Thomas Edison once said “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”Â That sentiment was alive and well when the U.S. Fund recently hosted FailFaire NYC, a convening that highlights Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) projects gone awry.Â The goal in airing our dirty laundry?Â Sharing what doesnâ€™t work in order to move the community more quickly toward what does work.Â
The Â conversation united technologists from the private sector, development experts, and media for candid presentations of â€śFailsâ€ť or â€śhow not to approach ICT4Dâ€ť by seven leading figures in the field–including UNICEFâ€™s own Chris Fabian of the UNICEFâ€™s Technology for Development unit.Â
The event was presented by MobileActive.org, a network of practitioners in the â€śmobile technology for social goodâ€ť field.Â MobileActive founder Katrin Verclas–a TED Fellow and one of Fast Companyâ€™s 2011 Most Influential Women in Technologyâ€”moderated.
We were joined by a capacity audience, many of whom were practitioners themselves (those people engaged in the â€śdirty, difficult work of rethinking the world.â€ťÂ )Â Equal parts ruthless self-reflection and tongue-in-cheekÂ parables of misadventures in humanitarian innovation, the presentationsÂ illustrated the challenging reality of trying new things: itâ€™s hard.Â
But in sharing the blind spots, breakdowns, and the seemingly thousands of potential misstepsÂ that make for an epic fail, the presenters accomplished something great: they cleared for their peers a path to success.Â And for UNICEF, success means something amazing:Â a better future for children.Â
So many thanks to the fearless presenters, our guests, and the MobileActive team for a successful evening.Â Looking forward to the next FailFaireâ€”in the meanwhile:
(â€¦letâ€™s call that a sign-off fail.)
Â For more on FailFaire, visit: http://failfaire.org;
For more on mobileactive, see: www.mobilactive.org.