Posts tagged "byo"

4 ways BYO projects makes the world a better place

BYO projects was initially driven by need – we both found ourselves with 25+ browser tabs open at any given time filled with projects we found interesting.

However, while they were interesting we weren’t really quite sure what to do with them. Email, twitter, facebook, delicious – nothing seemed to provide the right platform for cataloging and sharing.

As with many of our projects we decided to solve it socially and experimentally – creating a space to solicit and curate these projects.

image of the form to submit a project

But we didn’t want to run another review site. We wanted examine each of these projects through the same lens, creating a meaningful context and giving us the ability to compare projects. For us that lens had to do with the work that we do – creative problem solving, experience design, technology, and community engagement – as well as our ultimate goal: making the world a better place.

1. How does this project make the world a better place?
We weren’t really sure how things would progress when we launched last month, but after six weeks of posting we have some really interesting learnings to share about how BYO projects has impacted our lives and the lives of the people we’ve reached.

Along with our growing community of readers, we’ve slowly developed a completely different way of looking at the world that has simultaneously changed our perception of the projects in our field as well as provided ongoing moments of inspiration.

BYO projects makes the world a better place by:

  • Cultivating Mindfulness – Each week we publish at least one project that we believe makes the world a better place. Writing and publishing each post takes a few hours at most. However, seeking, finding and curating these posts is something that never ends. We are constantly analyzing how the things around us are (or are not) making the world a better place. We are no longer looking at projects because they are simply interesting – we are critically analyzing them and being mindful about how they work.
  • Focusing us on Impact, not Shiny Objects– Shiny Object Syndrome plagues many of us, especially in field of technology. We are often on the lookout for the cool new *thing* without regards to whether or not it is actually producing something meaningful. Since launching BYO projects we realized that many of the *things* we first thought were “cool” are just that –- cool. There is nothing wrong with this (and there is lots of learn from projects that are simply “cool”) but we are looking for something deeper. Take, for example, Wimpy Burger’s recent video campaign announcing the availability of braille menus in their restaurants. The video showed them serving visually-impaired customers special hamburger buns with sesame seeds arranged into braille messages.

    We initially wanted to feature this project here – it warmed our hearts and is an effective marketing campaign. But IS this making the world a better place? Braille menus are a great thing to have, and the people who experienced the customized buns surely felt special. Or is the campaign automatically disqualified because it is run by a fast food chain? But who are we to judge the value that fast food creates in people’s lives? The value in BYO projects does not lie in answering these questions, but in fostering ongoing discussions about what makes the world a better place. Do you think we should write a post about Wimpy’s campaign?
  • Creating the Context for InnovationAs Steven Johnson describes in a recent TED talk, new ideas are generated when existing ideas get together:

    “But the other thing that makes the coffeehouse important is the architecture of the space. It was a space where people would get together from different backgrounds, different fields of expertise, and share. It was a space, as Matt Ridley talked about, where ideas could have sex. This was their conjugal bed, in a sense – ideas would get together there.”

    BYO projects mixes 1) ideas about specific areas of practice (creative problem solving, experience design, community engagement and technology) with 2) a conscious understanding of impact (making the world a better place) 3) who the audience is, and 4) what they can do.

    I no longer just walk into a coffee shop thinking about what kind of muffin to get. I think about how they could engage their community to create more sustainable and delicious menu items. I no longer just pass through the airport as quickly as possible. I think about how the airport could design better waiting lines to increase the comfort and safety of passengers.
  • Motivating People to Action – We’ve come across several projects that might make the world a better place within our specific areas of practice, but aren’t designed in a way that allows people to extend the impact of the project. Our hope is that encouraging project designers to think about how our readers can extend the impact of their work will change the way projects are designed.

2. Who is the intended audience?
We believe that it is a human instinct to want to make the world a better place, and accordingly our audience is as broad as it gets.

3. How can our readers extend the impact of this project?
Again, we believe that it is a human instinct to want to make the world a better place. Our primary goal is give our audience a framework within which to exercise that instinct, and a space where they can share their findings.

To that end, we have two suggested actions:  

  1. Use the lens then share a project – Once you start thinking in this way you’ll see “BYO projects” worthy projects everywhere. We promise. Once you do, we’d love for you to share your findings – whether they come in the form of tiny projects in your community or projects with a global scale and reach.
  2. Spread the word - We want to grow and cultivate a community of people willing to look at the world through this lens and share what they’ve found in the form of submissions about projects that make the world a better place. Please share with people who might be interested in looking at the world through this lens and ask that they submit a project and signup for our weekly email newsletter.

submitted by: laurenbaier

Measuring Success in the Library of the Future

For the past six months I have been working on a project with Webbmedia Group and the Chicago Public Library to help them reinvent their services and strategies for the 21st century. Part of this work included creating new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that the library could use to measure their impact as their traditional metrics - foot traffic and circulation - did not adequately capture their current impact in communities. They needed KPIs that reflected the changing information needs of 21st century citizens* including: 
  • Being deliberate about sharing information in the ways people are consuming it 
  • Providing access to technology that facilitates information sharing for people who cannot otherwise afford it 
  • Creating spaces (virtual and physical) and providing the resources for people to create and remix information. 

