Tim Brown

Why more aid is not the starting point to solve poverty.

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Alan Kay and the prototype of Dynabook, pt. 5 ...
Alan Kay. Known in association with $100 Laptop.

Alan Kay is a genius. Here in this video he is speaking on “Why does computer-based teaching fail?”

Does this have anything to do with poverty? Not directly, but the idea is relevant. In fact, I would argue that through this argument we can see why aid is not the starting point to solve extreme poverty.

This is not the same as to argue for or against aid. It is a question of design. “We should design in order to think”, so says Tim Brown from IDEO. This is a similar argument that Kay presents here.

We should start with the idea, and then use aid as necessary to address the problem leveraging the idea. Ideas should be the start point. Not aid.

In the process of gathering 24,000 of ‘human bridge’ photographs during the 10 City Bridge Run, might it be possible to stumble across a few good ideas that could better leverage aid? Let’s hope so.

Think Big!

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Tim Brown from IDEO presents a new approach to design thinking in this TED Talk. He argues that through design, we can and should now be addressing new kinds of problems, not just ‘things’.

Brown suggests that we are moving away from a primary objective of consumption, and toward participation. The design of a participatory system is at the heart of the 10 City Bridge Run. Difficult in some ways because it is more an emergent and self-selecting involvement. How might we use this opportunity, this short space of time, to model what is needed to address extreme poverty? Of course, already there is a lot of great activity out there- Buckminster Fuller and Acumen are two examples that readily spring to mind.

Brown says there are a couple of characteristics which ought to shape how we view design thinking, and these also why ‘human bridges’ are an important device in shaping how the 10 City Bridge Run is defined:

  • Design is human centred.
  • It requires an understanding of culture and context.
  • Prototypes are important. We should build in order to think.
  • We need to take a divergent approach leading to new choices.

Since commencing this project, the start of the run has been delayed six times for different reasons. At first, I was a little embarrassed because of the delays, and still would have preferred to have started earlier, but when I look at them less as failures and more as prototypes it strengthens what the 10 City Bridge Run is about.

The big characteristic which Brown suggests is important is asking what is the question we want to address. This might appear self-evident, but is actually an important reason to pause and reflect.