There’s an idea I’ve been chewing on since early college, that I first mulled in a paper I wrote for Dr Jay Aronson’s Global Justice class in Fall 2009:
An smartphone app that helps people connect to the people who make the things they own. A few weeks ago, as part of a poster proposal for the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, I committed to building the app myself. I’m calling it Source. You can find the prototype I wireframed for the conference proposal to the right.
The app uses the things we buy and own to surface existing global relationships. It helps users connect to the sources of their things and the lives of people in the countries where those things came from.
Down to brass-tacks, my minimum viable product version will help users:
- Search for a material and find the top 5/6 countries that produce that material,
- Explore how those countries rate on well-respected international benchmarks (like the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report or Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index), either using default benchmarks or choose issues about which they care deeply and
- Connect to people in that country through social media.
In a future version, I want people to be able to scan a barcode of a product then see the countries that materials probably came from through the app. I’ll dig into why I’m tracking countries not companies, whether anyone will use an app that makes them feel bad about themselves (hint: design the app so it does not make people feel bad about themselves) and other issues in my Source category.
I’m making everything about this app open source, from my code under GNU GPL and my process and notes under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 (which is what I use for all of my writing here). It’s my first app, and I figure if I want to be a greedy grump I can for my second I will. For now, open is how it will be.
I’ll be sharing a lot more on this in the next few weeks as I develop it, including a few different origin stories, some use cases, and more designs. I always enjoy feedback, either in the comments or if you’d like to get an early version, ping me.
This should be fun!
“Help one another, is part of the religion of sisterhood.”–Louisa May Alcott
Will you be making it by yourself ’cause it’s just your project, or putting it up somewhere where other people could help?
Either way, looking forward to it!
Hmm, I hadn’t thought of putting the code up on github/wherever the kids are hosting FOSS projects these days, though that is a great idea. I think I have some more research and wireframing, but if you’re interested comment and I’ll ping you offline. I’m always interested in more hands.