2019-11-11

    Thesis: Two possibilities

    Last week in class, me, Lillian, Veronica and Idith were assigned as a group. Taking one's ideal topic as a keystone and branching out from it, we helped each other to explore the idea by drawing mind map, brainstorming and discussion.

    For me, though I already knew my topic "Mindset / Turning thinking into action" was way too broad and vague, the practice reminded me again how terribly huge the topic was. So I went through all the notes we had on the cards and paper, forcing myself to filter something out from it, narrowing the topic down faster.

    Mind map by group Mind map by group

    System change v.s. Direct service

    I couldn't get too much out of the words. Fortunately, I've been taking Social Innovation Design class, which I thought would be helpful for thesis idea development; and it turns out to be true! Taught by Lyel Resner, the class invites one guest speaker every week, sharing experience and thoughts from their projects and life. The talks guide me to think about, or sometimes answer, my questions. Amazing.

    The day after last week's thesis class, the guest speaker in Social Innovation Design was Laura Wedinman Powers, Co-Founder of Code2040, Head of Impact of Echoing Green, and Entrepreneur-in-Residence of NMV. In her talk, she talked about her choice to work in these organizations, which all share the same mission to make positive impacts by helping and investing in possible game-changers.

    She claimed this as an approach to make SYSTEM CHANGE, instead of DIRECT SERICE, which could be delivering food or doctoring in poor areas. It's not that direct service is not important or useless, but making system change is what she wants to do.

    And this is what I've always been thinking about as well. I didn't coin the term as system change, but this is what "Mindset / Turning thinking into action" in my head is.

    Two possibilities

    Based on the mind map and the epiphanic knowing of system change, I drew a mind map again. This one helped me to narrow my topic down, brining me two possible rough ideas to work on.

    My mind map My mind map

    1. Communication app between groups with opposing ideologies

    People with different opinions might fail to understand each other, because of a lack of communication. Most of the time, if we had chance to talk with people on the other side, even it didn't change our belief, we understand and respect others.

    But building an app to have this kind of conversation for generic groups of people is impossible. It will turn out to be a dating app, or a total disaster in general.

    So I want the target users of this app to have two traits. First, the ones in my echo chamber (there should be a better way to describe this). Because I'm not capable of talking to people on the other extreme side of the spectrum, but the ones sitting around the center point of which. Secondly, the ones with sincere motivation to understand others. This app shouldn't be another Facebook, Twitter or Tinder, filled with violence and unhealthy conflicts. So a high bar should be set, allowing only ones with good intention.

    Technically, I have no idea how to achieve this yet. But it's an option.

    2. Code-learning platform for graphic designers

    Yes, another platform to teach code. I know.

    This one is targeted at graphic designers, which is a group of people (at least the ones I know) that cares a lot about the social and environmental issues. But most of the time, graphic designers are standing at a more passive position, using power of visual language to make impacts as a protest happens, or dependent on client's requirement.

    My motivation to learn coding as a graphic designer was moving to a more active position, and I believe a lot of graphic designers here in ITP shared the same motivation. Learning to code provides me ability to create works with higher broadcasting efficiency, such as websites, apps or interactive data visualizations. But more importantly, knowledge of programming makes me standing at an more active position to understand techs in life, enabling me to be more critical and aware of impacts of which.

    Following week

    In the following week, I'll research and think more about these two topics. Ideally to have a list of advantages, difficulties and questions for making a final choice of topic in future weeks.