On Soliciting + Sharing Feedback

This past weekend contributors and staff working on the Mozilla project came together in Brussels, Toronto and Santa Clara to share where we’re headed. One of the best parts of this Summit for me has been getting to know the Mozilla User Experience team. (Those would be our cohorts on the Mozilla Corporation side of the house, which is a sister organization to the Foundation where I work. Go figure that it took traveling to Belgium to meet smart folks who sit one floor away in SF!)

Tony Santos hosted a session about soliciting and giving actionable feedback to designers. Together a small group of engineers, UX staff, and a communications director talked about our teams’ approaches to peer-based critique and the difference between that and feedback solicited from external stakeholders. We agreed that we can all be more open about our processes and clear in what we’re seeking (including reactions from community members even on quick timeframes).Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 5.16.04 PM more

Design Duo Designs for Young Lady Makers + Mentors

Design DuoSTEM

I remember my Dad teaching me at an early age how to use computers, mostly publishing programs, and how much I loved that time. The words you typed would instantly show up on the screen (!), and it was a neat excuse for us to learn about software together.

So it’s not surprising that I’m excited about what the team behind Design Duo has created in their new DIY kits for dads and daughters. I suppose that the hands-on boxes for making gadgets could be used by any youth-adult combo (or even youth-youth), and the potential this has for lighting young people up about hardware creation could be neat. This is one response to many middle school-age girls perceiving technology-related careers as lonely, and the Roominate building toy is another worth watching. Kudos to Kirti Patel and Laura Bruursema, Master’s students in Stanford’s Learning, Design & Technology program for designing the idea–let me know when the boxes can be sent as gifts for gals.

Garden Guides & Global Education

I recently wrote about organic growth and discovery of badges in regards to a research and design project we’re undertaking on the Mozilla Open Badges team. It feels like this theme is burgeoning in my personal life, too, as my beau and I are working with the Bernal Heights shop Succulence and @loverbee to select plants for our wedding in three weeks. Some of her recent creations at right reflect important questions around the interviews I’ve been undertaking: as badges help illustrate our learning and interests, might the commonalities between badges help highlight the relationships between them? And how can their differences pique our interest?Camera

At this moment in our protoyping process I have more questions than answers, but a few core themes are revealing themselves in the wilderness:

  • Garden guides could help people recognize their life goals. On the team we’ve talked about the idea of mentors and coaches helping turn learners onto different pathways. more

How Does Your Garden Grow? Considering Badges Discovery

Garden by the bay

“My university degree is the tree. It’s a bedrock of legitimacy but lacks specificity with regards to what I’m capable of. Badges are the ornaments that show what I am good at. That’s where the details are.”                - Charles, MentorMob

I’m excited to have taken on a fresh new role on the Mozilla Open Badges team as product and design researcher, largely because I’m getting to talk to community members about their needs within this connected learning ecosystem. In asking educators and technologists (or badgering them, as some might say) about tools that will help in finding relevant content and locating related programming, I’ve learned that analogies abound. People like Charles are describing the OBI and its potential impact in very different ways. more

The Bay Welcomes (Very Needed) Passion Parlours

Maybe because it’s summer–though we San Franciscans are still awaiting our warm months–or because #PassionProject is trending, but connecting with meaningful work and a creation ethos seems to be on many minds. I say: amen. And bring it on!

But putting our interests into action can be as hard as initially identifying them. What’s a person to do? Pause and Shine has launched locally with tools to create space for realizing big audacious goals. One of them is in-person workshops–”Passion Parlours”–that have sold out across SF and the Peninsula. A mobile app aimed at personal reconnection is in the works, and stories on the site take a real (and tough) approach–maybe the reason you haven’t made money doing the thing you love is that you haven’t been working on it long enough. Do get on the community list set up by founder and Airbnb technologist extraordinaire Jessica Semaan and coach Ije Ude–and report back upon exhale.

