Do you want someone to make you think? An inspirational speaker who’ll get you considering what we all buy, watch and do and how and why we do it? Or someone to illuminate the social aims, Linked and Open Data practices, and technology behind Historypin?
A number of our team are available as speakers. They have spoken at a range of events, including Tedx talks and SXSW, as well as addressing companies, organisations, and institutions including npower, the British Council, Google, Intel Ireland, Liberty Global, Stanford University and Columbia University.
Below is a summary of a few of the topics we speak on, though all of our talks are bespoke and designed so that they are relevant to the attending audience. Do get in touch to discuss your event and how we can help you.
Products as vehicles for behaviour change
Products shape more of human behavior that we could ever have imagined. Physical objects, digital tools and consumer services are chosen, bought and used in their billions, by billions of us, everyday. But the potential of products to make us participants in social change and progress is mostly untapped. Designers have been adding bits of good onto products for a long-time – charitable donations, eco offsets, fair trade commitments – but there is much more that can be built right into the middle of products, in the very way they are used. They are the heartlands of human behaviour and amazing vehicles for new, positive habits. As well as taking a look at some high profile examples, from Skype to Wii, we will walk through a method of social creativity that can help generate a stream of useful, desirable products with the potential to transform behaviours and affect major social issues, incidentally.
- What are the limits of simply telling people to do the right thing?
- What can be learnt from behavioural economics about how we behave around products?
- How can we influence people’s Automatic as well as, or instead of, the Reflective part of their brains by creating useful, desirable products?
- How can we make products that do not require the user to have a pre-disposition to “do good”.
- How can we design a process that takes a social or environmental issue and works through the necessary steps to create a product whose use has a major positive effect on the issue?
- How can we incentivise “good” behaviours?
- What existing products have positive behaviours built into their design? Were the positive behaviours intentional or fortuitous side effects? What can be learnt and borrowed from case studies such as Skype, Wii, Zip Car, Historypin and Boris Bikes when designing new products?
- How should we market products with positive behaviours built in?
The role of individuals in tackling social and environmental issues
The role individuals can play in effecting social change has been at the heart of We Are What We Do’s work for the last 7 years. In our founding paper we acknowledged how declining rates in participation in an identifiable community has damaged the health of the individual (mental illness, isolation) the health of neighbourhood (crime rates) and the health of wider society (e.g. voter turnout, engagement in national problems) as social capital is depleted. Globalisation and the rise of protective states have meant as individuals we feel more distant from social and environmental issues and feel less responsibility for environmental and social issues. This trend towards more individualistic behavioural norms in politics, culture and society have been well documented, perhaps most notably by Robert Putnam.
Our work shows how individuals can make a major positive contribution to global issues through their everyday behaviour. The cumulative impact of all the decisions we make everyday profoundly shapes our own lives, those around us and society as a whole.
We also acknowledge there are limits in simply telling people to do the right thing and get more involved in their communities. We Are What We Do’s approach advocates finding cleverer ways to get people to do positive things – by creating useful and desirable things that subconsciously facilitate positive behaviours, that do not require the user to have a pre-disposition to “do good”.
- How can we build new behaviours into people’s everyday lives at work, school or in public spaces?
- How can we engage more people than the usual keen beans in Social Responsibility?
- How can we make positive behaviours integral to a business’s output, rather than a contrived add-on, by harnessing what is already being done everyday and adapting it?
- How can charities and not-for-profits make sure their hard work and limited budgets are used most effectively by empowering large communities, and not the 1% club
- How can we identify the everyday behaviours that contribute to a major issue?
- How can we identify the barriers to positive behaviours?
- How can we incentivise “good” behaviours?
- What existing products have positive behaviours built into their design? What can be learnt and borrowed from case studies?
Historypin: A global archive of human history
Historypin is a way for millions of people to come together, from across different generations, cultures and places, to share small glimpses of the past and to build up the story of their communities. Launched in 2011 in partnership with Google, Historypin has established itself as a place where citizen historians and libraries, archives and museums meet and collaborate to create, enrich and explore our cultural heritage.
Depending on the audience and its specific area of interest this talk can cover:
- The founding aims of Historypin, the story of how it has developed, future plans
- The technology behind Historypin; working with Google App engine, dealing with large amounts of data, designing for both 14 year olds and grannies
- The social impact Historypin is having, including bringing neighbourhoods together around local history, bridging online and offline interactions in digital storytelling, encouraging inter-generational contact, making the telling of history more democratic, applications in schools, community groups and care homes.
- An introduction to Linked Open Data. How this is being used to conserve and open up global archives for everyone to enjoy, learn from and improve; the crucial role libraries, archives and museums play; the cultural, legal and technical context and implications; the possibilities of such data for scholarly research, preservation, commercial interests, case studies.
- How communities can best be used to make content and data more accurate by online and offline crowdsourcing models