talent. That’s just obvious, many NGOs (as Tiny Houses) are local. Dealing with local entrepreneurial market is the first thing you have to do.

3- Marketing. Sure, saying it so generally it seems right but can we really compare the marketing actions of a NGO with marketing actions of Cocacola? I hope no! That would spoil NGO goals and existences.

On the other hand the Purple Goldfish Strategy is kinder, is more general, from the small store to, why not, a NGO! I hope that you understand what I mean, we need more adaptable strategies like this one, not the ones tested only by big companies. Here is another important lesson, adaptability over big results. They are obviously welcome but adaptability will allow you to create networks and systems that can be used by more people and help them in a proper way.

DIFFERENT MEANS DIFFERENT USE

Now we can introduce another important lesson about all your work. There is a specific mean for each work you have to do. Passing through the complexity of social media you will have to recognise the useful tools from the fancy but useless stuff (*cough!*… facebook hashtags… *cough!*).

FUTURE STEPS

Now, what I would like to learn more? I would like to deepen my knowledge about fundraising, about startups creation and the ways to start your own business. Also, I would be very interested in the world of online design contests and related community valuation of projects. 

Anyway, now we are finishing our lessons and, even if I gave just some advice about what, in my opinion, was too confused and less enthusiastic, I am happy about this course. It helped us to know how to contact and to deal with a client and we started to understand how are groups working, these are probably the main results and I think that are the best results we could have. 

Well guys, see you next week, stay connected for the last post for Project Community! Bye bye! :)

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Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: A road to the plain

‘Middle’

"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." , Henry Ford

Middle. Middle of the module, middle of the process, middle of our team relationship. The start was ok, full of emotions and confusions but than things changed week by week, day by day. We created a pace. What really means creating a pace? We defined a group personality (based on the decisions we made ). This is what I thought this week about. When I noticed how the ideas blend with our involvement, I realized that a group is like a human being. You can’t be you without an eye or an arm, or even more you can’t survive without your heart. Without your emotions,feeling,wishes you are almost death.

All my life I was an individualist, I was raised in this kind of environment. For example, this is why the first week was on the sign of confusion. Us, as a team were kind of distracted, cold with each other, we were feeling uncomfortable. Strange that when you create a team the first step is to delegate the tasks. In my opinion, after spending time with my team, the most important thing is having clear and logical objectives. We were full of questions about what PAGE is, what do we need in the end, why we do this? We figured it out about our goal and skipped to the next step.

Delegating tasks. It was great that we highlight our skills, so we can support the group. It is very hard to think about what are you good at when you are in a team, with people you don’t know. You don’t know how good they are at the same skills as you.

Then we explode as a team. Everyone had an idea, we came with outside sources, we wanted to move the mountains in one week, which was great because we were full of enthusiasm and initiative. What we forgot? We forgot to organize. The good part though was that we realized this and took action. We wrote everything on paper and thanks to Emilie we have a very, very organized plan, that will help us in the future. We were really surprised when we saw that she sacrificed her time for the sake of the group, so we’ll return this back.

We are just six and it really worked for our team. Now we are organized, we know our goals and tasks, we have most of the solutions, we started with the real research, (because we decided to give to the girls facts not words) so we are in a straight line. I think the number of persons in a team depends on the purpose. How big it is? How many people do we need to succeed? Organization is the key to this. For instance, I found a picture about ways of organizing a team; you can read more on this link: http://emergentbydesign.com/2010/07/01/guidelines-for-group-collaboration-and-emergence/ 

Which one appeals to your group most? Mine is kind of an open type, but there are situations when we really synchronize.

image

We still have time to make the atmosphere more informal,because we lack on this, but this is the start. Actually, I am impressed with my personal development in such a short time. From a totally individualist person, I found it good now to work in a team. 

This was my experience so far in this team. You can learn too from my story. I can’t wait to learn from yours!

P.S I highlighted for you some things that I feel are compatible with a teamwork.

Click on the picture (at least it works on my blog), if you want to see the cutest animation ever about teamwork!!!

image

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Posted in Community, Group 7, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Laura Lezeu (Project Community 2014)

A democratic expression for small communities

I started this reflection with several perplexities. If you think to our NGO it is difficult to define a team who could fairly lead it. We are talking about a different kind of organisation, an organisation that wants to build a real community, a group of people who is going to live together. How can we imagine a fair leader group if we do not involve the whole community in the common choices and more important how can we take advantage of the small size of this community to create a new decision-making model? We have here a great opportunity to create a harmonised society able to deal quickly with difficult situations.