Passion Parlour

TechCrunch: Samahope to Help Fund Medical Treatments for Women in Need around the World

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 9.28.19 AMI was honored to feature Samahope’s work to help women in need of medical care around the world in TechCrunch.

This Sunday, there’s a lot you can do in honor of the woman who raised you. There’s TheMomtract, a project out of the ad agency Mother New York to give your mother authority back over some part of your life. There are flowers and promises to let fewer of her calls go to voicemail.

But the San Francisco-based startup Samahope hopes that funds usually reserved for cross-state chocolate delivery might be used to finance medical treatments for women in need around the world. Its #HonorYourMom project is soliciting donations for medical treatments for women along with tweet-length anecdotes about participants’ own parents’ uniqueness. And while funding fistula repair surgery may not have been part of some users’ plans this year, the non-profit organization’s founders hope that providing safe birth kits in a mom’s name won’t take much convincing. more

Good Garden State Story

Lest you think this is a post about Zach Braff’s crowdsourced campaign for a film follow-up, I’ll direct you to Brian Leaf’s personal tale from the Novato publisher New World Library. “Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi: My Humble Quest to Heal My Colitis, Calm My ADD, and Find the Key to Happiness” is his story about getting sick, stumbling into practicing, meeting a crazy cast of characters, and getting well. His reflections on exploring yoga while in college in the 80s are a ton of fun, least of all because of the interesting notes: that was the same decade when sticky mats were evolved from carpet padding (an improvement from the tiger skins used years ago by Indian yogis).

The book provided grateful laughs while I was in the middle of advanced Forrest Yoga teacher training last week. His keys to happiness may not be novel (“Meditate.”), but they are needed: “Become most real.” Misadventures


Urban Agents, Unite

On April 9 (tonight!) the advocacy organization SPUR will host a gathering of young urbanists to discuss directions for improving urban environments. Between Code for America’s expanding data work with cities and an increasing number of parklets sprinkled throughout SF, the conversation feels like a timely one. “Two poles” of design–non-professional contributions and those from traditional urban development sectors–will be considered during the program with California College of the Art’s Urban Lab. Public Architecture, Stamen Design and Design Observer will share their thinking, and I love how MKThink CEO and program panelist Miller conceives of what’s needed for this space: “To remain vital and relevant, we must not only think like architects, but analysts, cultural anthropologists, inventors, and community advocates as well.”


TechCrunch: Maker’s Row: Matchmaker Between Designers & Domestic Manufacturers

Maker's Row

I had the good fortune of meeting and featuring this team that is focused on empowering designers and makers alike. Full story on TC.

Barriers to international manufacturing and high fuel costs have long made overseas production painful for small businesses. Now, an economic trend towards American manufacturing has created a timely entrance to the market for Maker’s Row. The startup, a finalist in last week’s Women 2.0 Pitch Competition, says it wants to become a go-to resource to create, well, anything.

Co-founders Matthew Burnett and Tanya Menendez launched Maker’s Row in November to act as a sort of Match.com with Kiva.org-like profiles for factories and facilities. The site enables recognized designers and amateurs alike to partner with manufactures that are searchable on the site by state to create a range of items, from handbags to sportswear. It charges manufacturers a subscription fee to post. Read the post in its entirety.

New Lydali Worldly Wares

LydaliFor her birthday I just gave my Mom a handmade bowl from the SF-based e-retailer company Lydali. Like the other gifts I’ve bought on the site, it went over (very) well, in part because each item on the site features a story about the artisans who made it.

The online store, which “brings together well-designed jewelry, accessories, and home furnishings from around the world,” sources from 21 countries. It was launched eight months ago by Ali Price and Lydia Harter (whose combined names gave the company its moniker), two friends who met at Wake Forest before working at Kiva.org and Pottery Barn, respectively.

I’m especially struck by a colorblock clutch from Rags2Riches out of Manila, a blue agate ring from Joya in Cape Town, and a handblown olive glass pitcher out of Jordan. Any of which would be much appreciated this week o’ love, of course.