News junkie. Bad jokes lover. Travel enthusiast. And of course, a caffeine dependent individual.
Last weekend, I read an article about Indonesian elections and the representation of women in political parties. It appears that there is a rule that requires all political parties to be made up of 30% women.
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“It was an admirable goal: In 2004, bowing to pressure from women’s groups, Indonesia began requiring all political parties to field 30 prcent women candidates. But it hasn’t quite worked out as planned. In Wednesday’s parliamentary election, candidates include a former Miss Indonesia, five former models, at least eight actresses, and nine singers. Googling their names may bring up “leaked” nude photos, swimsuit or lingerie ads, and softcore sex scenes. The Indonesian parties that recruit these sexy celebrity women as their candidates believe that their famous faces and public notoriety will win votes in a country where name recognition is low and campaign posters remain the best way of reaching voters.”
The quota system – in my opinion – seems to very often miss the point. I’m definitely an advocate for taking the first step to improving an issue, and I understand that these types of rules originate from good intentions. However, the approach is fundamentally broken and lacks long-term vision because it’s not based on meritocracy. If women have traditionally been under-represented in politics, one could argue that it’s difficult to find representatives that do have the “merit” or background, and that’s a fair point. Although I still believe that quota shouldn’t be enforced without a credible screening/ shortlisting process. With that said, the article ends on an encouraging note.
“Writing off celebrity candidates as shallow or unfit for office, Satriyo argues, misses a crucial point about the entry of such women into Indonesian politics: Some rise to the occasion and perform well in office. Without the quota system, they might not have had the chance. Rieke Diah Pitaloka and Nurul Arifin, now parliamentarians, were both actresses who transformed themselves into well-respected politicians. “They reached out to their constituents, reached out to civil society, and tried to understand the important issues,” Satriyo said. She credits such women for “seizing the opportunity provided by the quota to make a difference…We need these kinds of women in parliament to make changes.”
Read full article here.
It was brought to my attention through the “100 Happy Days” project that everyone seems to be doing on Instagram that we are already one hundred days into 2014. That is incredible. I thought I’d do a little photo montage recap which made me realise that I really do wish I took more photos, but I’ve been retreating from it for the simple reason that it feels like everyone is constantly taking photos. It’s overwhelming to live life where you feel like you’ve always got to take a photo to prove it.
Last night I got into bed and something possessed me to get out and dig up my dad’s hand-me-down SLR, which I initially used to take photos as a teenager. I’ve got to replace the batteries and then am planning to return to the simpler ways (i.e. film) to rekindle my love for photography. It’s been recurring theme in my actions lately; I’ve been drawn back to the basics, picking up magazines and newspapers in lieu of my Twitter feed, spending the weekend facing a book instead of a screen. Nothing beats paper, seriously.
On a lighter note and to save myself from really going off on a tangent, life has really been splendid and maybe I don’t have quite enough photos of all the moments, but they are unfolding everyday and it’s been a great 100 days.
I just read the article Beyond Buy-One-Give-One Retail on The New Yorker. The excerpt below really stood out to me:
"Critics such as Valeria Budinich, one of the leaders of Ashoka, a nonprofit that advises companies on social responsibility, have noted that Toms’s product donations do little to address the root causes of poverty. Giving children shoes may enable them to attend school, but those children may still go hungry at night. Some have argued that Toms’s donations may actually cause harm, by reducing demand for locally produced goods. If Toms gives free shoes to people in Ghana, could that kill off local shoe stores? Adriana Herrera, the founder of the social enterprise Fashioning Change, has argued that Toms’s business model depends on the continued existence of recipients who cannot afford its products; in other words, it requires the persistence of poverty.
"Those children may still go hungry at night." - Why does this counter-argument always surface when anyone tries to do something good? It comes across as, "if you can’t change everything, don’t try to do anything."
"Continued recipients who cannot afford its products; in other words, it requires the persistence of poverty" - This is a fair point, however I’d really like to believe that companies like TOMS do what they do more out of good intention and not solely because they want to build their business model.
I’ve seen children and families after families sleep out on pavements in the streets of Calcutta. It’s a scene so vivid and it makes your heart sink. And the sad truth, but one that’s particularly difficult to comprehend is that this is the reality for billions of people in the world.
And among these, there are people who need things, those that lack the most basic necessities. We can’t solve the issue of poverty by just donating things and not empowering people to change their circumstances. But we also can’t just focus on the latter without paying attention to and improving their immediate and short-term needs and conditions. It’s an act of balance.
So I would say, if a person or company is helping out someone in need in the way they know how and they’re actually doing some good, let them.
Maybe I unknowingly indulge in uncertainty. Maybe we all do. Maybe because the unknown things in life allow us to ask the big questions, dig deep and indulge in a bit of introspection. The idea of tomorrow is ambiguous to me. It contradicts all the certainty I’ve ever known. The future relies on both intuition and careful thought, and it’s precisely that which makes it so exciting.