THE TEAM

First, we need to think to what the community needs, to the personalities who are going to operate in some topics to manage the challenged they will face.

The technician: Stone Age is gone and we need someone who can take care of our Wi-Fi, our TV’s, our electric system. It can be a prototype of the technology stewart, but just in the most technical sense.

The Head of facilities: the pool won’t dig itself, we need someone who could manage and create facilities like the bar, the pool, the reception, etc.. Don’t worry, he won’t start to dig the pool, he will call and contact someone who can build it.

The communicator: someone who is able to communicate with administrations, government, city hall, people, etc.. He will think about flyers, participation at events outside the community and he will fix the community’s meetings. He is another kind of technology stewart (it seems I am writing about incarnations of Buddha). He should be extrovert, don’t send to the city hall someone who can’t speak because is too shy, it could be a disaster.

The events organiser: someone who doesn’t suffer from heart attacks, this is the most stressful role. He has to think and to set up events inside the community, the camp, the Easter egg hunt (you thought I’d forgotten it? No, if the White House organises it we will do it too), etc..

The Treasurer: the killjoy, someone who will remember the others that the money is limited. The grey, cold and annoying character, the Angela Merkel of our NGO.

The Judge: diplomatic, handsome, kind and reasonable. This role will help members of the community to solve disputes in the most fair way possible, he will check that everybody is respecting laws.

The Leader: obvious, the frontman, he will manage all the other roles, he will give suggestions in every topic and he decides what is truly needed and what is not. 

We have our great team who will manage the community, now second problem: how to make it fair? How to make it democratic? We are talking about people’s lives, houses (even if tiny), we have to create a mechanism with which they can deal if they want to express their opinion.

A DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM

Democratic governments around the world can be a model (as long as the model is not the italian one). Let’s start to think to our team as a government, we have different ministers and we have prime minister. Now let’s create a parliament, the community itself, a perfect, direct and total assembly that will express the needs and the ideas of each member. Here is our decision-making system! The “team” will propose idea to the assembly and the assembly will vote.

Last thing, we need an election system, something that will help us to create a “team”. I propose a simple one. We have candidate teams, we an election day, the assembly votes and we have a new leading team! (I won’t make a drawing of this one, come on!)

APPROVED … DONE!

There is still a small step missing. How can our ministers do what they have to do? I mean, if we want to build this famous pool we need another team that can work on this pool. We can’t suppose that one person can do it all! Well, thinking about the number of people in a team I do agree with Chris Corrigan, smaller teams (2-3 people) are more creative. While our assembly approved something we need a team that can decide how to do it. Do we want a heart-shaped pool? A star-shaped? A normal one? (Yes, build a normal one, it is better). So let’s think to a team of 3 people, one of them is the “minister” and two of them are members of the assembly. It would be a temporary team, created to build the pool and the pool only.

As you can see, with a right set of rules this model can be very fast, perfect to make fair and quick decisions and to represent the community, to protect it and to improve it. With that our NGO will be able to create a great and functioning reality, where people can represent themselves and share beliefs and impressions in an assembly. They will be able to decide and to change the concept of their small society making it suits better to their ideas.

TEAM 1 WORK SYSTEM

Changing topic we can talk about my work group. Well, this will be a lot faster and shorter than the first one, don’t worry. Our team is completely different from the NGO-democratic model, we are just seven people and we created a “hourglass system”. At first, we have several topics, we research about them in group of one. Then, with a meeting we resume and share what we know, the group will be a filter that will translate and change with the others’ individual experiences the informations. After that we can decide what to do, how to proceed, what to check as a group. When we are in the “operative” phase we can split again in small group (1-2 people) to work and technically complete parts of our task (one can make the video, the other one the report, etc..) in the best, precise and fastest way and we will put everything together with the experience of the whole group in it.

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Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: A road to the plain

Shouting as loud as you can

There is not a big difference between the real interactions and those of the web. You can find big similarities in the way you talk with other people in the world and our “Me, We, Networks” model. While in your life you can modulate the tone of your voice in the internet environment you can change network, while you can choose where and in which geographical and social context you can speak in the internet environment you change your community and your tools to define the audience (my loved and passionate relationship with hashtags is an example). Let me explain this better.

We can imagine our web uses and informations sharing as a normal dialogue in real life: we can whisper with one person because we are talking behind someone’s back (do not do the “goody-goody”, I know you did it about that annoying and overwhelming person that continues to bother you each single day in your existence), we can mumble loudly alone and if someone else hears us even better or we can take a soap box and start a tirade on the deviant costumes of our years (that was the favourite way of latin people but, be careful, Cicero was beheaded).

