BarnRaise Day 2 Recap! Let the building commence!

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Is there any better way to start a morning? Three exhilarating talks by Komal Kirtikar, Charles Adler, and Rob Moore! 

Komal Kirtikar

Komal kicked off the speaking sessions with an overview of Lyft and a great model of the 4P's: People, Process, Product, and Politics, which she went into detail. She challenged the group to think about product- what types of products and ideas will challenge and build the P2P networks and sharing economy? I was excited to see how sharing a car has turned into a vibrant community of drivers, initiate the share-out of stories, and supportive environment for users and drivers alike. I'm interested to see how Lift Line changes narratives around current models as well.

Rob Moore

Rob, an alumni from our school (which we loved to see return!) shared some unexpected insights into urban safety in an open source world. He described that meaningful decisions don't necessarily make something desirable, and had a great quote about how "artifacts are like props in a play". He challenged the group to consider three areas as they affect ideas:

  • Value Proposition: What's the tradeoff for design decisions? What do you gain? What do you loose?
  • How do you measure the value of possessions... especially if they're intangible. He described a 2x2 matrix of different combinations of objects: 
    • Tangible with intangible value (like a picture frame with a old picture of your grandmother)
    • Tangible with tangible value (typical items, best fit for current insurance models, like jewelry)
    • Intangible items with tangible value (like business information/data storage or a twitter account username... people pay money for those! Look at the distance companies will go to keep their data secure!)
    • Intangible items with intangible value (like your reputation or personal brand... incredibly important but hard to measure)
  • How do you develop and consider risk pools? In insurance, risk pools are developed with basically one big pool and analytic tools to determine how much each person throws in ($$). What if we could create models similar to traditional risk pools- the idea that everyone in a community chips in for a neighbor when he's in need...but if he cries wolf or uses the support inappropriately, he may be less likely to be helped in the future (therefore kind of kicking him out of the risk pool). An interesting idea going forward within teams as they think about who's affected and the impacts of their designs.

Charles Adler

Oh man, Charles threw us for an inspirational and potentially unexpected loop during the last morning session. He asked the audience if they wanted to hear the presentation he had prepared or a "choose your own adventure" presentation. Most chose the latter, so we journeyed together through casual stories about his discoveries, his friend who was "Lulled to sleep by employment" and the idea of taking risks. His call to action, in my perspective, was about viewing risk in different ways. He initially described risk as an "oh shit" moment of jumping off a cliff (and hoping your parachute opens), and eventually shared a second short clip of a girl balancing on a curb, to imply it's not as scary as you may have initially thought (end very powerful message that I, as the MC could barely follow).

And then they were off!

Despite the damp weather, teams spread out in Chicago to ideate at design firms, an innovation center, and at the home base of the Institute of Design. Several teams went out for contextual research, interviews, and on-site visits. During the afternoon, some broke out into smaller groups to generate fresh ideas. Others collectively discussed central ideas and answered crucial questions, like, " How will this matter to the user? Is it truly desirable?" Many participants pitched concepts for the problem space to one another and the larger teams as well. By 5pm the rooms had evolved from blank slates to colorful post-it covered whiteboards that were full of ideas.

What is all of this becoming? 

A quick look at some sketches say it all. 


Day 2  unfolded with high energy and a mountain of progress, and a good amount of work was done. "If only there were more time!!" was a common exclamation... not unlike a hack-a-thon (which is what we informally modeled our make-a-thon after!) That said, it's certainly a good note for next year! We'll definitely be looking at ways to improve the experience the next year around- remember, this make-a-thon is about building prototypes... but BarnRaise itself is a prototype as well!


IIT Institute of Design, 350 N LaSalle St, Chicago, IL, 60654, United States