Week 5

Facing global development’s fear of failure

I thought this article was really interesting in presenting its western point of view of success. Coming from the East, my culture regards failure as something one should be ashamed of. If one has failed, then they had to do whatever they can to put on a façade or the impression that they had succeeded. Coming to the US at a young age definitely gave me a culture shock when I saw how failure is celebrated rather than concealed. I definitely see why we do fail fares in class now. I think that putting an emphasis on how we can improve on our failures is much more realistic and beneficial than looking at the 20% success stories.


I appreciated reading about this specific ambitious project, the reasons of failure, and the steps they took to come up from it. I think this is definitely what people need to read more of rather than only reading about major failures without context or reasons. Having this documentation on hand helps me think about my own project in this class and how it is extremely important to test with the end user, which is in our case (a farmer in a developing country).

The PlayPump: What went wrong?

Things that went wrong with the PlayPump definitely reminded me of how they did not follow the basic innovation principles. I see that they violated the first principle, which is to design with the user. They seemed like they did not understand their context very well and designed with lofty expectations. Another principle they broke is principle 7: “reuse and improve”. They did not use existing infrastructure or frameworks and merely relied on the idea that children at play would simply pump the water. To me, that definitely represents an ethical question of what they were thinking when they released this…

PlayPump ultimately sounds to me like it was designed by the lofty 1% silicon valley that does not understand the lack of resources and technology available in these countries.

A Blurry Vision: Reconsidering the Failure of the One Laptop Per Child Initiative 

“Careful analysis about the culture and necessities of the children needs to be done in the countries before shipping the laptops. Laptops need to be customized to local traditions and customs, so that they are appropriate in their new context.”

This article perfectly points out my frustration with technology built in the West. Technology here is built only with a western mindset. There are very few research/HCI/psychology papers written about how to design technology for different cultures. This then has led the world into a cycle of globalization and americanization. There are already signs of people leaving their own culture in preference of American culture due to the insensitivities of this technology. It is not only a developing world problem but also a global issue that I even see happening in my country.


Connecting Google Home with OpenBCI software to sense real-time EMG data. This data will sense a person’s “stress levels” and send it back to the Google Home which will then play relaxing music from that user’s Spotify account. View Github

How does it work?

Overall System & Transfer of Files: (Processing + OpenBCI Dashboard transmits real-time data from muscle sensors attached to my body -> data is sent to be logged into a file and evaluated based on the average of all FFT points so if above 0.5 threshold then stressed = True and vice versa -> File is sent to be displayed in browser -> Google API accesses stressed state status via URL endpoint)

Week 4

The Death Of Charities: Bitcoin & Blockchain Technology To Replace Them?

I think Blockchain and Bitcoin can absolutely revolutionize the way we donate and help people in need and honestly feels like society is behind is terms of this type of technology. The Internet has already altered several aspects of our culture and behaviour. I believe that this idea should have been implemented a long time ago as transparency is people’s number one concern when donating. At the end of the day, visual communication speaks at much greater length than word or written text.

M-Pesa And The Rise Of The Global Mobile Money Market

I like the idea that these online or mobile transferring services has the potential/ability to cut down costs, become transparent, and even reduce corruption. It also aids the developing world in sounding far more technologically advanced than how the media portrays conditions there to be.

Is M-Pesa essentially Venmo? But a Venmo created for specifically businesses and entrepreneurs in Kenya?

From shore to plate: Tracking Tuna on the Blockchain

“consumers often make buying decisions based on perceived product, “brand” and price. In fact, 30% of UK consumers report that they are very concerned about environmental and social issues, but are struggling to translate this into purchases.”

I wonder how this technology’s transparency will change people’s consumer behaviour if they could see how their money directly impacts slavery or child abuse?

Currently, brand names and advertising control our capitalistic market but what if this type of smart information can help guide people on making their decisions or that advertising can turn into providing ethical data rather than simply presenting a fake image.

Week 4;

Project: I wanted to understand the fundamental groundworks of how the Google search engine works so I attempted with creating my own! I have an “Evil” themed Twitter search page where you can search any query you like and it will access the Twitter API to deliver images containing your selected query.

Github Code, View Website Here

The Medium is the Metaphor:

Postman opens up this chapter with a somewhat pessimistic point of view. He recounts various anecdotes of how the American thinking has become trivial due to media. Politicians are praised for their looks or physique. Advertising has led us to decrease our attention span instead of gathering substantive information and knowledge.

Postman then continues to challenge our way of thinking and why we came to think this way. The medium is the metaphor which means that media communicates in ways that are indirect to how our culture is shaped: “Our languages are our media. Our media are our metaphors. Our metaphors create the content of our culture”.

What I liked about Postman’s reading is that it questions the fundamental questions we take for granted and it asks us to reevaluate mundane things we take for granted every day such as speech, and the written word.

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace:

Similarly, I also loved how this article questions the walls, and governments we build around us. It points out that everything is man made and constructed and that the Internet has the ability to construct a new and free world where we can be ourselves. Looking at when this article was written (1996), I see why his viewpoint was idealistic. At the time, the World Wide Web presented all these new possibilities to our culture. However, after 14 years I have a more negative view of the Internet. The web has turned into large corporations collecting people’s data and feeding them back into the capitalistic society we have created. It has also created biased point of views by feeding people with content and information that their personalities would agree with. I believe that some structure or governing command is necessary to keep the Internet neutral. It is a powerful and dangerous vehicle that could alienate people from each other and contribute to the spread fake news and sources of information.

Week 3

Hans Rosling: The best stats you’ve ever seen:

Data has always been presented to us from a biased western viewpoint. Having lived in 2 different countries, I have experienced the polarization of two propagandas. This video presents stats that were surprisingly positive and optimistic. It proved that countries in Africa and Latin America are not giant holes of endless problems. It proved that these countries range from some of the wealthiest in the world to some of the poorest. Not only does this visualization give us perspective on how to design correctly for problems these countries face but to also not petty them and label them as weak.

My questions for Hans are what implications does this data have on the perception of these third world countries from other nations? Where did those Swedish students gain their knowledge to answer those questions incorrectly? I believe that understanding the root of the problem of their misconception can help misunderstanding.

Designing Field Trial Protocols in Ethiopia for Pneumonia Diagnostic Devices: 

This reading brought up an interesting point the panelists touched on today: “Timely and accurate diagnosis is critical to preventing pneumonia deaths.” Manuel mentioned that when the Ebola crisis came out, medication was one of the most important solutions but that also the spread of information on how to prevent this disease was equally imperative.

It was interesting to read about the process of design and involving the stakeholders of ARIDA in this article. It exemplifies one of the principles of innovation: collaboration.

The Economics of Drone Delivery: 

Personally, I would rather use drones to deliver blood samples in Lesotho rather than my amazon purchases. I think this raises an interesting question of how we as a society always want the fastest easiest option. Is getting your package 3 or 4 days later really that much of a wait? Studies have already shown that the attention span of humans has decreased with the increase of technology.. do we need yet another “innovation” to boost a capitalistic venture and make us more impatient beings? Why can’t we use this technology instead to solve problems in remote areas as the article suggests.

Aerial Damage Assessment Following Hurricane Sandy:

A bit confused when I read this article. Why are we comparing aerial images of damages caused by Hurricane Sandy? What do we gain from this assessment that can help us “ensure quality and reliability for future responses”? I see their overall point in that we should gather data first, bring in non-experts for judgment, and then lastly bring in experts to confirm results. However, what’s the scalability of this study? How can it apply to other emergencies?

What is driving UBER’s Global Impact?

I wonder how Uber designed their app for countries like Uganda or Saudi Arabia and how that design process looked like. I would be interested to hear more about the journey there rather than hearing about a brief overnight success story (because certainly that’s not the truth)

Community Case Management handbook:

I really liked how this handbook broke down the entire process of designing health care delivery. It was very clear and efficient. It reaffirmed everything the panelists said today. Manuel’s point of how data can slowly be collected in countries where there are no digital traces was touched upon. To me, this represents the true ethical way of dealing with data, not trespassing one’s privacy, and how simple information can create organization and awareness, and even connect people together such as the community case worker and her community.

Questions for panelists:

 1. How can we connect the mobile health system designed by UNICEF and Frog design to the UBER design model? I definitely see correlations there

2. Would UBER support a venture that was not supported by any monetary value?

Design Thinking Workshop

Problem: Danni wishes she could informally communicate with her parents who live in China. Her parents do not like to text and when they wish to communicate, they always want a live facetime video chat on the weekends. Danni wishes she could communicate with them more casually rather than face to face interaction.

My solution: designing audio device chips that could be incorporated in pieces of clothing you wear daily to send recorded audio messages to each other. One tap means listen to audio messages and two taps mean record. This way, communication is informal but yet still personal. it also solves the issue of the vast time difference that sometimes prevents them from chatting.

Prototype: I created ear muffs and fluffy earnings to demonstrate how chip can be incorporated into different things one wears.


