Crowdsourcing

Life Bridge

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sydney habour bridge & opera house fireworks n...

During the Christmas break I spent time with my father in country Victoria. Between spending time eating, watching the cricket, and a visit to the local brewery, he asked me: “Do you think you could improve the name for the 10 City Bridge Run?

I thought it was a fair question, and it led into a great conversation. Some good ideas emerged, but nothing conclusive. Returning to Sydney, I was speaking with my good friend Eli who listened to the ideas my father and I had come up with. She said: “what about calling it Life Bridge”.

She borrowed imagery from a metaphor of a ‘life buoy’. Rather than throwing a life buoy to those in need, in this initiative everyone involved is helping to build a ‘life bridge’ to reduce the appalling prevalence of child mortality.

Every human bridge is in fact a ‘life bridge’, and all of these human bridges will contribute to a larger ‘Life Bridge’ presented to the G20 Summit. The ‘life bridge’ that matters is the reduction of child mortality to the many of people affected globally.

This entire project is complex and large. In fact, far bigger than I initially comprehended. The 10 City Bridge Run where I will run 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries all inside of one month commencing on 1 March 2011 is part of this broader ‘Life Bridge’.

I believe that building a ‘life bridge’ to help reduce child mortality is something few people would argue against. Whether they will make the effort to do it themselves through taking a photograph of their own human bridge/life bridge is a different matter.

Collaborating in small ways which might make a difference is important and costs nothing apart from a couple of minutes in time. I believe it is important for many people to show how they care for other people in need, even if that is simply a symbolic act. Would this symbolic act still be seen as meaningless if it were able to result in a petition that influenced a decision at the Paris G20 Summit to help address child mortality?

So what do you think of the name and imagery? Life Bridge.

A year full of new beginnings. For me, this year quite possibly will start with a ‘rebranding’ of the 10 City Bridge Run. The broader initiative will be called ‘Life Bridge’ and the ’10 City Bridge Run’ will be a featured symbolic act in this project both to draw attention and communicate the idea metaphorically. There is not change to what is going to take place, but the name change I think helps to explain it a little bit better.

Admittedly, my strength is not in the spinning and communication of ideas. I need your help. It is 1 January 2011, and most people are probably doing something more sensible than reading this blog. If you are reading this now (새해 많이 받으세요!!! Happy New Year!), please send me your feedback!

Unreasonable!

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Anglo-Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw wri...
George Bernard Shaw: Unreasonable!

George Bernard Shaw is quoted to have said: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

What do you make if this sense of Chutzpah?

One of the three objectives for the 10 City Bridge Run is: “Knowledge sharing through engaging a ‘design community’ in a collaborative creative process of inquiry to tackle the issue of child mortality.”

What would it look like to connect people making big impact with great ideas with other people who have never really thought about making a difference at all? That has the potential to exploit the greatest untapped resource on the planet- ourselves!

To get a sense of where these ideas might be, watch this short video from The Unreasonable Institute:

When everyone with the ideas is inside of one room, this concept is simple. When they are distributed across the globe, it becomes a design challenge. How can we engage with this conversation to make a real difference in reducing child mortality. Or is it just unreasonable and fanciful thinking?

Where the hell is Matt?

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A picture of Matt Harding at Yoyogi Park in Sh...
Matt Harding

Another great example of how an idea can spread. I can’t stand the expression ‘viral’- I think it is overused and abused. But think about what Matt Harding achieved through hus global jig. It is achieving more than over 32 million hits. It is the optimism that flows that connections are meaningful and possible.

I think this just happens. It is not something you can manufacture. This is not what I am referring to when I refer to a ‘design challenge’.

10 Steps to Social Alchemy

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Ashanti Kente cloth patterns

One of the outcomes for the 10 City Bridge Run is to “determine 10 meaningful actions anyone can engage in without needing to spend money which will make a difference over the next five years to positively influence extreme poverty.”

It sounds abstract, right? Without some idea of what this means, the actions could be anything. There are some parameters I wanted to impose:

  • It need not involve spending money. The actions should be applicable for someone at school as much as for a philanthropist with time and money who is trying to decide what to do next.
  • It should cut across cultures. The actions should make sense and have impact regardless of the culture or language in which they are written.
  • They need to be SMART: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time specific. The outcome from these 10 steps ought to be able make a tangible difference beyond just spending money or turning up to an awareness raising event.

Maybe it is a little high-brow. If it is, how can I tone it down to make these more accessible?

I have called them 10 Steps to Social Alchemy, meaning that through following these 10 steps there will be a social change and transformation takes place, an alchemic response.

This is in draft, and one of the items to be crowdsourced over the next month through co-creation or possibly co-moderation given that the list is already formed. How well that works remains to be seen.

