The long road to México Verifica

I remember the first feedback that Beth gave me about my initial “problem”: “Is this PolitiFact on Steroids?” she asked. I was really mad because… she had a point. After all, I had proposed a fact-checking-in-real-time project (whatever that meant exactly). What was the problem I wanted to solve? I had jumped right into a “solution” without thinking about the actual issue. If it was the rapidness of fact-checking, Twitter already did that.

Gov3.0 taught me to be patient, to spend more time actually thinking about the problem rather than going ahead with the “solution”. To do extensive research, to talk to people from different backgrounds, to don’t be afraid of realizing that maybe there is no problem… or maybe the problem already has a solution.

The problem that I decided to tackle was falsehoods in politics and how to reduce them. Soon I realized that this idea would need to be rethought. Beth put me in contact with founder of PolitiFact Bill Adair, who provided me with amazing insights about lies. Here I discussed this conversation. In summary, he said that people should have the right to lie. What? “No,” I thought, “Politicians and public officials shouldn’t lie.” He convinced me pretty easily: restricting the right to lie would imply restricting the freedom of speech, which is at the heart of democratic governments. Thus, politicians should be able to lie. Disagreement promotes deliberation and discussion. And, if citizens are well informed, it helps to identify those actors we shouldn’t elect. These, in turn, impose disincentives to lying, which might help reduce falsehoods. Hence, the problem was the lack of specific fact-checking mechanisms in Mexico that could identify lies and give this information to citizens.

Here I started thinking about the solution. What sort of mechanism should it be? I was, and still am convinced that the way PolitiFact works is great. Staff writers do research about the accuracy of a statement. Later, a team, or jury, get together and they deliberate over the final ruling: True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False, or Pants-on-fire. As a communications scholar, I think that lack of fact-checking in journalism is a big issue and a way to solve it is to provide better tools to journalists. I initially proposed a solution that followed a similar workflow as PolitiFact. Planned as a collaborative endeavor with a news media organization in Mexico, my project would rely also on the work of journalists to do the research and check the accuracy of statements. It was a good model, an OK model. But, how could I leverage it with the skills I learned in class?

Gov3.0 helped me take the project further and reimaging it. Citizens have expertise in multiple issues. The work of government shouldn’t reside only in elected officials and bureaucrats: top-down governance no longer applies. Collaborative democracy is urgent, and needed to bring legitimacy to decision-making. Government institutions, public policy problems, and outdated programs are being revamped by the potential of technology and the collaboration of people working outside of government. This could and should apply to different sectors.

That is how I approached my problem. Fact-checking shouldn’t be done only by the experts, or by journalists or the news media. We, as citizens, should build and develop our watchdog capacities. We already engage in fact-checking through a plethora of social networks. We share links that provide an alternate perspective to an issue or post official reports that inform about the success or failure of a government program. We share links to videos with the latest declarations of government officials and add sound data that supports or contradicts these statements. But we do it in such disperse ways that is proves difficult to localize the final ruling.

México Verifica, a fact-checking citizen platform that I propose as a solution to the lack of fact-checking projects in Mexico, aims to provide clear and succinct data regarding the accuracy of political statements. It will do so with the help of citizens: self-selected users that want to participate in political debate and that have the expertise and knowledge to do so. It will do so by encouraging people to collaborate and to be informed, to listen, watch and read the news with healthy skepticism.

There are still many obstacles to overcome. Many skills I must acquire. The platform must be tested and compared against the work of journalists to prove its effectiveness. I don’t know if the information originated through the platform will be, in fact, what I’m looking for: what if it turns out to be an opinion space where people go to empty their political bias instead of a place where to found sound hard data? I hope that the design will ultimately prevent this from happening. There are similar projects out there that have proved successful. I wish the same for México Verifica.

·          A short description of México Verifica can be downloaded here:

México Verifica One Pager by Daniel Soto Morfín

·         A Prezi presentation can be seen here: http://prezi.com/zxpjn5d5efx3/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

·         I can be contacted by email: daniel.soto@nyu.edu or Twitter: @danielsmorfin

PB Youth Lead the Change in Boston

As the ED  for a unique network of philanthropic-minded CEOs, one of my most important goals is to ensure the group feels connected and engaged with the organization and with each other.  For the Gov 3.0 class, I have chosen to focus on a similar challenge, community organizing through Participatory Budgeting.  What drew me to PB? Participatory Budgeting empowers citizens to make informed decisions about public spending by opening up government budgets to meaningful (and binding) democratic participation.  As I write this blog, the City of Boston is working with the Mayor’s Youth Council and Boston Centers for Youth and Family to join the participatory budgeting bandwagon with an innovative twist:  youth will directly decide how to spend $1 million of the city’s capital budget. Our guest speaker Hollie Gilman wrote about the process recently.  Ideas were posted on Citizinvestor and projects range from graffiti to beautify rundown areas of the city to “Another chance at high school” for single/teen parents who dropped out to take care of their kids.

To give PB an opportunity to flourish in Boston and to teach youth the value of their participation, an online and offline campaign has been in place from the start.  #youthleadthechange is the twitter hash tag being used for the process and there are posts on facebook and photos on instagram.  Given the Gov 3.0 focus on using technology to solve problems and re-imagine democracy, my research in class has focused specifically on the SMS campaign which began thanks to the support of PBP and the mobile messaging company Mobile Commons. ICT tools can work to their advantage, but without the right language and incentives, the citywide experiment with PB could deliver underwhelming results. As communications adviser to PBP, I joined the team devising the texts that would be sent out to youth in Boston. Having focused on learning how to navigate the messaging platform, further attention to the written messages was needed.  

Youth are not interested in working for PB but they could get excited and volunteer to help out if they understood how being part of the process could benefit them. Thus, making sure the messages were personalized and the language focused on “making democracy fun”, the campaign would have a stronger chance to succeed.  Following this input, the response rates went from 5% (first campaign) to around 15% (second campaign), and almost half of their RSVPs for the assembly meeting came by text.  An incredible improvement in a short period of time!   Moving forward, the goal is to test different campaign language and improving communication between in-person meetings.  

Marina 5-6-14

 

GCdesign Mentor Stories

Since GCDesign is a team of people, each with their own history, who came together for this course we thought we’d each share our personal insights on who we’ve reached out to and how these mentors have helped shaped our problem and the path that we’re on towards our goal.  As you will notice we rely on each other to share conversations and learnings. Being part of a team allows us to play to our strengths, learn from each other and have a broader reach than we could ever have had as individuals.

Laura: When the team considered pitching the GCDesign Studio as part of an internal process to discover new ways of working within government, we first looked for people from whom we could learn. We discovered a senior manager had proposed a similar endeavour a few years before.  I consider it a sign of her belief in the concept and personal maturity that she did not discourage our efforts as so many may have done in her position. Speaking to her led us to others who had been a part of that discussion at the time. Our understanding of the current and previous context in which the idea had been present shifted over the course of these conversations, helping us navigate personalities and complexities. One of her colleagues, when asked outright if we should abandon our efforts as something that had been tried before and failed, replied “Timing is opportunistic”. That statement of hope, strategy and realism has become my mantra on this project.

Brian: My journey into the world of design is relatively new, and my mentors for this domain are all members of the GCdesign team. That said, my journey into the concept of open policy design began in 2010 after a presentation from Christian Bason of Mindlab. At the time, I was an MA student studying public policy responses to Canada’s ageing demographics, but Christian’s talk piqued my interest and I wanted to learn more about how Mindlab worked. I was curious about it’s methods and how, through ethnography, this public entity was drastically improving the lives of its citizens in a way that macro-policy and quantitative analysis were not. I soon shifted my research to this domain entirely.

I emailed Christian a few months later when I was working on a new project related to ethnography. As my schoolwork increasingly shifted towards user-centric research methods and open policy, he and I exchanged a number of other emails related to my coursework. Following these brief semesters with exchanges, I changed subjects once again sensing that the timing was not right for this sort of project in Canada.

Three years later, with what seems like growing appetite for the idea of user-centric driven policy, the landscape has shifted and connections are happening with a number of key influential players. Working with GCdesign teammates and given the opportunity to lay the groundwork for the creation of our own departmental “MindLab”, I’ve once again connected with Christian, recruiting him as an ally to provide feedback on success factors for the lab. At the same time, departmental colleagues have invited me to participate in conversations with researchers at NESTA, while fellow GCdesign members have created connections with MaRs, and other key players - both internal and external - in this emerging and exciting scene.

