How might we evolve the Listserve through Design Thinking?

November 23 2015

The Listserve was a class project started in 2012 by five NYU Technology and Communications Graduate students.

Originator Alvin Chang in a Medium post weighed in on the design of the project:

"For most people, the Listserve is a daily e-mail from a stranger. But there are more facets to the experiment that we hope people play with. When someone wins the Listserve, they don’t just win the ability to send an e-mail to 25,000 people. The value of this opportunity lies in several mechanisms:

- The synchronous nature: It’s all sent at once, and many people will read it at the same time.
- The blank canvas: Sure, we only allow text. But what you do with the text doesn’t have to stay within the bounds of the e-mail, or within the bounds of the form. (‘Text’ ≠ ‘Words’)
- The feedback: We think of every message as a pebble dropped in a lake. What’s interesting isn’t the pebble itself, but the ripples it causes.

In short, it’s an opportunity to experiment with the world."

So, my question is, how can we use the Listserve in a more profound way, beyond telling stories, finding more about each other and the society we live in. Essentially, how might we 'evolve' the Listserve from how it currently exists?

My idea is to approach this using Design Thinking. Design Thinking is a powerful tool used by innovators to find solutions to problems. Design Thinking is commonly used as a two stage iterative process that seeks to 1) find the ‘right’ problem and 2) find A solution in a way that meets human needs and capabilities.

To start any Design Thinking project you must first a) define a goal and b) assemble a team.
- Our Goal? Learn from what the Listserve has accomplished, iterate on different designs for innovative communication products, build ‘something’ that has an impact.
- Team: We’re the team. I believe just being on the Listserve is a strong signal for one’s level of creative curiosity - I’m confident we’ll be able to put together an interesting group of people.

Let’s learn from something new together. If you’re interested in participating in this project please email me at [email protected] You can expect about one email a week as we get started.

Here we go!

Chris Stanley
[email protected]

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