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Sascha Bardua for Taikonauten

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Creative Technology in Times of Crisis

Creative technology and empathy are crucial in times of uncertainty. A snapshot of how a health crisis forcefully digitalises our society to satisfy social needs and help.

Since the term digitalisation started to enter our business and personal lives it was hard to grasp its true meaning. We just didn't really experience it with our own eyes and hands. The forceful digitalisation of our daily life in times of the Corona pandemic makes the term somewhat more tangible.

We experience digitalisation in time of crisis in many ways:

We seek information online. We already got information from online news and forums. Now we see a rise in new apps and websites and increased use of social media to provide us with real-time data about the pandemic, the spread of the virus, the situation of our favourite local shops or findings ways to help neighbours, friends and family.

We seek help online. Spending our time locked up at home, we face new challenges. It’s our mental health and wellbeing, inability to go outside and do groceries or in the worst cases even domestic violence. The internet is the first go-to point for these personal challenges.

We shop online. Your local bakery, coffee shop, supermarket, retailers and doctors suddenly needed to offer their products and services online. Often without having any experience with the hidden required digital infrastructures, logistics, online payment workflows and IT-security. New platforms took this opportunity to offer digital marketplaces for small businesses, digitalise the Point of Sale, offer virtual customer experiences or help selling vouchers to support your locals.

We learn online. School fast-tracked their concepts of digital classrooms built on rudimental digital infrastructures. Online courses and personal education gave free access to their courses and made visible the digital illiteracy.

We take action online. Suddenly we comfort a friend during a video call or organise our neighbourhood community in huge Telegram groups. Online communities and mobile apps became the platforms where we offer our help to people we can’t meet, where businesses form alliances in existence-threatening circumstances and people work on projects initiated by national online hackathons.

We trigger change online. Democracy and activism are finding their way online using web technologies, social media and decentralised organisation. This could be online petitions for basic income during Corona or even finding new ways to make climate change activism digital.

We experience culture online. Museums, galleries, bars and clubs started to offer virtual exhibitions or even offered live streaming from the club with local DJs with a full-on financial concept to rescue and support the club scene.

We need creative thinking and empathy to review the ways we use and engage with web and mobile technologies.

To tackle new challenges in these rapidly changing circumstances for both people and organisations, we need to review how we use and engage with web and mobile technologies. Because the internet is our portal to offering and consuming the online world. Building user-friendly, accessible and safe digital products decide who we include. For this, creative thinking and empathy are substantial.

We need to find ways to seamlessly integrate technology into our daily activities and routines. We need to find fast, scalable solutions for the most pressing and sometimes health-threatening problems. We need to find ways to make technology super easy to understand for everyone, particularly for non-millennials or tech-lovers. We need to make the digital world accessible for everyone on all devices at any time. We need to invest in digital literacy as part of education and life-long learning no matter their age. We need to empower people to think digital and develop and maintain their own digital products. And we need to prepare businesses to run smoothly after the crisis, building on newly digitalised infrastructures, tools and processes.

This how we did this at Taikonauten:

Schweigen macht Schutzlos

Weißer Ring launched their German campaign Schweigen macht Schutzlos to raise awareness and prevent domestic violence. We helped design and build a website and online shop to buy masks and donate. A brilliant example how digital complements traditional campaigning to increase reach and impact.

bothAnd

bothAnd is a pan-European community of engaged citizens and domain experts working together for more clarity, transparency, and orientation around data privacy during the corona crisis. We helped design this digital platform to easily access and share the most relevant information on which public servants and technologists take action to serve everyone in need.

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Food for Thought 🍕

  • How can we make technology accessible for everyone?
  • How can we train digital literacy for young and old?
  • What can we learn from the current crisis?

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