Blaise: When it comes to design’s thinking I have a good friend & colleague who I use as my sounding board before I launch into any process design. He’s always been great at pushing me to challenge my assumptions and to think about arguing the counterpoints. I’ve been keeping him aware about this project and the larger quest for policy innovation in government as a whole for quite some time now. When I asked him for feedback as part of this post, he laughed and said that he liked the original pitch but it was missing certain elements that come before the design process can even begin. For him, the following four parts are integral to the success of a design lab endeavor:

  1. To start by seeking a thorough understanding of the system in which the policy/program/service already exists.

  2. Explicitly lay out all the complexity by identifying all the actors, relationships and their potential actions in the space.

  3. Consider the future of the system, exploring the different ways of how the policy/program/service could change it, by building scenarios.

  4. Above all, have senior executives engaged at the beginning and throughout the process well into delivery (like the UK Foresight model or Mindlab).

Meghan: One of the biggest things I’ve gained from my time in Gov 3.0 so far is a true appreciation for the power of networks (both technological and human). Through such networks I’ve had the chance to connect and collaborate with some amazing people as well as take part in some awesome opportunities. One of those recent connections was with Joeri van den Steenhoven, the Director of the MaRS Solutions Lab in Toronto and all-around inspiring leader in the field of public sector innovation.

Thanks to the power of sharing and technology I was able to learn a lot about the work that Joeri and his team have been doing in the sphere of systems change and design thinking, all of which is incredibly valuable to know as we embark on our own adventures in the same field. I’ve also been able to share this knowledge with the rest of my team. Through this connection, we’re already exploring opportunities for collaboration and training with Joeri and his team that will help get our first projects off to an excellent start. I can’t wait to see what other new connections are on the horizon!

Rubina: When it comes to mentors, my mentors are in the GC Design group. I am lucky enough to learn and grow from them every day. I have however discussed GC Design with my friends and family where I’ve noticed certain key elements need to be stated in order for them to understand what I’m talking about especially since many of them don’t have experience in the government or in design thinking.

I need to simplify the problem: Not enough user research is being done when policies, programs and services are being created which results in a not so user friendly solution. Currently the end user is only being thought of at the end of the process, so they spend all this money to create something, but they don’t even know if it’s fulfilling the user need until that something is complete.

I then need to discuss an example of what a pubic problem could be such as homelessness or youth unemployment.

Then I need to discuss what GC Design hopes to do in order to change this traditional approach: GC Design hopes to shift the way the government approaches problems when it comes to policy making, services, and programs by embedding design thinking, so that every stage of the process, beginning to end, is user focused.

Usually the first reaction I get is – yes that clearly makes sense, why hasn’t it been done that way all along?  I find discussing this with friends and family helps not only spread the word, but also helps me understand the problem better, and how important user focused solutions really are.

Sage: Most people will write about talking to mentors, awesome people with big names and often blogged about thoughts. I want to share the discussions I have with my mentors, members of the user experience working group (UXWG) within the Government of Canada. The UXWG is a different beast from anything I’ve seen in the government, we’re part working group, part community of practice, part training and part mentorship depending on who is looking at us that person will see one of the side (or sides) that fit their needs. Looking back I’ve realized that this group has taught me the foundations of design thinking. Working through the problem that was placed before us different members would take the helm and lead us down the steps we needed to take in order to discover the solution. I’m so very privileged to have had that opportunity to learn from such a diverse group of people, so much so that I now am co-chair so that I can ensure that the learning, sharing, supporting and collaborating continues. Now with my new found skills I look forward to creating a space where we can use, facilitate and teach others to use design methods in their work so they too can achieve the satisfaction of solving a problem really damn well.

We want to extend a warm thank you to all those mentioned in this post. Without your time, energy and passion we would not be where we are now, at the cusp of making something happen. It’s exciting and inspiring and an excellent motivator to keep our team driving forward.

Thank you,

- GCDesign (aka Team Canada)

Falsehoods in campaigns: a different approach

Last Wednesday, I talked to Bill Adair, creator and Contributing Editor of Politifact. For those who don’t remember, my project addresses the high numbers of falsehoods in politics, especially during political campaigns. I wanted to talk to Bill about the efficiency of fact-checking as a solution to reduce falsehoods. The call was extremely enlightening. I want to highlight something he said a couple of times during our conversation:

 Politicians should be able to lie. I believe in freedom of speech; the best way to counteract falsehood is by exposing them.

Hence, the challenge is not to reduce falsehoods but to provide people with better information so that they can make better-informed decisions. This is an important game-changer for my project. After my conversation with Bill, I became aware that my approach would have several limitations.