Week 2

Principles of Innovation in Action:

Many of the questions that Marianna asked were discussed in class but I particularly found the first question interesting. I agree in the presence of an innovation fever within the tech world. Everyone seeks to make something new and different rather than putting in the effort to study a situation and build upon its existing infrastructure. I appreciate how Fabian recognizes that these labels and terms can truly put a person at a standstill and subconsciously change the work dynamic of a leader. In addition, I also appreciate that the Innovation unit didn’t take “collaboration” as a guaranteed principle. They are constantly revising and questioning how they can work better as a team. I believe that this self-awareness is the root of what makes them successful.

Social Media Fingerprints of Unemployment:

I wonder how their model can provide data about countries with fewer social media outlets?

I was also wondering about privacy issues.. would a method like this ever be truly be used by government to study its country’s economy? Would the public accept it and not label it as spying? I feel that due to a lack of awareness, most users do not know that data is being constantly collected from the digital traces they leave online. How would they feel if they were made more aware?

The Data That Turned the World Upside Down:

This article was extremely troubling to read. Even though, I knew I left digital traces and that data is being collected about me constantly.. the idea that someone can figure out my personality, ethnicity, and views from an aggregate of overwhelming data is crazy. Where does it stop? And does it mean anything if I free my life from any tech influence?

I think it’s interesting when I ask people how they feel about big data collection. Most people’s responses are: “oh I don’t really care that much that data is being collected. I’m not doing anything incriminating”. I think the true danger here is yes you are not doing anything incriminating but that this data is collected to subconsciously change your mood and your decisions. That is where the real problem lies.

Fake News Is Not the Only Problem:

This article definitely hit base with how I have been feeling lately – “the distrust of institutions”. Capitalism and money feeds fake news. I can def see how fake news really influences some people’s opinions especially those who have come up to me to ask rather strange questions about Saudi Arabia they have seen on the news.. where did they get this news? Saudi Arabia is a mysterious country to the west and thus the media paints a picture, as the article states, with beliefs and expectations one already has.

I wonder how this affects third world countries with less social media outlets and media coverage?

Questions for Guest Speakers:

  1. How did you become interested in the topic of big data?
  2. What do you think is the most “popular” topic regarding data collection and analysis?
  3. How can you work with big data ethically?
  4. When do you think big data intervention has crossed a line?
  5. Why do you think the laws regarding privacy are more relaxed in the US than Europe? Does it have to do with lack of public awareness?

Week 1

For this week’s assignment, I decided to look into why Twitter’s product is failing.

When Twitter reported its first quarter earnings last year, they came in under expectations: the company’s haul of $595 million was less than the $607.8 million than analysts expected. Reasons why the company is failing:

  • Company has refused to address harassment concerns on free speech grounds. Many celebrities including Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones have threatened to quit Twitter after facing harassment from online trolls.
  • The social networking platform has been behind the market in terms of innovation — rivals such as Facebook have pulled farther ahead by continuing to offer new features regularly
  • Rather than betting on ad-revenue opportunities, Twitter executives bet on live streams, but services such as Facebook Live took over in terms of numbers.

Things that Twitter have done to improve user audience:

  • Replaced CEO Dick Costolo with co-founder Jack Dorsey
  • Launched Moments, a tab of Twitter highlights aimed at new users
  • Launched a TV ad campaign
  • Improved tools to report harassment and abuse
  • Began sorting tweets in the timeline by quality than recency
  • Replaced “favourites” with “likes”
  • Allowed longer direct messages
  • Added polls
  • Integrated Periscope into the Twitter timeline

Twitter today indeed looks different than it did a year ago. But it remains unprofitable, its user numbers are flat, and its chief rival, Facebook, is looting it for parts (and executives).

In honour of Masaya Nakumara…

  1. Hosting my Pac-man art on Digital Ocean VPS! Success! View here

2. In his 1945 essay, As We May Think, Vannevar Bush narrates the future as seen 50 years ago. He calls on scientists around the world to collaborate on initiatives that help society rather than initiatives that destroy man and lead to warfare.

In terms of increasing the accessibility of knowledge, I agree with Bush. I believe that now in the 21st century, we are starting to do this. Examples such as open source BCI, open source BTS are applications of the collaboration people are looking for. With the growth of cross-disciplinary education in certain institutions, people are changing their view of what have traditionally been separate schools of thought.

Even though this paper was interesting to read, I found its conclusions to be outdated and not necessarily applicable to the vastly different technological world we live in today.