[Please note: I actually have a lot more to say on this topic but decided to keep it short and sweet for your sanity and mine… mainly mine.]
I’ve been involved with a few research projects lately. Each project is interesting and worthwhile in their own right. However, I’ve noticed there has been a two-part theme that has run throughout all of them:
a) Is tech the solution or the problem?
b) How much influence does funding have in that answer?
We live in this wonderful society where tech and digital is plentiful. As a Google Explorer and someone who has my iPhone pretty much attached to my hand at all times, I’m constantly connected. I’m the type of person that gets the shakes when the power goes out.
However, I’m also the first to ask: are we using tech for the right reason? Are we trying to fit that square into a circle because we should or because it’s there?
Too often the issue is related to funding and the need to prove digital/tech in the response solely to tick the right box.
There is also a need to have the perfect package/product as the solution at ‘the end’ of project.
A few of the research projects have been about tech, others were more of an open canvas in which digital/tech solution was implied. Majority of the ‘solutions’ were thought to be an app of some kind. Why?
Some of the responses include:
- Statistics show mobile use is up
- Everyone likes/owns/has a smartphone
- It’s where things are headed.
Ok, so smartphone use is up – does that mean it has to be used? Sometimes the answer is yes. I’m not anti-apps. I am against the creation of apps because it’s the only thing funders understand causing people to waste money on their development for the wrong reason.
RESEARCH IS LEARNING
I’m a proud Google Explorer. I originally set out to see how Google Glass could work in museums and art galleries. I’m still very interested to see where it could be implemented but during a research focus group, the ‘goal’ changed for me.
A lovely lady who happened to be in a wheelchair asked to use Google Glass, she told me I had to put them on as her hands were too crippled. Once they were on, she was able to use the back of her hand to use Glass and go through the different features. She came across ‘Call’ and asked if she could make phone calls with Glass. I explained that as long as the information was on the tethered phone, yes. Her expression changed. ‘You mean I can make a call without dialling or holding anything?’ ‘Yes’ I replied. ‘I haven’t been able to call my sister in two years without the carers being around.’
That statement was a punch in the stomach for me. Here I was trying to fit Glass into an area/sector I thought it might work when there are more obvious usage for them.
For me Google Glass isn’t about a new gadget. It’s about technology that can make real differences to the right people. If I was under the control of funding, this shift in focus wouldn’t be allowed and the research would just be ignored.
How sad is that?
FAILING FORWARD, FAIL BETTER, JUST FAIL
Recently there has been more acceptance of ‘Failing Forward’. Science Gallery Dublin even has an exhibition called Fail Better . The website states:
“To open up a public conversation about failure, particularly the instructive role of failure, as it relates to very different areas of human endeavour. Rather than simply celebrating failure, which can come at great human, environmental and economic cost, we want to open up a debate on the role of failure in stimulating creativity: in learning, in science, engineering and design.”
So let’s think about this: We know we need to test in order to learn. We know that the final product is NEVER the first product. We also know tech/digital is always growing/expanding/changing.
Then why do we expect perfection with each project?
THERE IS NO BOX
Ok, who decided there was a box and that we all had to work around it? I’m sick and tired of hearing ‘Think outside the box!’ NO! I don’t want to think outside – I want to throw the box in the trash and put it out of its (and our) misery.
Seriously, this box has caused so much stale and awkward thinking the last couple of tech years.
Real changes, real thinking and real differences takes place when we forget about the box. I feel like I should start a Change.org petition on this.: Ban the Box! (ok, Ban the Bomb has a better ring but you get the idea).
Let’s stop trying to make the issues fit with the funding app. Instead, why not look at your local issues and see how and where positives changes can come about? If digital/tech is right, great! But don’t do it just because it ticks the right box – because THERE IS NO BOX.
Ideas and creativity are being suffocated by The Box and Funding applications. It’s time we stop allowing funders so much power and influence over the real needs and issues. This of course will only work when funders understand how out-dated and old fashion their tick boxes are.
** Steps off soapbox **