We discussed possible legislative changes, but we both agreed that this is not a good solution. The best way to serve a democracy is guaranteeing freedom of speech. The liberty to lie is part of this freedom and it helps to promote discussion and debate. Curtailing these rights because “we don’t want people to lie” seriously damages a democracy society.  Additionally, is it really possible to differentiate what is true and what is false?

Hence, my “problem” should be how to counteract falsehoods in campaigns and provide people with the information they should have to make an informed decision. Provide arguments based on data and facts. I still want to explore the fact-checking solution as Bill gave me good insights about why it works and why it is important.

Fact-checking and good journalism are extremely necessary in a time of spinners and brevity in communication. It helps to expose the truth or present the facts. Even contextualizing the information could help to make sure that political statements are rightly understood.

I’m excited about this conversation and the course that my project is following. I did feel that reducing falsehoods was problematic but Bill helped me put words to that problem and refocus my project.

 

US DOT looking for help from the crowd

photo credit: Kristy brown

Kirk Hovenkotter

One major benefit of working at the Gov Lab is you have people like the US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx pop by to have a Civic Innovation Roundtable with 40 of the leaders in transportation innovation.

NBD. I may have danced a bit in my cube when I found out.

One of the reasons for his visit was US DOT’s Data innovation Challenge. The department is unleashing a treasure trove of data and asking for designers, developers, and transportation nerds to “to create a tool to address systemic challenges by accessing publicly-available federal and/or local DOT datasets”

The timing could not have been more perfect with the topic of this weeks class. The department is opening up its data turning to the crowd for ideas of what to do with it. They see the potential in not holding back their information and limiting how they release the data. I intend to enter a submission to the challenge, most likely building off the work I’m doing for my Gov 3.0 project. I’m working on how to align it with the competition principles of 

  1. Technical and operational feasibility
  2. Potential for widespread adoption
  3. Innovation
  4. Social benefit

I’m also willing to do it because unlike other competitions, such at the MBTA Transit Map Challenge, the USDOT will not take ownership of the idea/ visualization and is willing to pay a license fee for it’s use. I’m wary of well funded agencies taking advantage of a contest or crowdsourcing to develop content for free.

I’m looking forward to see how you all use crowd sourcing to address your policy issues.

Beyond the Data Portal

I’m a data portal skeptic. I have been for years, but I’ve gotten tripped up when trying to explain why. I’m certainly not anti open data. I’m not even anti data portal. But I worry that organizations think that setting up an open data portal is a way to make data useful, when it’s really just a small step toward that goal.

More cynically, I worry that people are setting up open data portals, holding press conferences to announce them, dusting their hands off, and moving on, confident that they can check “get open data” off their to do list.

It’s time to acknowledge that data is not made useful simply by making it available online. As we work to make data open and available, we also need to train people who can help make it accessible and useful.

Consider this scenario:

You’re doing research on transportation in Pacific Beach, a neighborhood in San Diego. You want to find out how dangerous Pacific Beach’s streets are. You heard that the city of San Diego recently launched an open data portal, so you go to it and find a database showing the locations of recently-filled potholes and streetlights. That’s it. That’s all you can find related to the streets in Pacific Beach in the city’s portal.

This is a completely hypothetical situation. San Diego doesn’t even have an open data portal (yet). But it highlights a key limitation of any data portal: it’s bound by its jurisdiction. If you’re anywhere in the city of San Diego, you’re also in San Diego County, as well as in California and the United States. Oh, and you’re also within a bi-national region that some of us call Tijuego. A city data portal, by definition, will only hold a portion of the data that might be useful to you.

Now consider this scenario:

You’re doing your research, but you’ve heard of the San Diego Regional Data Library. You go to its website and see that you can email, call, or chat online with a data librarian who can help you find the information you need. You call the library and speak with a librarian who tells you that the data you need is provided by the county rather than the city. You also learn about datasets available from California’s Department of Transportation, a non-profit called BikeSD, Data.gov and some other data from the city that hasn’t been opened up yet.

This is also a hypothetical situation. In fact, it is the hypothesis behind my research in Beth Noveck’s Gov 3.0 course.

The concept of an open data portal is relatively new, and most scholarly research on government open data has so far focused on why governments do or do not create open data portals. Findings on the impact of portals is still scarce, but my hunch (and others’) is that open data portals don’t accomplish much per se. As you can tell from the scenario I describe above, I believe they need librarians: helpful people who understand how to find information.

