Tuesday, March 18, 2008

TED meets IDEO

So, my favorite gathering of the year, TED, recently wrapped up in Monterey, California. I shortly thereafter, I came across a widget developed by IDEO in conjunction with the event to help encourage users to think about the "big questions" that we face as a society. With all of the buzz surrounding widgets these days, it seems like a perfect match--an innovative, big think agency developing for a conference that exists solely to promote big thoughts and ideas and help them come to fruition.

Unfortunately, the widget falls desperately short in the same way so many do--by failing to think any deeper than the rousing strategy of "hey, we should make a widget for that!" In effect, the result is another piece of cybertrash--a download with great promise that immediately disappoints and then gets deleted.

Mentality surrounding widgets, and all communication for that matter, deserves a fundamental shift. These digital tools are only relevant if they provide a benefit for the end user. Does incorporating this widget improve the lives or efficiencies of anyone?


The only functionality it allows is that you can submit a "big question" that could potentially be shared with the world, just like today's gem seen above. Instead, this could easily be posing great questions and aggregating powerful responses--truly starting a global conversation in the spirit of both TED and IDEO. At the very least, it could serve as a personal log of my individual thoughts on questions by allowing me to enter in each day's response and catalog it, creating a sort of mini-journal of gut reactions to "big questions".

If, for some reason, you'd like to try it out for yourself, download it here.

There is so much more that can be done. There are bigger ideas that can actually make a difference.

2 comments:

Vasta said...

Like you, a bunch of us felt that the true power in IDEO's Big Questions was actually in the answers that they inspired. Because of that, we started http://bigquestionsanswered.com to get people thinking and sharing.

It's not perfect, but it's a first step, right?

Stephan said...

Sorry, just stumbled on your Big Question post. I disagree entirely. A widget that inspires us to think about new things more deeply is extremly useful.