Doing Good Is Good Business








There are three possible contexts in which we can put this problem statement:

Context 1: There are no banks in the world. We can imagine a world without banks, how would money work then? How can digital currency exists without banks?

Context 2: Design for the unbanked population. What would digital currency look like for someone without access to formal banking services? Can they be brought into a digitized economy without making them open bank accounts?

Context 3: Only we don’t have access to banking. In this you basically want to artificially create the problems of the unbanked population, for yourself, in New York. For example if you decide to go bankless for a month. How can you still digitally pay for day to day stuff.

Out of the three, I feel that we would be able to do most justice to the third context. That is because the scope of context 1 is too big and for the second, we won’t have an easy access to unbanked population in or near NY. This would mean designing in isolation, away from the users.

Links research ongoing:




“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”

Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016)


A distributed database

Picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchain.

Information held on a blockchain exists as a shared — and continually reconciled — database. This is a way of using the network that has obvious benefits. The blockchain database isn’t stored in any single location, meaning the records it keeps are truly public and easily verifiable. No centralized version of this information exists for a hacker to corrupt. Hosted by millions of computers simultaneously, its data is accessible to anyone on the internet.



“The underlying tech behind much of this is simply peer-to-peer transfer technology based off of mobile phones,” explained Dan Kleinbaum, co-founder and chief operating officer of Beyonic, a tech firm facilitating mobile money payments in Kenya and Uganda; rapid demand is driving expansion to 25 more countries. “Pretty much anywhere you don’t have widespread access to bank accounts but [do have] very high penetration of mobile phones – I’m talking 50 percent to 90 percent – is a good recipe for mobile money and P2P transfers.”

A total of 75 percent of the world’s 7 billion mobile phone subscriptions are in developing countries and similarly high levels of usage are found among refugees. A research study in Uganda found that 89 percent of refugees in urban settings and 46 percent of refugees in rural settlements use mobile phones in their main income-generating activity.

– See more at:


There are 255 mobile money services in 89 countries, according to the GSMA, a mobile money industry group. Besides Kenya’s M-Pesa, top providers are Rwanda’s mVisa; Tanzania’s Tigo Pesa; bKash in Bangladesh, created by the development organization BRAC; and Globe GCash in the Philippines.

The essential ingredient, besides a telecom with a P2P cash transfer mechanism, is a large enough network of agents throughout a country so that no matter where a cash recipient is located, she can find a place to cash out when needed.

– See more at:


Like every Uber country office, Uber Nigeria is a locally incorporated company that hires employees, runs support services, and adapts the platform to meet the demands of local consumers. For example, while Uber riders in most markets pay via credit card through the app, riders in Nigeria and across sub-Saharan Africa have the option to pay in cash. Many of these riders and drivers handle these transactions via mobile money transfers such as M-Pesa.






Unlearning Machine / Bioluminescent Cloud

I have to admit that I felt a bit worried or scared before taking Nature of Code, mainly because well, I don’t have a coding background of any kind.

However, the idea of attempting to understand and explore how nature and physics work through code seemed to me extremely exciting, even if I could not follow the math.

To my surprise, instead of feeling scared or troubled by numbers, I actually feel as if every class is a new door or window to infinite possibilities!  Even if I can’t make the math, I do visualize everything in a strange way. It is as if I was doing a mental drawing with layers of interconnections in space and as I keep on realizing those connections, new ideas emerge-new conceptions of reality.

I also realized that I can’t understand all the algorithmic component in such a little time, but I could explore it deeper and find meaning. This has, in turn, resulted in an amazing learning process, I encountered: Richard Feynman, Seymour Papert, John Tyler Bonner and so many other books and information that seems to be like a never-ending source of ideas.

For my final project, I would like to explore one of these ideas. I know that they are way beyond my capabilities at this point, but maybe I can do a first step or a silhouette and see what happens.

I have noticed I see nature of code a lot like drawing and just as I would criticize my sketches for a design project or a piece of art, I see myself criticizing my attempts in code but I wish I could freely play around and continue to have that “aha” moment with code.

So my idea has some layers, interesting layers I think  : )

Once I realized the capabilities of particle systems, forces and possible autonomous agents that can learn and somehow adapt, I immediately thought about Chromatophores in the skin of squids and other cephalopods. I wondered if there could be a way to kind of replicate or simulate the biological interaction that occurs in-between brain-skin-environment. Furthermore, my real question is: could we maybe understand something about how our brain works by generating this study? Could we understand the process of learning and maybe of unlearning?

