A Focus Group on Education, Tools and Accessibility

Lots of thoughts on designing tools to be more accessible and available to a wider audience. Lots of talk about Education. Teaching. Designing the fear out of technology. Making things that are useful to the widest possible audience.

How do we introduce people to the web, and what does that mean? What types of jobs do people need, and can ‘the web’ be helpful in creating jobs or creating entrepreneurs out of the jobless?

One guy made a statement saying that jobs are out there, they are just different than they used to be, and our job is to do what we can to help people adapt to new opportunities. And where there are no opportunities, we need to be helping to create them.

I pointed out that within the design community the focus is always on the successes or faults in the design of our tools, when they should be on the substance of the tools and what people get out of them. Ultimately, people will use what ever crappy little tool you give them as long as it produces results that matter (e.g. Craigslist, thumb drives, drudge report).

So what does it take to make doers and makers out of people? One of the ways is through cross collaboration and education with other fields of work. What can the auto industry learn from the web community, and in turn what can the web community learn from the auto industry. Obviously, you can take any industry and substitute it for the auto industry in that statement. But as you do, ask yourself what is similar between fields of work? What is similar about the ways people communicate in those fields of work, and what are the natural dynamics that make those fields successful, and how can the web help to facilitate those exchanges.

Near the end of the 40 min session, one woman made a comment saying that we are the fortunate ones for having chosen or fallen into a field of work that is full of possibility, growth and opportunity. I wanted to point out to her that as designers, we are always in a the fortunate position of being on the receiving end of someone else’s fortune. When we work with clients, they are in a state of growth and opportunity. They are not only in a place where they want to spend money, but they want to see their hopes and dreams fulfilled in some way. This is not the case in most lines of work. (This thought is borrowed from my wife – not my original thought!)