I feel that we are living in a very interesting moment within human history. For the first time in our existence, much of humanity can have access to the breadth of our knowledge. Unfortunately, we find ourselves still in the beginning stages of this tool and there are growing pains as we figure out how to utilize this collective knowledge.
The idea of crowdsourcing has been around for over a decade now but I still find it to be a novel concept. I truly do believe that we will be able to learn how to harness the collective minds on the internet to come up with solutions, both on a small localized level and on a worldwide level.
Decentralizing data acquisition through citizen science is amazing. If done properly, it allows researchers to have a better data set to analyze but it also allows people, who are not scientists, to have a deeper connection with the research. I feel that deeper connection with the general populace is lacking in most research. Most of the time, research is explained in ways that are not understandable to someone without that same background as the researchers. Any research organization that wants to make their work more understandable should hire an interaction designer. Even if research is more accessible, how do we potentially use that collectivization to come up with solutions to problems? How do we get people to be excited about cooperating in this type of engagement without it devolving into a group of naysayers being chauvinistic?
I have no idea.
Trying to engage with a mass of people online is really tricky and really intimidating. To start, I want to experiment with brainstorming ideas on and with the internet.
Experiment #1 - It's like Chopped but for shitty robots...
This is an idea that originated from my friend, Barry Kudrowitz. The premise is a contest show where you give the same random items to a few engineers and designers and see what they create. I tried proposing this idea to a community of shitty robot enthusiasts. I asked that they propose two random items and I would build a shitty robot using the items with the highest amount of votes.
I thought it would be a fun way to experiment with a new way of engaging an audience and getting their input. The two items that were voted the highest were a Justin Bieber doll and a pack of model rocketry rockets. I decided to make a two part video. One introducing the character, the second documenting an adventure.
I made this video to promote the concept.
This was part one.
I've delayed making part two because the entire concept has, overall, not been very well received. I'm pretty certain that the moderators of this community have deleted my babyBiebs video post.
So far, this experiment has been discouraging. I was hoping that this community would be an online space to explore silly concepts with technology without taking itself too seriously. Instead the community seems to focus on what should be considered a properly shitty robot. Boring.
I came back to this project almost a year later and made another video.