From an interview with designer/artist/soul searcher Elle Luna:
So I was using Uber all the time in San Francisco, even though I hated the design. And then I went to the Crunchies awards ceremony and at a post-ceremony event, where I was in a ball gown, I saw the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick, sitting at the bar. I was three whiskeys deep at this point and I walked up to him and said, “I use Uber all the time and I absolutely hate the app. I think you should bring me in to fix it.” He replied, “Oh, yeah? What are the three things you’d fix about it?” I said, “I’d redo the logo, redo the entire app, and change the rating system.” I think there was something about being in a dress that empowered me to say such things (laughing). And do you know what he said? He said, “Be at the Uber office at 9am on Monday.” I told him I couldn’t do it alone and he said he’d have a team for me.
I thought the offer was bogus, but I went to Uber’s office on Monday at 9am, laughing to myself, and Travis led me back to a project room with two other designers—they were from outside of Uber and he had flown them in from New York! We took on the Uber app and redesigned it in three weeks. In fact, one of the guys he flew in from New York, Shalin Amin, ended up staying on full-time. The app is gorgeous and last night it won the Fast Company 2013 Innovation By Design Awards for the transportation category, beating out Mars Rover and Tesla.
Most people want to be fit, most people aren’t.
Most people want to build a successful business, most people won’t.
Most people want to be the best version of themselves, most people aren’t.
Most people have dreams they want to fulfill, most people won’t.
Everyone wants to quit something, build something, be something, do something. Most people won’t.
How many things have we wanted? How many opportunities have we craved? How many broken things have we wanted to fix?
And how many of those have we shrunk from. Hid from. Or, excused away.
We’re not alone.
Most people won’t.
But every once in a while someone puts themselves out there. Makes the leap. Faces rejection or failure or worse. And comes out the other side. Better. Changed. Bolder.
Most people won’t. Which means those that do change everything.
I’m pretty sure Cameron preformed at my Year 11 dinner dance. He’s come such a long way since, I’m totally obsessed and can’t wait to hear more of his music!
Learning about the concept of “design thinking” has completely transformed the way I think about everything. It’s made me stop using the excuse “that’s just the way it is” when things are complicated, annoying, inefficient, and not user-friendly. Instead, I can’t help but think: how can we re-frame this? How can we improve it if we put people at the centre of everything?
A great example – and the talk that really got me thinking about design thinking in a deep way was given by Josh Reich at the 99u conference. He’s the founder of Simple, a bank built on the premise that traditional banks suck and are not designed for people. Anyone that’s ever dealt with a bank knows this to be true.
So anyway, I’ve been thinking about design thinking and its application in education. I’ve always really loved learning. Yet when I think back to university, there were only really a handful of classes that REALLY excited me and made me feel like a learner.
And that’s because most classes consisted of a one-way monologue in which the textbook is re-iterated in bullet points on a presentation made five years ago. Often “interaction” means questions with one standard answer, instead of questions that make you think really hard about context and consideration.
It was the multiple-choice exams that really didn’t sit well with me. Memorising a bunch of information seems so ancient to me in the day and age where the education trends are all about critical thinking, deep understanding and being able to articulate something in your own words. (Hello IB learner profile.)
So imagine, if we put students at the centre when designing classes? How could we design classes that will excite students, make them feel like learners, and help them remember the lesson 5 years from now?
How cool would it be if we sat down and spoke to a bunch of students from different backgrounds? If we spoke to their parents, friends, siblings, their teachers from high school, mentors, previous employers, etc. Imagine the quality of input. Then decoding it, building personas around different personalities and truly understanding the diversity of students.
We could figure out the different types of people that study at a particular university, identifying clusters within that degree and courses. And finally, design classes based on this new understanding to help students get the most out of their classes.
For example: The basic accounting course that every Business student has to take.
From the top of my head, I remember these distinct personalities. There are students who:
1. Are really keen, want to be professional accountants and work for a big four.
2. Could not care less, but they are taking the class because it’s required. They find the course incredibly dry and are not interested in learning anything about it.
3. Are interested. They like numbers and think this course has potential and go in with an open mind.
Now imagine the classes we could design around this once we have a deep understanding of the different types of students that are taking this class.
The keen group would get accounting in full force. I imagine them wanting practice problems. The class could have discussions around current accounting-related news and case studies.
Those who couldn’t care less need to be shown why accounting holds a required class status. I imagine this class to have lots of open discussions around “WHY” something is important, followed with lots of scenarios and examples. The teacher could include funny examples, it’s always a good way to get people interested.
We wouldn’t have to arrange different classes for different people; the beauty is use a range of different methods (instead of a monologue) to make sure we’re engaging all the different types of students.
Of course there are a lot of teachers that already do this. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some amazing teachers along the the way that really did design their courses with the students at the centre of it. And I’d like for this to be an upward trend. There is so much potential to turn students into learners. We could probably replace the dread most students feel during finals with an understated excitement for having been to some of the most amazing and engaging classes.
Every once in a while — often when we least expect it — we encounter someone more courageous, someone who choose to strive for that which (to us) seemed unrealistically unattainable, even elusive. And we marvel. We swoon. We gape. Often , we are in awe. I think we look at these people as lucky, when in fact, luck has nothing to do with it. It is really about the strength of their imagination; it is about how they constructed the possibilities for their Life. In short, unlike me, they didn’t determine what was impossible before it was even possible.