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.
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 Innovation– As 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.”
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:
- 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.
- 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