I recently attended a couple of ‘Hackathon’ events hosted by AgeUK. I had never heard of one before, so was interested to find out what happens. My interpretation of a Hackathon is an event in which computer programmers and others collaborate on projects to find innovative solutions to shared challenges. With the events that I attended, a major emphasis was on involving the end user, or beneficiary, to identify these challenges and involve them in coming up with solutions.
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak to a couple of people, who were over 50 and fitted the end user profile, about how the lives of the over 50s could be improved by using technology. I discovered many interesting things which reinforced my notion that no two people are the same, and different people use technology in different ways, however, if you find a solution that helps one person, it is likely to benefit many, many more.
One discovery effected me most of all. During our discussions, we looked at solutions already available, things which had already been invented to bridge a gap and make life easier. One of these was the folding walking stick. Not only was it able to fit in your bag, but it came in a range of FUN and INTERESTING colours.
Hold on: fun, interesting, colourful? Those hadn’t been on my list of requirements, but why not. We don’t reach a certain age and say “oh well, now I must be serious and only buy things which are dull, functional and fit a purpose”. It might just be me, but sometimes we can look at problems in society and put our fix on them, decide how we want to solve the challenges and think we know best. We must make sure we ask those that we are helping. This will enable them to feel included, and ensure that we find answers that not only fix problems, but are also wanted.