Our model follows this sequence, “me" is when we put online informations  without a direct reader (or listener, it depends on your network) but we know that we can be "read" by someone or we don’t really matter. That can be a good way to reflect, writing let us organise our ideas and let us remember them because they are saved on the web, on the other hand people can anyway help us, answering to our posts even if that is not really needed.

We" is built with all the interactions we make with people we know or that is working with us. It is like speaking with a person we know but nobody else is supposed to hear us. It is about organisation of activities, sharing infos or feelings we don’t want to give to others (or we don’t need to) or building relationships. It is a weird mix of works and feelings but that is probably the weird nature of the “human groups”.

The Network is completely different, it is not about human individual nature like the previous two, it is about the human behavior and how we can as individuals affect it. With networks we share ideas, we share thoughts and we want that everyone knows them, we want that people agree with us or give us suggestions to improve our ideas, to make them stronger. An ideal network would be able to build a common human idea by sharing and modifying a previous one. Obviously that is not possible, the essence of the mankind is the man, the individual, the one and her/his different values, we can link people with same values but we can’t create a unique common values set able to regulate our whole knowledge, we can’t create a unique common consciousness (the ones who tried to actually developed the worst errors in our history).

The tools of me, we and network can be similar, however the use and the usefulness can provide a grade for each tool in each “category" (that’s a good way to define them). Let me make an example, Facebook’s notes are a good way to reflect as "me" but Tumblr will let me store all my thoughts in  one page and people that share my same interests can help me to improve my reflections.

On the other hand Facebook is the best and the fastest mean for the “group” category, I can easily share everything with a limited group of people, or with one people through the chat, I don’t think there is a better way to quickly share our status to our whole friends.

However Facebook is terrible as a network, I can make people know my ideals with FB, the hashtags system is something still unknown even if now I can use them (that is really stupid considered the normal privacy settings we have). Facebook gather too many private informations, they can’t be shared by reasonable people. Twitter, I will repeat it till my death, Twitter is the best way to share infos to a huge audience.

That can be broaden using hashtags (specialists audience uses hashtags to immediately see what they need). I mean, every category can be broaden using hashtags, even the “me” (but not Facebook, I tried to use them, they don’t work, it is just weird!!!). Tumblr can easily switch from “me” to network using these and other systems.

Our NGO in particular should shift from the exclusive use of Facebook to the use of real network’s means: Twitter, Tumblr with pictures and a personal regional website! Participating at events around Florida with flyers for example is a good “real way” to increase awareness! Let’s leave FB for group meetings and internal, private stuff!

Now, I have a lot more to say and to tell but I think my teachers wouldn’t appreciate, probably they are feeling really sleepy at the moment so, it is better to stop here. Stay connected and wait for the next post if this one didn’t bore you to death! Bye!

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Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: A road to the plain

Project communities 1: We will do it

This is my first post about the course "Project communities" at De Haagse Hogeschool. Well, at first sight it was shocking, looking at the preparatory documents they sent us I just saw tons of different instructions about everything in various pdf’s. I tried to absorb as much informations as possible with poor results, then I just thought “Enough! I will see tomorrow what is all this about”; definitively a good idea.

Today I just had to get over the daily “find-your-classroom” desperation and I finally was able to understand the purpose of the course: to learn to use technology, to learn more about crowdfunding, to learn to interact with a NGO, to learn to work in a group, etc.. While I was grasping the meaning of all this stuff I started to think about what I have to do, what I will have to do and what have I done!

However we had our NGO and the first group work solved many problems. The NGO is “Tiny houses enthusiasts” and in the group each one has now his own role, each one expressed his ideas and we had a productive time, I think we will do it! I am the team leader, a worried team leader but I will manage to coordinate my group. The topic is not simple and we are still struggling to define what we want and what we think about it but probably the first call with the NGO and our next meetings will solve many questions.

Now, after this short story about the fear and confusion turning into determination (and courage maybe?), let’s talk about my expectations.This is the hardest part, what I expect from this course? Well I thought about it:  I want to deeply understand how to interact with organisations, to know how to get the informations I need to work and I expect to learn how to lead a team in the best way.

It’s a lot of stuff, isn’t it? However, I repeat, I am sure we can do it (me and my team) and we will.

Now it’s dinner time and I am hungry, see you everybody! Don’t miss the next post and "buon appetito"!

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Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: A road to the plain