Camouflage-brain motor patterns and neural activity-emotions- evolution

(If technology provides the tools for a certain “evolution” of humankind if it can give you the tools to be “Superhuman”, how can we actually assimilate or grow and contribute to tech. if being “human” is all we know… how can we redesign the learning or unlearning process in us humans so that we reassess our own limits?)

Another Idea would be to use nature of code in my ongoing experiment with clouds of bioluminescent algae.

Maybe I can simulate and predict what would happen to phytoplankton when suspended in a cloud water molecule. Potentially I could understand what kind of microorganism will survive my actual physical experiment. 

  • Building architecture from the frequencies of our brains
  • MicroOrganisms (unicellular) movement being affected/changed by human-made frequencies, visualizing this in a project mapping or AR- how frequencies affect our bodies at a cellular level-how do we move?
  • Creating a choreography with frequencies (we can trace or make visible as patterns or paths of movement )




Pathways Study

. Post-Mortem .



We arrived, seduced by the idea of infinite possibilities,
intrigued by the dimensions we might perceive while creating a path.

We posed a question: How would you move in space if you were able to see or perceive the invisible interconnections (frequencies/vibrations)around you? What kind of path would you create?

We thought: This could be a study on human frequencies, a speculative anatomy.

First step: Place six speakers in a room. Position them in a certain manner that will delimit space in x,y,z axis. Play different sounds representing invisible frequencies around us carrying data.

What pathways did you see?

* Static: No physical movement or shift in space, possibly due to blindfolds and multiple inputs of constant sounds- with no rules or guides to follow. However, it is interesting to notice that no physical displacement can occur parallel to a possible internal movement or thought process – Therefore how could we trace the pathway of thoughts (doubt, fear, curiosity etc.) inside our brains and bodies as we remain static in space?

* Random: Once the first participant felt comfortable to explore physical space, there seemed to be an intention to find a beat/rhythm and follow it or disrupt it. However, the multiplicity of sounds/volumes, we believe made the participant pose a question: whether to create “order” or follow “chaos” in movement. In other words, a tension between linear and random path making.

* Circular/Smoothness: or an intention of roundness, as the first participant explored space. Her arms stretched and her body expanded in an attempt to reach a sound source. At the same time, she tried to find more stability and familiarity, thus she placed her body closer to the walls. This path involved exploring the limits, touching them with movement.

*Linear: There seemed to be a contraction or push and pull as she attempted to find smoothness or roundness in her movement but found herself pushed and constrained into a linear path by the various points of sounds.

The second person to experience our piece, probably due to the previous reference, entered space with confidence. However, when blindfolded we noticed how a limitation or barrier in her intended path had emerged. It is interesting to notice that a pathway might have several points of decision-making or detours that determine orientation/force/goal. Therefore a pathway might be described as a learning process.

This second experience generated a pathway that we believe followed a triangle wave or a non-sinusoidal waveform. A periodic, linear and continuous function. A triangle wave contains only odd harmonics, demonstrating odd symmetry.

The pathway created in this case followed a specific upbeat, almost like a synthesizer of various sounds, generating a visual sound by a punctuated sharp linear movement on y-axis, counterpoint.

This was followed by a crawling movement, transforming the high peaks on y axis to a now constant low position on y axis and a malleable x axis exploration, almost noisy.

Which ones did you predict and design for?

Our main goal was to question a possible volume or dimensionality generated by the interaction of movement/presence and sound/frequencies. Therefore we predicted and designed delimitations in space by means of sound that we expected could generate points of constraint.

We predicted a fundamental linear path that would trace the limit points in-between the six sound sources, creating a constant movement which we hoped in turn to draw a perspective.

We specifically placed the speakers in different x y and z coordinates so that the possible pathway enabled a perspective by enlarging or extending space by a sensation of distance (the relation of two figures in the same plane, such that pairs of corresponding points lie on concurrent lines, and corresponding lines meet in collinear points.)

We also predicted a random spatial distribution as movement perceived sound.

Which were surprises?

Our experimental approach called for surprises, however, we did not expect pathways “off boundaries” or exit points. We imagined the speakers, placed in specific positions in space, serving as barriers or total delimitations of space. We did predict users approaching or having the desire to explore the source of a sound, but we were surprised to see pathways expanding to a non-audible territory or invisible to the Kinect.

Moreover, we expected more cautious and reserved movements guided by the augmentation of the hearing sense as we cut the sense of sight. Thus it was surprising to see a freer movement, smooth and expansive.   

A very pleasant surprise was seeing users move in the x, y and z axis; we hoped for dimensionality but we did not know exactly how it would look like.

What design choices did you make to influence the pathways people would take?

Our design choices responded to:

An assigned space: the classroom scenario.

