MobileActive.org, a group using mobile technology to advance social change in the developing world, is sponsoring an event to share and understand IT and communication technology failures.
The event, called FAILfaire, will be held on April 14, 2010 in New York City:
While we often focus on highlighting successes in our field, it’s no secret that many projects just don’t work – some don’t scale, some aren’t sustainable, some can’t get around bureaucratic hoops, and many fail due to completely unanticipated barriers. At FAILfaire we want to recognize the failures: the pilots that never got anywhere, the applications that are not delivering, the projects that are not having any measurable impact on the lives of people, and the cultural or technical problems that arise.
As a field, we explore the use of technology in our work focused on increasing human and social capacities. Sharing success stories and case studies, while helpful, isn’t enough. Talking openly and seeing where we have failed may help us learn, make better decisions, and avoid making the same mistakes again.
Technology, and particularly mobile technology, has, of course, as of late been lauded as the second coming in international development. And while we certainly agree that there is much potential for the use of mobile tech to support the development, governance, accountability, and democracy efforts that we all work on, we also believe that, as a field, we are now mature and wise enough to start to take a close look at what is not working. And have the guts and insights to talk about these flops and failures in a constructive and forthright manner.
Bring in FAILfaire. It is a way for us to come together and talk about exactly this – what did not work, why, and how to do better. We hope that the inaugural event in New York (where we are based) is only the beginning of a long series of conversations to talk about where we fall short and why.
I was honored to learn the event was inspired by this blog and the way we treat failures.
Here's the information you need to learn more and register: