Exploration of Opportunity Spaces Assignment

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We will be talking about identifying and taking advantage of opportunities for design interventions in next week's class. There are many different kinds of opportunities, any of which might serve as inspiration for your final project. For this assignment, you will be looking through several different opportunity spaces to find things that are interesting to you, and to start to think about how you might be able to combine inspiration from each to accomplish a particular goal. The readings we have selected for this week each contain multiple examples from particular opportunity spaces. The opportunity spaces we have identified for this assignment are Social Entrepreneurship Opportunities, Technology Opportunities, and Business Opportunities. This list of opportunity spaces is by no means exhaustive.

This assignment has several parts:

Part I: Social Entrepreneurship Opportunities

Read through one or more of the exemplar sites for social entrepreneurship opportunities. Select 3 ideas/opportunities and for each of them read the blurb/article about them. It might be a good idea for you to write up either 3-7 bullet points or a short paragraph. This text would explain what the opportunity you see in them is for one or more design interventions of any kind.

For example, on the actions page for the "Take Care of Our Oceans" issue on takepart.com, the comments talk about how it would require everyone to take part to make a difference. Thus, example bullet points might be:

  • Create a public design jam type competition to develop ideas about how to better integrate plastics recycling into people's lives
  • Create a social media campaign to promote awareness of the environmental impact of motor oil
  • Create a DIY site where people can share methods of environmentally-friendly lawn care, such as creating fertilizers via red-worm composting, etc.


The social entrepreneurship opportunities "readings" are:

  • Take Part Issues Page
  • BreadPig
  • Stanford Social Innovation Review Predictions 2010-2020

Note: Some of the "readings" contain issues, others contain projects aimed at certain issues. For the projects sites, use the projects as inspiration. How would you improve on them? What would you do differently? How would you take a different approach to the problem the project is trying to solve? Do they inspire you to combine multiple disparate efforts into a single approach? Etc.

Part II: Technological Opportunities

Now do the same with the technological opportunities. The technological opportunities readings are:

  • Technology Review
  • Read Write Web
  • Tech Crunch

Part III: Business Opportunities

And now do the same with the business opportunities. The business opportunities readings are:

  • Springwise Ideas
  • Kickstarter
  • Fast Company Design's Best Innovation Essays

Part IV: Putting it all together

Now take one of the opportunities you wrote up from Part I, II, or III, and explore how you might combine the various opportunities and technologies you researched to realize the opportunity for design intervention you identified. How might it work? How might it fail? What features of the technology might be particularly effective? What needs to happen that the technology cannot do? And, finally, now that you've researched the technology, do you still think it is appropriate for use in effecting the opportunity for design intervention you identified? If not, what other kind of technology might be useful/appropriate? This other technology doesn't need to be a brand new tech that is emerging and upcoming; rather, it could be an old technology that can be applied to the new problem you've identified. Or, for that matter, something analog.

It might be useful to write up your analysis in ~3 paragraphs. Feel free to email us anything/everything that you've written, even if it is just in note form. Then be prepared to talk about your analysis and your experience performing this assignment by giving a very brief 3 minute (and no longer!) presentation in class next week (week 3).

Due Date/Time: 
You should be prepared to present your research at the beginning of class on Friday, 2/4/2011.
How to Submit: 
3 minute (and no longer!) presentation during class on Friday, 2/4/2011. Any extra materials you want to submit (PPT slides, assignment writeup, etc.) can be submitted here: <a href="https://courses.lis.illinois.edu/mod/assignment/view.php?id=95012">https://courses.lis.illinois.edu/mod/assignment/view.php?id=95012</a>
20 points for a strong presentation.