One of the greatest things of recent technologies (especially the internet) is its power to bring people together. Some people might argue for the contrary, but if created for the right purposes, technology can be used to serve the people; not the other way around.
From cell phones to computers, tablets to smart TVs, these mediums continue to evolve and connectivity increases with them. Because of such, a great deal of our lives is also present online. Now, imagine if you could digitally share your days with a complete stranger? That’s precisely the idea behind the application 20 Day Stranger.
This iPhone app reveals intimate, shared connections between two anonymous individuals. It’s a mobile experience that exchanges one person’s experience of the world with another’s, while preserving anonymity on both sides.
For 20 days, two previously unrelated people will experience the world together. Neither one will ever know who it is or exactly where they are, but the creators hope that the experience will reveal enough about someone to build an imagination of their life… and more broadly, the imagination of strangers everywhere.
The app, created by the MIT Media Lab in partnership with The Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values, is open for anyone to apply. I guess the only prerequisite is to have an iPhone.
The idea behind this initiative, while simple, has a great impact in cutting back waste from coffee cups. Let’s face it, coffee is a large part of many people’s everyday routine. But, let’s take a step back to see what that daily habit consists of: a paper cup, a plastic lid, a sleeve to not burn your hands, and of course, if you add sugar, then there’s the sugar packet, the creamer packet and the plastic coffee stirrers. Multiply that by all the people getting their morning coffee…
A partnership is trying to change that. The DO School and Brooklyn Roasting Company are producing 500 ceramic share mugs. Now, you don’t throw away your coffee cup after finishing up your coffee. Instead, you take the mug back to the coffee shop in order for it to be washed and sanitized and used for the next day.
That discovery then led me to BizeeBox, another genius idea where you have a reusable takeout container that allows you to get food to go without feeling guilty about the waste you’re generating. How could such a simple solution seem so far away?
Imagine a world in which this would be the norm. No, I retract, let’s not imagine; let’s make it happen.
What if one of the most distributed products in the world could be turned into a distribution network of essential medicines?
You can buy Coca-Cola virtually anywhere in developing countries, but in these same places 1 in 9 children die before their 5th birthday from simple, preventable causes like dehydration from diarrhea. This is a massive distribution network that is perhaps unparalleled by any other brand. It’s interesting though that in some countries Coca-Cola has a bad stigma. When I was in Sri Lanka working with the organization Future in Our Hands, we spent a full day in the sun interviewing local farmers. Late in the afternoon, all I could think of was of a cold drink. We stopped at a small grocery shop, and I asked for a cold Coke. The men who were with me immediately inquired why I was going to drink that. Unaware of the implications, I said I liked it. Then, they asked me how I could drink an alcoholic drink in the middle of the day (their religion did not approve alcoholic drinks). Not understanding the question, I tried to explain that I was only going to drink Coke, not a mixed drink. Then, they said that Coke was an alcoholic drink. I could drink any other soda; except Coke. I ended up settling for a warm bottle of water.
We were in the middle of Sri Lanka, in a small rural village of perhaps no more than 500, and even though Coke was available, several others were lacking.
That’s exactly the premise behind ColaLife, an organization which has the same principles and uses networks that Coca-Cola and other commodity producers use, to open up private sector supply chains for ‘social products’ such as oral rehydration salts and zinc supplements. Whilst ColaLife seeks to work with corporates to bring about social change, the organization is not affiliated with any other company and their work does not imply an endorsement of any product or brand.
Seems like something Amazon could help out as well…
One of the most difficult times for any social initiative, be it an organization, a company or a project, is the beginning. In the beginning, there are several challenges: finding the right partners, searching for the necessary investments, understanding the initiative’s essence, and mainly, finding motivation to keep fighting and believing.
We know several people and projects who are in this phase. Even though they have tremendous experience (validating their projects), they want to increase the impact of their transformation. In this growth is only possible if the new demands are supplied.
To help these initiatives that are in this crucial phase, we decided to launch a new documentary format: 3-minute videos that portray these projects (and the entrepreneurs behind them), so that they can be used for online communication. This is a shorter format, more casual and which reflects the challenges and inspirations behind each initiative.
We call this new format POCket DOCS. :)
These are initiatives we believe in, and that through our knowledge, we try to help and inspire them to grow and increase their impact.