Projects succeed, projects fail. The successes are reported on, the failures are filed away. Or, in the case of most ICT 4 Development or Mobile 4 Development projects, pushed under the proverbial rug.
Well, its time to bring out the failures, with a sense of humor, and with an honest look at ourselves. Hence was born: FAILFaire.
FAILFaire features projects using mobiles and ICTs in international development that have, to put it simply, been a #FAIL. Busted, kaputt. Tongue firmly in cheek, we take a close look at what didn’t work and why the projects failed amidst the ICT4D hype we all are subjected to (and sometimes contributors to). We believe that only if we understand what DOESN’T WORK in this field and stop pushing our failures under the rug, can we collectively learn and get better, more effective, and have greater impact as we go forward.
While we often focus on highlighting successes in our field, it’s no secret that many projects just don’t work – some don’t scale, some aren’t sustainable, some can’t get around bureaucratic hoops, and many fail due to completely unanticipated barriers. At FAILFaire we want to recognize the failures: the pilots that never got anywhere, the applications that are not delivering, the projects that are not having any measurable impact on the lives of people, and the cultural or technical problems that arise.
As a field, we explore the use of technology in our work focused on increasing human and social capacities. Sharing success stories and case studies, while helpful, isn’t enough. Talking openly and seeing where we have failed may help us learn, make better decisions, and avoid making the same mistakes again.
FAILFaire: A place where it’s ok to talk about what didn’t work.
So far, there have been three FailFaires. The inaugural FAILFaire in New York was organized by MobileActive.org, an organization interested in advancing the field of mobile technology for social change and development. The second FAILFaire took place in Washington DC, co-hosted by our colleagues at the World Bank Institute. The third FAILfaire (also in Washington, DC) was organized by ICTworks. We are currently gearing up for FAILfaire’s return to New York on December 14th, 2011.
FAILFaire is a completely open-source concept and all collateral on this site is licensed under Creative Commons license, including the logo, name, and all content. Feel free to roll your own FAILFaire in your city and your field!