Our specific goal: to render visible the interconnections in space by means of movement and dimensionality,

The strongest design choice we made was to disable the sense of sight and augment the sense of audition. This choice resulted as an answer to a question we asked ourselves: How would you move in space if you were able to perceive the interconnections (frequencies/vibrations)? What would your path be?

We predicted that the Kinect had to be positioned at a higher altitude with an angle, in order to sense and trace the movement of the head/torso as a complete element in space. We were not interested in limbs or displaceable joints.

Once we determined the possible range of the Kinect, we decided the x,y and z locations of the audio sources, predicting a linear movement on multiple axis.

We also asked ourselves, how does a choreography of existing frequencies around us might look like? Therefore we prototyped the idea of having multiple devices in space receiving and emitting frequencies we can trace and make visible as patterns or paths of movement.

What if frequencies have a certain weight or other unexpected means of perception? This question informed our design choices regarding stroke weight and audio file selection.

What choices were not made? left to chance?

We did not calculate the time for each track playing from a different source. We thought about having the sounds on a loop but then we decided to let them play and see what happens when randomly some stop and others continue playing. We thought that could be an interesting thread to a pathway.

We invited a volunteer to experience our piece but we did not provide any explanation or rules, and it was interesting to notice that a person is more likely to expect rules or directions once blindfolded. In a way taking the element of vision is giving yourself to chance.

What did people feel interacting with your piece? How big was the difference between what you intended and what actually happened?




NatGeo: The brain is full of Manhattan-like grids (Ed Yong) – 03/29/2012

Choros / 2011 / 13 min / HD / Stereo (Directed by Michael Langan and Terah Maher)

Ray Tracing

The Acrobatic Cardinal Points (Cosac Naify) – 2013

NY Times: Mysterious Rite of Reproduction (NATALIA V. OSIPOVA) Jun. 20, 2016

ScienceAlert: Scientists have confirmed a brand new phase of matter: time crystals (Fiona MacDonald) – Feb. 1, 2017

Doing Good Is Good Business

Design Thinking

Readings and Questions 

Designing Field Trial Protocols in Ethiopia for Pneumonia Diagnostic Devices

Interesting Concepts:

  • The importance of: early identification, classification, diagnosis and treatment of children where they need it the most: close to home.

In relation to (ARIDA) versus the beads method:

Question: The contradictions between analog and digital or “sophisticated” technologies to solve humanitarian problems seem to have a complexity of layers, however, most of them go back to education and efficiency. When time is of the essence, is it possible to introduce an element of education or culture awareness to the final solution or design-efficiently?

  • High Trust in Technology: The user research also showed that patients do have some experience with ‘low-tech’ health products, such as thermometers, stethoscopes, blood pressure meters and pregnancy tests, and they have a high degree of trust in them.  Patients generally believe that health technology reduces human error. When one of these tools is used on them, people feel that they have been properly examined; raising confidence in the health worker and potentially reducing their desire to self-medicate, use traditional healing methods or seek advice from unlicensed ‘chemists’.

Thought: This element of “trust” is crucial. In my personal experience, back home in Colombia where the health system, in general, suffers from all kinds of corruption and inefficiencies, people have already lost faith in the system and tend to rely more often on community doctors which sometimes might not be the best solution. However, it would be valuable to provide this community centers with the proper technology that might save lives and slowly educate and regain trust in the potential benefits of the health system.

Question: what are the common causes of pneumonia in these communities? Is there a way to prevent it at all? Is it due to specific environmental conditions linked to cultural traditions? As I read this papers I find it interesting how little we know about the world, and how easy it is to look up in google some fact sheet which I am sure will be the basic knowledge of the typical politician or bureaucrat. But how can we redesign the system so that a person can actually understand or explore the complex situation that a community might be experiencing? How can we pretend to solve a problem when we know so little about the multiple layers that determine a culture?

Community Case Management handbook

Interesting Concepts:

“We do not need a new science or new gadget to address the challenges we face today. What we need is to remove the bottlenecks that prevent these population groups from sustainably accessing essential services.”

One of the key bottlenecks is the ability to know where disparities are the greatest so that resources can be targeted more actively .

Are we reaching the right people?

What are the returns on our investments?

How can we make mid-term course corrections to our programmes based on feedback from real time data?

How can we get the few key pieces of information we need that can help programme managers act in time?

Can mobiles help us improve program- matic outcomes and increase impact?

And how can we engage the people we serve in this process?

How can we use communication technologies to give a stronger voice to community demand for Community Case Management services through Community Health Workers on the front line of care?

