Feast and Famine
On the one hand, SFGate has a really interesting story on the social and economic factors that make Korea, Hongkong, and Japan such electronics powerhouses compared to the western world. One of the most interesting concepts is that workforce age kids (23 and older) are still living with their parents because of astronomical housing costs. When you like on a really populated island, there's not much place to go. But because of this, these teenagers have a tremendous amount of disposable income with which to buy the latest cool electronics (if you thought the turnaround time for Wal Mart goods was short, some Korean teens change cellphones every 6 months to keep up with styles). If you're an electronics designer, or any consumer product, for that matter, it's worth a read just to see how our social differences are expressed in our products.
On the other hand, Unicef released a series of studies the other day outlining the state of safety of the world's children. The believe that half the children in the world are at risk today from war, social oppression and aids. For more statistics on the state of the world's children, they have created an online database
While it truly is amazing to design really cool technology like the cellphones and video cameras we drool over from South Korea, wouldn't it be equally as interesting to design solution which allows children in Senegal to have a childhood? If you're interested, Unicef has an extensive jobs page where you can contact somebody to see how your skills can be put to work.
There will always be a gradient between the haves and the have-nots. But good purposeful design means that it doesn't have to be quite as steep as it currently is.
Copyright 2004-2006 Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team