Sept - Dec 2016
Global Digital Innovation
Edu Tech 


ThoughtWorks: disruptive thinkers want to change the industry

Kgomotso Sediane, the first general manager of ThoughtWorks South Africa, is leading a team of skilled professionals who are enthusiastic and opinionated. They are determined to make changes that will have a lasting effect.

Armed with a BSc computer science (software engineering)Ms Sediane started her career in 1998, working in the software development field as a programmer, expanding her skills to include business analysis and project management. Her focus, among others, is to introduce and encourage black Africans and black women in particular into the software development field.

ThoughtWorks, one of the RailsGirls Johannesburg sponsors is a global company of passionate technologists specialising in disruptive thinking, cutting-edge technology, and a hard-line focus on delivery. Clients have ambitious missions to change their industry, their government, and their society. They provide software design and delivery, pioneering tools and consulting to help clients succeed.

The ethos of the company is quite simply one that focuses on ideas and it sees people as people. Pretty simple, but Digitalnfo sees this as smart too.

Ms Sediane says: “Wherever we are in the world, ThoughtWorkers share the same cultural characteristics and imperatives. We come to work as ourselves. We enjoy each other’s company. We value honesty and transparency. Appearances and backgrounds aren’t important to us; ideas and doing the right thing are.

“We abhor and reject discrimination and inequality and promote diversity in all its forms. We proudly, passionately and actively strive to make both ThoughtWorks and our industry more reflective and inclusive of the society that we serve.”

ThoughtWorks is pretty large on the globe with 3,000 employees in 32 offices across six continents.

ThoughtWorks tells us that apart from helping clients solve their problems through software, it strives to view the world from the perspective of the oppressed, the powerless and the invisible.

They see themselves as more than technologists, as people who understand that we live in a world of inequalities. For centuries women have been oppressed and thought of as incapable of being contributing mentors in the professional services.

Programming and writing code has long been perceived as a male profession and activity. ThoughtWorks would like to help to address this deficiency.

The sponsorship of Rails Girls is focused on breaking down this perception and exposing young girls to programming. At ThoughtWorks we feel we have found a partner that shares the similar goals and is actively addressing this issue in a local context.
ThoughtWorks tells us they are keen on working with Digitalnfo, depending on requirements as we roll out Rails Girls in South Africa.

So, big up to these disruptors!


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Creator Spaces   Designing Innovation Economics


Ayesha Dawood

I liked this when I came across it “Thinking is a kind of making, and making is a kind of thinking" says Jessie Shefrin former Provost of The Rhode Island School of Design and past Dean of Graduate Studies of The Rhode Island School of Design.

I like this too, alot 'design thinking ... is the expression of communication – the form itself...' that is the response I got when I asked John Maeda, at a talk at MIT this year what design thinking is -- Is it the form, is it the way it is presented .. and how does it impact international affairs? His response has got me mulling on innovation economics – and a very 21st century focus. The innovation economics idea was introduced to me by Professor William Fisher of Harvard Law School, Wilmer Hale Professor of Intellectual Property. And so Professor Fisher I take the liberty to propel this idea to designing innovation economics in the 21st century. So here I am positing Creator Spaces as innovation economics in action. And yes, Prof Fisher, Intellectual Property is important and as you say, only and only if it creatively engages with culture. So I take the creative engaging with the culture of a people, the culture of counties ... to a culture of creation. So, I am building and creating and designing too. Is this Ronald Dworkin`s chain novel theory playing itself out – a step by step building of things.

In particular I focus on Creator and Maker spaces which I call Creator Spaces. It is a movement rapidly gaining traction – and pioneering new pedagogies – tinkering, creator and playful learning pedagogies. No doubt this is influencing and will continue to improve a whole new wave – tinkering, playful learning and learning through play and exploration heralding novel creations as well as iterations in the new edu- tech era.

This is innovation economics birthed. A world of tinkering, software and hardware creation including an immersive engagement with technology and with materials –that is what empowers us to be courageous and creative. To make, to create – the art of playful learning and innovator spirit is boldly borne.

In seeing what we create – both online with immersive engaging of technology to building with our minds and hands to creating with materials to embracing the realm of possibilities and yes frameworks ( the lawyer in me screams legal frameworks as much computational thinking calls for system frameworks ). That is the power of Creator Space. They energise, motivate, uplift and propel growth in ones own sense of self, in creativity, in making, in building, in designing and cognition and critical thinking. And this is why it makes sense – it is innovation economics in both the digital and physical – a new form of a connected world – a world of immersive technology made simple – a world of creative making and a world of design and designing new things – software, new hardware, new things and while the search for new hardware forms and hardware materials is increasingly opening up new possibilities in materials.... Creator Spaces are about working with what is available as well making new from afresh and in that process new forms are birthed – New software creation is Creator Space and open source learning and remixing also lend impetus to this. See what amazing creations Scratch, an open source computer programme inspiring community learning and inspiring kids to create stories, animations and games - initiated at the MIT Media Lab Lifelong Kindergarden Group - is doing for kids globally here

Designing Creator Spaces is about inspiring people to take charge of their minds and ideas. I marvelled at watching the excitement and agility of the kids at MIT `s Scratch Day this May. Boundless enthusiasm and fun creations – and such confidence.

A new creator pedagogy in the making – yes – but maybe not so new in Africa and emerging economies where creator crafts and tinkering necessities were birthed. It is this staple that will take the shift to tinkering and artful play in emerging economies to levels unparalleled and a boon for innovation economics. Now that is design thinking innovation economics.  Creator Spaces is innovation economics. And yes, Intellectual Property matters.

Ayesha Dawood is a lawyer, writer and artist and educator. She is a Harvard and South African educated lawyer (@ConsultAyesha) She has an LL.M from Harvard Law School and is a recent Fellow of the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs, Harvard University.