Idea: The most common complaint you will get in public/poor hospitals and health service providers in Colombia is: “The nurse or caretaker is always on her mobile and couldn’t care less about the patient.”  I have seen this situation first hand and it is quite impressive how mobile phones affect the already poor service quality in hospital but also other public service centers.  

However, it is such an intrinsic element of their realities that it seems quite smart to give it a turn and benefit from it somehow. I am not sure if it will work at all, but in the case of the nurses and caretakers, it would be interesting to see what happens if they were given an incentive for everytime they use a specific mobile app to help a patient. The incentive might be that they will be given free internet data for personal use. 

  • Rather than forcing hierarchical, linear chains of communications, look for overlaps in the system. 

UBER & Drones

  •  It is through its hyper focus on efficiency that Uber may have the most potential to benefit riders and drivers across the 473 cities and 76 countries where it works.
  • Early stage impact and long term potential in areas like safe roads and clean air that have traditionally fallen within the domain of aid agencies.
  • Uber is a testament that the global development community needs to continue pushing the envelope in terms of innovations that promote sustainable transport.
  • Uber advertises the flexibility the platform gives drivers to be their own bosses.

Question: How can we as designers, create or remodel and make attractive the idea of investing in doing good. How can we make “doing good” the next big thing in finance?

Doing Good Is Good Business




Principles of Innovation in Action (pages 105-115),

Social Media Fingerprints of Unemployment,

The Data That Turned the World Upside Down,

Fake News Is Not The Only Problem


Guest Speakers:  Gilad Lotan , Dr. Amen Ra Mashariki , Manuel Garcia-Herranz


Questions / Thoughts:

  • How do the concepts of innovation and relevance relate to time and sustainability in design?
  • What is the history behind post-truth politics, and how did it become so acceptable? 
  • How or what is being done in a research front to understand people’s perception of what is real?
  • How can we create or expect people to create something based on publicly-available social media datasets, if the average person does not know how to read data?
  • How can we understand why people react or act to a specific piece of information?
  • If data quantifies information based on actions and/or reactions, could it somehow analyze communication or interactions? Possibly as a means to then make data more trustworthy and non-binary?



Doing Good Is Good Business


Design Thinking Workshop (class activity) 


Quick design challenge process on the theme of digital or virtual communications (Skype, Facetime etc.)

We had to pair up with a classmate and together engage in the step by step process of identifying a problem and creating a simple solution through design thinking. My solution to Kenzo’s virtual communications problem is the “Mom Cloud” or possible “imom” a portable device designed to be clipped to any wall. It will be synchronized with Kenzo’s cloud system, therefore a screen video will appear on the device when Kenzo’s mother calls him but it will only allow video calls when his icloud calendar permits, on the other side, Kenzo’s mother will also recieve time notifications from the “imom.”

Kenzo’s problem is that as much as he loves his mother, he can’t afford to talk to her everyday all the time as she would like to.

This class activity was a great experience. The time constraints and partnership allowed us to realize the importance of adapting our design approach depending on context and user’s needs.





var mic;
var micLevel;
var points = [];
var x, y;
var px, py;

function setup() {

createCanvas(windowWidth, windowHeight);
text(“SEGURO AZAR “, 0, 60);

mic = new p5.AudioIn()
x = width / 2;
y = height / 2;
px = x;
py = y;

function draw() {


x += random(-4, 4);
y += random(-4, 4);

// Draw a line from the previous loc to this loc
stroke(0, 0, 200);
line(px, py, x, y);

// Remember current location for next frame
px = x;
py = y;

micLevel = mic.getLevel();

for (i = 0; i < points.length; i++) {

fill(247, 170);

function mouseMoved() {
if (mouseMoved) {
var newPoint = new Point();
newPoint.xpos = mouseX;
newPoint.ypos = mouseY;
// newPoint.displayOffset(micLevel);

function Point() {
this.xpos = 0;
this.ypos = 0;
this.display = function(micLevel) {
//fill(255,0, 0);
ellipse(this.xpos, constrain(this.ypos – micLevel * this.ypos * 10, 0, this.ypos), 60, 10);
ellipse(this.xpos, constrain(this.ypos – 40 + micLevel * this.ypos * 10, 0, this.ypos), 10, 10);
//point(this.xpos + micLevel ,this.ypos + micLevel);
// this.displayOffset = function(micLevel){
// ellipse(this.xpos, constrain(this.ypos+micLevel*this.ypos*5, 0, this.ypos), 1, 1);
text(“CERTAIN CHANCE “, 40, 100);
text(“CERTAIN CHANCE “, 80, 200);
text(“CERTAIN CHANCE “, 90, 300);
text(“CERTAIN CHANCE “, 100, 400);