using your mobile to do something good

Last week I went to the first event held by Orange to mark the launch of their forthcoming initiative to promote mobile micro volunteering. I rocked up with the lovely Cassie Robinson knowing nothing about the idea or who was going to be there. The  50 people crowd wore stickers - developers sporting a blue sticker, people from orange an orange sticker and social entrepreneurs a green sticker. The aim of the evening was simply to 'meet in each other in person' - simple and true.

The force behind this new initiative is the merging of Orange and T mobile ; Everything Everywhere . They have more customers than the population of Canada! They certainly have the potential to harness this power to do something good!

Jamie T put together a good write up here and I was interviewed by the brill Brian Condon - you can listen on audioboo.

This new venture is encouraging people to make minutes matter, to do something from your phone that will take 5 minutes. It clearly presents new opportunities to work differently and it may highlight how much generosity there is in the world.

I suppose I am most interested in the balance of actions that can be done online and what can be done offline. Nevertheless, I am always interested in things that aim to liberate and inspire people so I will be watching closely.

p.s I was a big fan of the speakers wearing a red flower in their shirt pocket. Nice touch.

Social Innovation Camp is coming to Scotland

The Social Innovation Camp is coming to Scotland! The Social Innovation Camp is an experiment in using social technology for social change. door

"From Friday 19th to Sunday 21st June 2009 at the Saltire Centre in Glasgow, we’ll be attempting our usual trick and bringing together some of the best of the UK’s software developers and designers, together with those at the sharp end of social change. They’ll have just 48 hours to build some web-based solutions to a set of social problems - from back-of-the-envelope idea to working prototype, complete with software.

But first off, we start with a call for ideas: we want to find the most exciting ideas for how the web could change stuff that really matters. You can enter your idea when our call opens on the 30th March. And remember you don’t need to be based in Scotland to get involved.

We’ve got a new part of our website dedicated to Social Innovation Camp Scotland where you can read all about how it’s going to work over here."

I am going to be in Berlin working with T-labs over those dates! Disappointed! Still very exciting this will be going on so close to home :)

911 Services

Sarah Bahari reports on Calling the Emergency Services. Ram Dantu is leading a group of multi-disciplinary University of North Texas students experimenting on the next generation of 911 services.

"With grants totaling more than $3 million from the National Science Foundation, Dantu is leading an effort to overhaul the 911 infrastructure to better handle emerging technology, such as Internet-based phones, text messages and phones with photo capabilities. He also is developing software to detect and block spam from overloading the emergency service system and developing technologies to better alert the public to emergency situations."


"Emergency services like 911 have had trouble keeping pace with increasingly widespread technology. Reports of delayed responses, misdirected ambulances and unanswered calls from Internet-based phones to 911 are on the rise.

And, like e-mail, Internet-based phones are vulnerable to spam, which could lead to waves of unwanted phone calls and potentially dangerous service tie-ups that could prevent callers from even getting through to emergency help."

The team are asking critical questions:

  • How can 911 call centers be secured from outside attacks that would tie up available lines?
  • What can be done to ensure service during large-scale emergencies? How can neighborhoods be quickly notified of emergencies?
  • And how can 911 services for people who are deaf or hearing-impaired be enhanced through the use of video phones?

Microsoft Imagination

Professor Richard Harper spent yesterday afternoon with Master of Design and Master of Ethnography students. 3213264990_2597e9477b

Richard focused on learning to discover how other people think and how they see the world. How do you do that? You create metaphors for the space you are thinking within.  Whilst talking about the act of gossiping, Richard suggested we think of communication as a 'human act'.

So when someone gossips they are performing, often with the receiver 'doing listening'. Expressing, achieving, listening, looking and ignoring and all acts of communication!

We had an interesting discussion about how designers differ from scientists. Designers have a weird habit of only wanting to show other designers our portfolios. We don't want to show scientists! They wouldn't understand the process! We only show them the finished outcome...

Richards advice: Be aware of this. Use all the tools you have got. Trust people. Show them the roughness. All of this presents an opportunity for deepening and reasoning. Oh, and don't get weary of the way other people tell their story or communicate.

View the world through a lens. In Scandanavia, people only communicate with an average of 4 people. This is extraordinary as they have such rich communication networks. The reality is that friendships are hard work! When answering machines were invented people imagined their friends had always been trying to get them...all of a sudden this was recorded this and we don't get any messages!

"Be compassionate and show that you are human."


Richard also gave a lecture Changing Humans in the evening to a large audience made up of scientists, engineers and designers. It was fascinating and focused on How the designers of computer systems have altered their vision of the human user.

He began by telling us the present is full of shadows. But how do we know what shadow to follow? The key tool is language; metaphors, similes, synonyms, contrasts and imaginings. We need to develop tools to enable us to SEE in different ways. The skill is knowing which way, when, why and what that will gain you.

So people love to chat, love to give and love to share. Using SMS, video, links we love to make our friends laugh! We all have fantastic imaginations and this is proved by the way people tie themselves together in new webs of networks.

"People want to play...and why not!"

View my sketch from Richards talk.

Dundee in Design Week

Exciting article from Design Week featuring the University of Dundee. "Tomorrow a panel of top technology designers will come face-to-face with their disabled consumers, in a pioneering consultation.." Read more here. I have added some personal definitions on the new on-line dictionary service Wordia. I chose to define the word 'favourite' and 'light'...