While he might not consider himself a librarian, Chicago’s Director of Analytics, Tom Schenk, provides a good example of how this can work. According to Christopher Whitaker, Chicago’s Code for America Brigade Captain, Schenk not only oversees the city’s data portal, but also “does a great job of communicating with civic technologists about the data” and attends local hack nights. Christopher says Schenk’s presence makes “all the difference in the world.”

I’m optimistic about data’s ability to promote social development, but doing research is difficult, and finding useful data for research is extremely difficult. It requires an understanding of what data sets exists, what format they’re in, how often they’re updated, and how reliable they are. Open data portals can make some datasets easier to find, but a library can provide the additional human touch needed to make data accessible and put it in the hands of the people who need it.

My project for Gov 3.0 is to figure out how this a data library would work. How should a data library be staffed? Who would fund it? Could it fund itself? Should data libraries be regional (e.g. a library focused on data about San Diego) or topical (e.g. a library focused on all data about transportation)?

If you have ideas about how to make data useful beyond open data portals, I’d love to hear from you. Please drop me a line at jed@civicknowledge.org.

— Jed Sundwall (@jedsundwall)

Reflections on Transparency

In researching disclosure “solutions” more I have felt a little bit at a loss because it seems that there is a wide variety of solutions/projects and the problem seems to be more of a lack of strong momentum than a lack of ideas.

Earlier this week I got coffee with my pod partner Marina and it really helped me to “think bigger” if that makes sense. She helped me get out of this rut where I was only looking at disclosure through the lens of what is already being fought for, as if those are the only solutions. Sure, it would be great if every state and the federal government passed some version of the DISCLOSE Act. But what can we do in the meantime to get more information out there in a salient fashion?

Marina just began throwing out every idea she could think of without stopping to censor herself or reflect. In addition to being a creative, ideas person Marina is unencumbered by preconceived notions as to how activists should think about transparency. So helpful! Marina prompted me to think more about how this information sharing could be better facilitated.

However, I was still stuck on this great portal that Sunlight has called the Political AD Sleuth. Here, Sunlight asks volunteers to track local ad buys by picking up the info on the buy from their local TV station and uploading it to their database. The program is fantastic; however, I wonder how user friendly it is for someone who does not care about some of these more nitty gritty details? What about people who just want to read up on some of the pertinent details of a PAC?

Cosmo and Mehan gave me an additional push when they pointed out that there are many iterations of these things. Maybe there are additions to be made to the portal? Such as a wiki where people could login and write up notations on things they know about the group? Marina, Cosmo and Mehan have given me some fantastic food for thought. More to come!

—Caroline

Initial thoughts from the GCDesign team

Hi there. We’re GCDesign, a team of six Canadian public servants who are interested in applying design thinking to improving government policies and services. Our project for Gov 3.0 is called Design Thinking for Policy and Service Innovation. Below we’ve collected some of our initial thoughts on the course from each of our team members. We also tweet using the #GCDesign hashtag so please feel free to follow along!

Brian Enright:I applied to Gov3.0 looking to expand my toolset and to learn a method to push forward GCdesign’s collective goal of improving the process by which programs, policies, and services are created within the federal government of Canada.

As a team, we’ve been working towards a solution to this problem for a couple months, and as individuals, we’ve been working on this for much longer. Last October we assembled as part of group of like-minded peers to compete in a Government of Canada-wide competition called Policy Ignite where individuals or teams present an innovative idea to policy nerds across government. Amid dozens of applications, ours was accepted and in December, we gave a short presentation making the case for the government of Canada to create a Design Lab for policy and service innovation. Drawing on examples like Denmark’s Mindlab and the UK’s Design Council, our presentation made the case for applying what many of us have been working on as leaders in user experience design, policy design, and interface design,  and applying these skills more broadly and intentionally to government programs, policies, and services.

We won, receiving popular vote among the audience, and have since been invited to present in a number of other circles, including a Dragon’s Den of senior management who committed to implementing the idea in some capacity. We have since seen our idea take on a life of its own with a number of federal departments investigating implementation of their own labs. In this success, we are starting to face new challenges as we attempt to bring innovation to a large system that is good at resisting change. As a team we defined our original challenge as getting senior management to take our disruptive idea seriously, it has now shifted towards ensuring implementation is adequately setting it up for success and even questioning if our solution is the right one for the problem we all originally came together to solve.“

Laura Wesley: Personally my challenge has been with the level of abstraction around our project, as well as the similarities in so much of our other work - GCDesign proof of concept, the policy ignite/dragons’ den experience, connecting in with other designers on their projects. In an attempt to pull away from a solution, and focus on the problem, the problem space has grown quite large and very difficult for me to wrap my brain around, especially with so many other ideas and priorities swirling around in there! Federal service offerings are already difficult to grasp - legislation, policy, transfer payments to others who deliver services - how are we to involve people in decision making if we can’t narrow in on one thing?

