DesignIT: a mashup of charity, art and technology

I'm proud to have been involved in Microsoft's DesignIT competition (in partnership with Computer Weekly) for the last three years. It's a great idea as IT Professionals propose innovate designs to help charities make the most of technology to improve their effectiveness - the public together with judges nominate a winner and then Microsoft fund £15k of work to implement the solution. 

Rebecca Froley described DesignIT as "DesignIT is intended to encourage creativity in UK IT" in her excellent article on Computer Weekly's site. Rebecca's piece includes images inspired by the finalist entries -it's well worth a look. This year's winner was James Elliott who came up with "the virtual rucksack" on behalf of St Basil's charity for youth homelessless. Think about the items you store in a drawer/filing cabinet at home detailing your employment, financial, housing history - if you were homeless you'd find it very difficult to even keep track of your National Insurance (social security) number if you are like most people.

The virtual rucksack will give homeless people a place online to securely store details of their "paperwork" that they will be able to access from anywhere. You perhaps won't be surprised to hear that thought is going into advising users to consider whether they can trust the machine they're connecting from as clearly we don't want their details being exposed to compromised machines. Clearly it's a trade off between simply gaining access from wherever they can get online and staying secure - fortunately the charity provide a safe point of access.

You may wonder where the art piece comes in. IT Pros are often the unsung heros in their organisations as much of their work takes place behind the scenes. Many solutions are elegant and often have profound impact on the business/charity/organisation. In common with previous years we invited artists to produce works inspired by the top design entries - each of which was exhibited for the day at a lovely gallery (the Music Room) in London.

We also held a debate about whether blogging is art - more of that in my next post

I really liked the following image:

It's amazing to me that it was inspired from a single piece of paper like the following one: