UN-useless!

I had mentioned in one of my previous posts that I am currently enrolled in an MOOC from stanford university called A Crash Course in Creativity.

Last week we were challenged to work in teams to “reframe” chewing gum. The idea was to reframe the question to arrive at new solutions and to create value. With over 18000 students and thousands of teams the results were amazing. You just have to google ‘reframing chewing gum’ and you will see a lot of presentations on prezi, slide share and even you tube.

My first knee-jerk idea was to look beyond the chewing gum to the packaging an create artists’ trading cards using the packaging. The packaging has almost no value in itself and is discarded but as an art card it will have some value. Kids age 5-13 love collecting things. From stickers, happy meal toys  to kinder toys and sports cards etc. They are also the ones who buy gum. Kids can make the cards and trade with friends .Value is in 1. the art work created 2. connections made and and 3. networking among students 4. reuse of a package that otherwise would have been wasted.

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But this was not using the gum per se.

After an exciting session of discussions, the team I was involved in arrived at the idea of personalized edible gums embossed with messages. As it stands the chewing of gum is an individual activity. These Gum messages would add a communicative value to it . My talented team-mates created various gum shapes out of modelling clay and one even made a bouquet with gum! It was a fun exercise. I made a very small contribution but enjoyed collaborating with people across continents and across time zones.

This week’s assignment is creating a Chindogu. A chindogu is not a useless invention but it is not a particularly useful one either. The term is UN-useless.

As I have been thinking about this challenge, My thoughts have wandered to the UN-useless things of life. Just like a chindogu there are un-useless thoughts, patterns and things in life that transcend the realms of the merely almost useless, and join the ranks of the really almost useless.  They may give a hint of almost being useful but they aren’t.

What a crazy idea! I will share what we eventually come with here later. In the meanwhile here are some links that you may enjoy:

The Japanese art of designing “unuseless” inventions. See this video.

Everything is a remix

Phir MIlenge!!

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