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DIWO As The New DIY: PSFK Conference, Good Ideas On Changemaking

In the third part of our recent conference, Colin Beavan, Andrew Hoppin, John Dimatos, and Zach Lieberman talked about their approaches to...

Christine Huang
Christine Huang on April 15, 2010.

The third segment of talks at PSFK Conference NYC featured four approaches to making change in today’s world.

Colin Beavan, well known in sustainability circles as No Impact Man, shared his thoughts on progress and how to effectively measure change in a hyper-technological society.

Highlights from Colin’s talk:

Speaking about technological advances (newer, better mobile phones every three months), Colin asked, “Is it really called progress if we’re just doing the same thing over and over again?”

He went further and posed, “Instead of looking at how to use our resources in more sustainable (alternative) ways, maybe the question is how do we use our resources more enjoyably?”

DIWO As The New DIY: PSFK Conference, Good Ideas On Changemaking

Andrew Hoppin, the Chief Information Officer of the New York State Senate, spoke on how leveraging digital media and transparency could better generate social and political impact.

Highlights from Andrew’s talk:

Andrew noted that open and collaborative government can lead to better laws that speak to the people, with less money spent in the legislative process.

“Social media facilitates our participation in establishing the laws that will govern us, motivating all to get involved.”

He said the platforms that enable our leaders and officials to outsource the government to the people allow officials to take on more of the role as community manager, curator and decision maker.

DIWO As The New DIY: PSFK Conference, Good Ideas On Changemaking

John Dimatos, a Resident Researcher at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program and teacher of ‘Designing for UNICEF,’ spoke on how design and human understanding impact social organization.

Highlights from John’s talk:

John noted that ‘good enough design’ can change the world incrementally — not precisely, but accurately enough to complete the tasks required on the ground, so that results can take place more instantaneously.

“Designing through lack of hubris: Collaborative projects require a level of humility and understanding of the ultimate mission. Only then do they have the ability to be truly transformative.”

When developing tools, John said, it’s important to consider the needs of the people out in the field performing the work alongside those of the back end programmers and administrators who are handling the raw data.

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Zach Lieberman, a creative technologist whose work bridges the real world with the digital, spoke about his ongoing collaborative research efforts to empower people and spark creativity.

Highlights from Zach’s talk:

Zach emphasized the notion of artistic practice as research.

“The process of creating art is in many ways an R & D department for humanity, imagining any number of possible futures for the world.”

His work represents magical experiences brought to life, he said. Work that touches on the nature of communication and expression between individuals and their environments has the ability to change the way people see and interact with the world.

An observation made in his artistic research, the “Open Mouth Moment,” when an individual drops their jaw in awe of an often amazing sight, signifies “the pathway to somebody’s heart.”

“DIY has evolved. DIWO (Do It With Others) is the new trend.”

Zach noted that the underlying message of the Eyewriter tool is to practice empathy, not sympathy among its users.

“Art has the power to inspire the next generation.”

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photos by Dave Pinter

Thinking...