“…pessimists may be paying too little attention to the strength of the underlying economic and social forces that generate innovation in the modern world. Invention was once the province of the isolated scientist or tinkerer. The transmission of new ideas and the adaptation of the best new insights to commercial uses were slow and erratic. But all of that is changing radically. We live on a planet that is becoming richer and more populous, and in which not only the most advanced economies but also large emerging market nations like China and India increasingly see their economic futures as tied to technological innovation. In that context, the number of trained scientists and engineers is increasing rapidly, as are the resources for research being provided by universities, governments, and the private sector. Moreover, because of the Internet and other advances in communications, collaboration and the exchange of ideas take place at high speed and with little regard for geographic distance. For example, research papers are now disseminated and critiqued almost instantaneously rather than after publication in a journal several years after they are written. And, importantly, as trade and globalization increase the size of the potential market for new products, the possible economic rewards for being first with an innovative product or process are growing rapidly. In short, both humanity’s capacity to innovate and the incentives to innovate are greater today than at any other time in history.”-Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve
Yet again, this blog has been quiet for quite some time. This time it’s different, though. Yes, I’ve been terribly busy, but terribly busy doing something where being exhausted kind of feels nice. As I may have already told you, I’ve been taking part in Desmeem, a three-month design workshop that brings together Lebanese and European designers (and one political science student), to use human-centered design for a social cause.
Designers do things differently, and dare I say, they do it better. Particularly this kind of design, loves to listen to people, and when I say “loves”, I say it in bold. They’re also very creative, and have a knack at visualizing the problems they’re dealing with. So we took to the streets, conducted open-ended interviews and workshops, and brainstormed until we ran out of post-its (we never do, by the way).
Looking back, it was the toughest and most excruciating experience of my still very short life. But it was also the most amazing. Not only was I pushed to my physical and mental limits, I also got to meet some pretty incredible people, and do some pretty cool stuff.
Fast forward three months and 72 Red Bulls later, and you get to see what we’ve been up to. That’s right, it’s Beirut Design Week, and it already started!
Beirut Design Week is Lebanon’s first ever Design Week and caters to more than 50 design events in the period of one week. How does our project fit in to all this?
Well, our team, Project Nawaret, designed this awesome device that puts energy consumption in your hands, and when you’ll see it, you’ll know exactly how beneficial such a device could be. To know more about our project, pass by us at the Ministry of Tourism in Hamra at any time from 9-8 pm until this week. And if you want to get a more thorough explanation of our solution, and the importance of design in solving our problems, we’ll be giving a talk at AltCity tomorrow at 6 pm. Here’s the link to the Facebook event of our Desmeem Talk.
See you soon, :)
Friends, colleagues, and family,
What I have to tell you, you already know. A few days ago, the arrest of Shadi Al Mawlawi resulted in vicious clashes in Tripoli between Sunnis, Alawites, and the Lebanese Army. Yesterday, Sheikh Ahmad Abdul-Wahed, a prominent anti-Assad preacher was shot dead at army checkpoint in Akkar, only adding fuel to the fire. Since then, tensions have reached Beirut, and our city once again laid witness to roadblocks, riots, gunshots, and RPG fire.
This really worries me, as our beautiful country has a tendency to suddenly descend into chaos, which is something that is, by the second, becoming more and more likely.
As voices of hatred and violence are dominating our television screens, a responsibility dawns upon us to speak for everyone who wishes for our country to remain at peace. Which is why I was happy to see this call to action: https://www.facebook.com/events/238605289582045/
Seeing this has inspired me to take action of my own. That is, to try, and make this event viral, and to make sure that news stations are talking about this come 8pm, tomorrow. And here’s where I need your help. I need you to come, and I need you to tell everyone who is concerned to come, as well. And if you care to do more, here’s how:
Attend the event, and share it.
Make one of the two pictures attached below your profile pictures.
Tweet and Retweet. Hashtag: #PeaceInLebanon
I’d also love to get the attention of @HaririSaad, @Najib_Mikati, so tweeting the hell out of them would be good, too!
Thank you all for the listen and for your time,
Before you go out tonight, before you head to BO18, sporting those Ray Bans you know you need in an underground nightclub, before you wear those Louis Vuittons that will definitely get the attention of your frienemy and bff, please think of this.
30 years ago, this could have been, and might have been your father. Needless to say more, but I will.
On this day, 37 years ago, our parents and grandparents started something pretty perverted. They started murdering people, kidnapping them, raping them, and doing cruel, cruel things to their bodies, or simply watched as all this happened. And this went on for a time-span of 15 whole years.
But what really gets me riled is that all this didn’t stop. It happened again in 2006 and 2008. It also happened in 1958, and goes as far as back as 1840 and 1860.
So, before you start sipping on champagne, and planning for Eddes Sands tomorrow, I’d like you to please wonder, as I still do, why this happened and why this continues, however different it is today. You may think of you have all the answers, whether you are a Secularist, Communist, Phallangist, or Islamist, and I will probably disagree, as I don’t either. But if you do, by all means, don’t you think you have a responsibility to share your answers?
I know Prague is beautiful, and I know London is where you truly belong, but maybe the future of the place we’ve grown up in deserves some interest, too?
Friends, habibis, colleagues, readers, and all-round MC’s,
As announced, I’m taking part in Desmeem, a three-month problem-solving adventure with really intelligent designers, dedicated to making good things happen. We’re divided into teams that deal with specific problems Lebanon is facing. My team is dealing with Energy and Water, but commonly refer to ourselves as “TEAM” with an emphatic voice and a Captain Planet gesture. You can check us out here.
Anywho, as I sit here thinking about tangible aspects we can tackle, I remember the importance of the human-centered approach in the design process. I really want to know what problems matter to you most when it comes to Energy and/or Water. Also, what are the problems you think are most important to the needs of not you, but the Lebanese that are deeply affected by such problems?
*: The Holla Back process would be most appreciated if it could happen in the comment section below, hopefully getting a conversation started.
“Activists” and “social entrepreneurs” like myself take great pleasure in the projects we pursue. Most of the time, it seems we’re going for what’s cute. We make installations here, protests there, and awareness campaigns on weekends. The media and the blogosphere then flatter us for a day or a week, but when the dust settles, what do we have in our hands? What have we truly offered? In this sense, change requires a bit of radicalism. It requires an “I want to change this, and I will” mentality, rather than (one of my least favorite phrases) “I want to raise awareness”.
In some sense, we need to look at the problem we’re dealing with as the enemy, and need to be uncompromising in its deletion. Otherwise, what’s the point?