Why did I come up with a complete list? I found in trying to explain this to other people, without a complete list that it was far too abstract to explain. Additionally, if through crowdsourcing 1,000 ideas were received, it might have been too numerous to manage.

Please take a minute to review this list. You feedback is needed! The list follows:

  1. Form a small group of less than 10 people. If you have more than 10, divide yourselves into smaller groups. More small groups rather than few large ones. Form a group with people you can commit to meeting over a period of 10 or 12 months.
  2. Agree of the frequency you will meet. This could be online. It could be for as short as 30 minute. It might be as infrequent as monthly. No doubt you will see each other between ‘meetings’. This is not to suggest the meetings are formal. Far from it, it just gives a sense of focus and purpose.
  3. Pin-point an area on the map to learn about. Don’t make the area too large. No bigger than a country. It could be a small as a town or village. Plenty of countries to choose from in sub-Saharan Africa.
  4. Frame the conversation around an issue you would like to know more about. It could be water. It could be sanitation. It could be disease or maternal health. Try to make it something we all take for granted.
  5. Learn. Start to learn about this issue as it affects this area. When you convene as a group share what you have learnt with each other, as well as your questions and what you feel about the information. Use whatever information sources at your disposal without needing to spend money- internet, libraries, newspapers, talks, TV and radio, other people. Remember your sources, and document facts and figures.
  6. Connect. Connect with other groups or organisations that have a similar focus or interest. Retain your integrity as a small group. Remember it is about collaboration and helping others, not power and control! Have fun!
  7. Partner. See if it is possible to communicate and partner with someone in the area you are examining. Make the connections are directly as possible cutting out agency if you can. See how far you can go with social media. Of course there will be challenges- it will not be easy. Differences in language, culture, technology, time differences. This is what this is all about. Understanding the other, our neighbours in the global village. Recognising the challenges and learning to overcome them.
  8. Reflect and analyse. What is the one big idea you have learnt or discovered? It might not be new, but it could be new to you. Remember that the most contagious thing is an idea!
  9. Tell. Be the voice for the people in the area you are looking at, especially about the issue you are examining. How does the idea you have give this some focus? Who will you decide to tell and why? How do you expect them to react and what do you want them to do? What will you do once you have told them? Be bold- go ahead and write a letter to the Prime Minister, or maybe make a presentation to the local school. What will make the most difference?
  10. Love. Remember that the world is not perfect. Be thankful for what you have. Be constructive!

In closing remember these two sayings, one from Australia and one from Africa:

  • You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.
  • If you want to go fast, travel alone.
    If you want to go far, then let’s go together.

 

Design for Generosity

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Cover of "Cognitive Surplus: Creativity a...

Clay Shirky returns to the blog with another inspiring TED Talk titled: How cognitive surplus will change the world.

It is a good talk to use as a practical extension of Suzuki’s talk at the Sydney Opera House last night. The perfect mash-up: Shirky v Suzuki!

Shirky unfolds his argument like this:

  • Institutions are inherently exclusionary.
  • We corporately as humans have trillions of hours of spare time each year.
  • He calls this our “cognitive surplus”.
  • We live in a connected age with technology that allows this to be harnessed.
  • How might this be used to design for generosity with communal benefit?
  • Can this add to civic value and by doing so create a better society?

I think it can. This is how the 10 City Bridge Run is designed- a methodology around crowdsourcing to influence extreme poverty.

Please help us to build bridges to a better future. What would that look like for you?

How do groups get anything done?

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Clay Shirky
Clay Shirky

Clay Shirky outlines a framework for crowdsourcing in this TED Talk. This is explaining the how we can think differently about addressing the problems that come from coordinating work.

During the time I am running in the 10 City Bridge Run (10 runs of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries inside of one month) the real work is the collection of 24,000 photographs of human bridges. 24,000 is reflective of the number of children under the age of five who die daily.

This is a coordination problem with no institution to frame the work. Here are some of the challenges. How can we design or engineer this to work:

  • It needs to be free.
  • It needs to be at no cost.
  • Anyone can contribute from any country, any culture, any language.
  • People need to understand what defines a ‘human bridge’ (…I hear you ask: ok, so what is a ‘human bridge’ exactly?!)
  • The photographs need to have integrity as a group for use as a pictorial petition to present to the leaders of all G20 members once they have been collected and curated.
  • The photographs will subsequently be collated into a book with a working title of “Above the Line” as a educational tool of what might be possible for us as individual’s collectively to do to influence extreme poverty.

At first, it sounds simple enough to just dismiss this problem as “Use Flickr”. I think that Flickr will be the best platform, but how is that best achieved with the right tagging so that these photographs are not confused with others (with similar matching works in their tag).

This is not just some abstract musings. It is a real problem. And I am asking for your help. Help me to design or engineer this so that together we can make a difference.