Thanks to all you made it through the door – we had a packed session with 50 people in the seats lots more in the back and going out the door. Apologies to anyone who couldn’t make it in – I’ll send out a tweet with the links to the video once it is up (thanks so much to Clint for recording the session and editing the video).
If you made it to the event, please fill out the evaluation form and give us feedback. Also, I’m interested in existing papers that address failure – please list them in the form or just send me a line!
Our speakers highlighted some of the many difficulties of doing research in developing regions. It’s often hard to do evaluation, especially in places where the standard is not standard. Especially in post-conflict (or current-conflict) situations, sometimes your intended audience will simply not be ready for your intervention – programs to address psycho-social or more fundamental needs should come first. Publish your results in a timely fashion - how else will people learn from your mistakes? Stay grounded - the possibilities might be endless but often the problems are too. And apparently Kentaro’s theory on technology as an amplifier is not bulletproof? Thanks again to our speakers for being brave enough to share. You were all awesome.
In addition to the ignite-style (or more precisely, pecha kucha) presentations, we did a couple of breakouts, asking the audience to share their own failures, and to discuss takeaways and action items. One participant described a success story in which her work enabled a woman to tap a wider market for her crafts. Unfortunately, the woman’s subsequent success led to jealousy and eventually death threats. What is success in the face of the “effects of the effects of the effects”? Another person shared an experience in which their partnering mobile service provider ultimately pulled out because, well, their project was cutting into their ability to make money. Perhaps obvious in retrospect, but a great reminder that our goals should be aligned well with those of our collaborators.
Here are the takeaways and action items from our second breakout:
- There is no reward for #failure
- A negative result is a result!
- There are negative results, and there are failures that lead to new understandings or wisdoms about how to approach our research
- François Bar promised to reward failure by promising to do a special issue of ITID on “Spectacular Fails” (we are holding you to this!)
- Publish negative results!
- Address mis-placed expectations by starting work without a budget
- Integrate FAILFaires into your own practices, communities, and organizations (For more on how to roll your own failfaire, check out failfaire.org)
- Talk to people in the field
Mustafa has posted a great recap of the event on ICTWorks, I encourage you to check it out!