Monday, July 14, 2008

Day One

Today started at 7:30am and didn't end until 11:34pm. There was breakfast, registration, and introduction by Amy Smith about what IDDS is about. The vision of IDDS is have a conference where people come away with prototypes, and not just proceedings. We were lucky enough to have Paul Polak speak to us today, who recently published Out of Poverty. He also spoke about experience with the Treadle Pump, myths of poverty eradication and four design challenges ready for revolution. If there was one thing to take away from him, its that charity is not the way out of poverty. The first world can subsidize the creation of markets, they have to sustain themselves though, or they won't work in the developing world.

Also, Paul Polak's 12 steps to Practical Problem Solving:
  1. Go to where the action is.
  2. Talk to the people with the problem, and listen to them.
  3. Learn everything you can about the specific context.
  4. Think and act big.
  5. Think like a child (my favorite).
  6. See and do the obvious.
  7. Don't reinvent things.
  8. Design to critical price targets.
  9. Design to measurable improvement (I interpret as scalability).
  10. Work to practical three years plans.
  11. Keep learning from your customers.
  12. Stay positive, don't be distracted by what other people think.
We were then briefed on what to expect, which I will summarize as lots of hands on workshops, and team work. We then broke into groups (the group I was in named ourselves Fontomfrom, it is a drum in Ghana, that is used to signal people), had lunch, walked around MIT, and followed that up with a Design Activity.  

After all that, Ben (don't know his last name, will find out) shared with the IDDS Participants a brief on the Design Process, using his example on working on De-mining equipment in Cambodia (have to double check that). Finally, Amy Smith shared with us demonstrations of her Charcoal Project and Corn Sheller projects. We ended the day at a local Chinese restaurant, where Oswee told me about his work as an Animal Science instructor. Apparently, if you want chickens to lay more eggs, you need to expose them to more sunlight (16 hours is optimal). The day still wasn't over, a group of us ended by playing soccer into the late hours.

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