That’s why we put together the Key Performance Indicators Toolkit: New Methods for Measuring a Library’s Community ImpactIn it you’ll find over 70 indicators that help answer the following key performance questions: 
  1. Are the digital needs of library customers being met? 
  2. How well are customers receiving and sharing library information? 
  3. Is the library enabling technology access to customers who could otherwise not afford it? 
  4. How are customers using the library’s digital content?

Scroll here to read the full report: 

 Key Performance Indicators For Libraries

View more documents from Webbmedia Group

1. How does this project make the world a better place?

Libraries have traditionally been one of the primary sources of information for citizens. The internet, however, has liberated much of the information that was once only contained in physical artifacts. But that has not wiped out the need for robust community libraries. To be sure, a library’s worth extend far beyond the number of books moving to and from each building. Libraries are places of and for learning, whether that takes place in an electronic book, on the internet, via text messaging or even at a face-to-face meeting with a clerk. People walk into libraries to be part of a community, look for jobs, access the internet, use word processing programs, take classes and build skills, create content, and sometimes to simply take shelter from the cold in a friendly and nonjudgmental space. 

In order to remain relevant libraries need to ensure that they are adapting to this new environment, meeting the information needs of their Customers and providing unique curation, expert advice, a welcoming space, and cutting edge services that their Customers demand and which the library is well poised to provide. Many libraries are doing just that and this toolkit will help them measure that impact and quantitatively demonstrate their importance within communities.
2. Who is the intended audience?

Researchers, foundation staff, librarians, city/county government officials and others who are interested in figuring out how to measure the impact of the library of the future, and patrons who are interested in understanding how to advocate for increased support of the libraries within their communities. 

3. How can our readers extend the impact of this work?

We encourage researchers, foundation staff, librarians, city/county government officials and others to circulate this document and use it with colleagues. If you choose to cite from the document please use the following attribution: 

Key Performance Indicators Toolkit: New Methods for Measuring a Library’s Community Impact, by Webbmedia Group, Feb. 2012.
For more information contact

*Please note that in this context “citizen” does not refer to a naturalized individual but rather any person living within our communities. 

submitted by: yasminsabrina2

Libraries + Technology: Bridging the Gap

From August 2011 - January 2012 Yasmin Fodil of BYO consulting and Webbmedia Group worked with the Chicago Public Library to re-imagine a library for the future. One of our tasks was to develop a broad list of projects that could be implemented using a range of resources and time. We developed workflows for over 20 projects that can be scaled at libraries across the country. The projects we are releasing here are especially important because they connect libraries to the technology communities they need in order to thrive in an ever-changing technology landscape:

  • Geeks in Residence - There are many would-be entrepreneurs who cannot afford to rent an office space and have grown out of working at a coffee shop. The Geeks in Residence project will give local technology start-ups access to shared workspace in exchange for time volunteered to train staff and engage with patrons around technology issues. Transforming the library into a hub that welcomes technology entrepreneurs would help this most important institution keep its footing as information needs shift while giving members of the technology community something they desperately want and need
  • Adopt a Librarian - Libraries are not just places to get books; they are places to get information. In recent years, people have begun to get more of their information through technology, and as such expect that librarians are also experienced with information technology. This, combined with Americans’ struggle in a down economy, results in many people looking to the library as their primary connection to technology. However, decreased budgets and staff have led to a workforce that is not prepared to provide patrons with guidance around accessing and using technology. The Adopt-a-Librarian program will pair technology whizzes with branch librarians and help them keep up to date with emerging tools and trends.
  • Backstage Tours - Most library patrons engage with the things we want them to see: public buildings, books, records, computers, and workspaces. However, there is a whole other side to libraries that remains hidden to the general public, but which is of utmost interest to many. The library’s “backstage,” where books are stored and sorted is endlessly fascinating to many — particularly those in the technology and information sectors. Libraries could create a backstage tour to bring in high-profile technology and information leaders throughout their regions. This type of activity would help these leaders better understand the complexities, challenges, and opportunities in running a large library system, provide them with networking opportunities with peers, and potentially turn them into library advocates.

1. How does this project make the world a better place?

We believe that public libraries are a hugely important part of a democracy. We also believe that  in order to survive they will have to embrace the changes in digital technology.

Each of the three projects we have released highlights creative ways to connect libraries and librarians to the skills and resources that they need to thrive in a constantly evolving information landscape. So many people rely on the libraries as a bridge to the internet, and librarians are often looked to for support with new technologies. However, with decreased tax bases and budgets libraries struggle to provide training around digital technology for their front line workers.

All of these projects look to connect libraries and librarians with the technology communities who could be a major source of support in these tough times.

2. Who is the intended audience?

Library systems who are looking to better engage the technology communities in their towns and cities.

3. How can our readers extend the impact of this project?

We want libraries to remain vibrant anchors of information in their communities, and we believe that partnering with the technology community is one important way to do that. To that end, please share these concepts with people who you think might be able to bring some of these projects to fruition in your locality and email me (yasmin at if you’d like the workflows for these three projects.

submitted by: yasminsabrina2

Accent theme by Handsome Code

BYO projects is a collection of projects curated by Yasmin Fodil and Lauren Baier and submitted by you!

We showcase projects that make the world a better place through creative problem solving, experience design, technology, and community engagement.

All submitted projects are considered for our Projects We Love page, where we highlight exemplary work in these fields.

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