I work best when I focus in on one thing and then extrapolate out learnings from that experience. I also prefer to develop a body of work behind me that I can compare, contrast, discuss, observe objectively. This is new and exciting territory… there is a zeitgeist around us pulling and supporting the direction we are taking. However, it also seems to be tricky timing as others come to similar conclusions of the need, with less idea of how to meet it. I’m anxious to get to the part where we can point to something concrete and say “Here’s one example of the HOW.” I love the challenge. As always, I wish I had taken on fewer commitments so I could focus more on enjoying that space between knowing and not-knowing. I’m comfortable with not knowing the answer. I just haven’t dedicated enough space in my mind to really be present in that moment for this course.”

Rubina Haddad: “I really like the fact that this course is helping us focus on the problem - one of the biggest lessons from university was that in order to come up with any kind of solution you need to first completely understand every aspect of the problem and immerse yourself in it. What is currently happening, and what is the specific problem that needs to be solved and why.  As Laura said, I think we are struggling with targeting a specific problem because our big problem is very broad.“

Meghan Hellstern: “There’s this quote (of uncertain origin) that keeps floating around in my head: “fall in love with the problem, not your solution.” Though I certainly have theories, I’m not certain why it’s often so easy to jump straight to a solution or why it’s often so challenging to spend time on defining the problem rather than charging ahead into creating and solving. Whatever it is, I suspect it’s the same thing that drives what I call ‘tool talk’ - the desire to chase the shiny tangible package, to drive the problem from the solution rather than vice versa. I find myself fighting this constant urge to talk solutions yet the rational side of me clearly sees the logic in the quote - that, in order to be truly effective in problem solving, we need to make sure we fully understand the problem we are setting out to solve. We have to be so deeply in love with the problem that we will only accept the best possible solution for it, even if it’s not our solution. We need to be so impassioned that we want to see that problem solved no matter what it takes, even if it means that our role in solving it may be diminished or possibly nonexistent.

If we don’t fall in love with our problem, we risk spending effort only to produce so-called ‘bandaids’ - solutions that only superficially address an issue when, to carry the medical metaphor forward, the root cause is a much deeper sickness. I think we owe it to ourselves and the problems we seek to solve, not to mention the people impacted by those problems, to ensure that we are answering the right question before we invest an incredible amount of human capital, time, money, energy, sweat, blood, tears, and passion into a solution.So far, Gov 3.0 has been a great catalyst in helping me realize the value of falling in love with the problem, and I can’t wait to find out how that will affect the overall direction and approach our project takes.”

Blaise Hébert: “The part of our problem that I’m struggling with, is about understanding the degree of system wide change that is required in the government structure in order to accomplish new positive results. For example, if we are facing more “wicked” problems that are becoming more complex as a function of time, shouldn’t we be exploring how to adapt our structure to accommodate said complexity? More specifically, how do you add a design lab component to the existing policy development structure, without causing enough significant harm, and at the same time making it’s products survive implementation?  It’s hard to change one, without changing the other. I know that it’s unrealistic for me to think that this class will be able to to give me all the answers, but  the insight I gain from my peers, might be the clincher I need to build and support a solution.”

Sage Cram: “Narrowing the problem down is hard, really hard.  On the flip side however, having opportunity to spend time to work on it, share it, discuss it and whittle it down to its essence is rather luxurious. So seldom in my life as a public servant am I afforded the time to properly think my way around what I’ve been working on. We’re taking turns leading homework and for fun last week I asked everyone to frame the problem into the format of a tweet, I wanted to see how much we differed on our problem statement. It’s amazing how 140 characters really makes you zone right into the core of what you’re trying to say.

This course has also been a great voyage of discovery for me being part of this team. We all came to this course with a similar interest and passion but we all have such varying backgrounds, skillsets and knowledge that the process of working out our problem has in turn shown us where we need to step up and take charge and when we need to sit back and learn from each other. This is probably as valuable as the course itself.”

Here’s a Vine that will tell you a little more about us:

We’re all really excited to see where our project and those of our classmates will go - so stay tuned!