Where Science Meets Muse

Archive for March, 2012

How To Build an SMS/Text Support Group to _________(Lose Weight, Stop Smoking, Be Green…)

Posted by Plish on March 25, 2012

Texting is everywhere.  Which got me to thinking: Wouldn’t it be great if there was an app  that would leverage SMS to help people support each other in their quests to improve?

Need to lose weight?  Get this app.  Need to stop smoking?  Try this app.  Want to do a better job of conserving energy or recycling?  This is the app for you and your friends.

But then I thought, “Why bother with an app?”  Everything needed to make a virtual support group already exists on our mobile phones.  All that is needed are friends, common goals, passion, and a little know-how.

I assume you have the first three. Here’s the how:

Build the Group

1. – What type of people should be in your virtual group?

  • They share concern for the issue you’re working on.  In fact, it should be a passionate concern!
  • They’re within 100 miles (This isn’t necessary, but it’s always a plus if you can sometimes meet in person!)
  • You trust these people implicitly, and they trust you!

2.- Group size should be between 2 to 10 people. You can have more but the goal is to support each other. More than 10 and things could get quite unwieldy. Small groups are better for this.

3. – Once you and your friends are committed to this journey, make sure you have each other’s phone numbers.

4. – Create a Group out of your friends’ numbers. This is so you can text everyone at once. Oh sure, you can text the individual people one at a time, but the true power of finding and giving support, lies in the ability to contact everyone at once and the easier this is to do, the better. If you need help doing this you can check out the following references based upon the phone type:

5. – It may be worthwhile to write, and store, various ‘pre-written’ messages (for example: “I’m feeling weak and really want to eat this!”, “I did it!! I resisted!” or “Just finished exercising – feel gr8!”) But be careful. Correspondence should be authentic and heartfelt. Don’t overuse pre-canned messages!

 Working Together…

6, – Now that your group is built, contact each other, via text, at key moments.  Here are some examples of times when sharing would be apropos:

  • Challenges.  When someone in the group feels the urge to eat more than he/she should, or the wrong type of food, or doesn’t feel like exercising, grab one of the pre-written texts, or write one on the spot, and send it to the group.
  • Successes.  If you’ve just resisted that cigarette, or resisted the “Ice Cream Brownie Fudge Surprise!” share it.
  • Did you sneak something from the fridge in the middle of the night? Share it. You need to be open with each other. Remember, you’re in this together to improve not to judge. (No judging!!) 
  • Come across an article, quote or event that might help you all reach your goals? Send it out!

7. – The group’s reason for existence is to support each other. You are committed to each other. When a text comes from someone in the group, respond. Help each other out. Cheer each other on! It’s the feedback and interaction that will help people meet their goals and grow.

8. – If distance permits, get together in person to touch base, see each other, and smile (or cry). You’re in this together, and you’ll succeed together.

That’s all there is to it! 

And remember, this is more than just about weight loss.  It’s about helping each other grow and be more!

Please let me know how this goes, or if you meet any specific challenges.  I’m especially looking forward to hearing how else this could be applied..

Good luck!!

Disclaimer: Any healthcare information is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care providers with any questions that you may have regarding a specific medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking medical advice or treatment because of something you have read on this site.

Posted in Design, Food, Health Concerns, Healthcare, Social Innovation, Social Networking, The Human Person, Wellness | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

When Inspiration Meets an Apron

Posted by Plish on March 18, 2012

I was at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show the other day.  The theme was “Hort Couture”; a stimulating mix of fashion and flowers/gardening.

One exhibit was called, “Aprons: Myth, Memory, Fantasy in the Kitchen.” The artists on display represented the  Women’s Journeys in Fiber project.  Among many of the fascinating aprons, one in particular, done by Janette Gerber, caught my eye.  I put together the below video so you could see and read her journey through the creative process.  The text in the video is hers, and it gives some context to the work.

If you want to see more pictures from the show, click on the below pic of Yours Truly  after I snuck into one of the exhibits to do some designing. (The page will open in a new window).

Click to see more pics from the show

Posted in creativity, Design, Food, innovation, Nature of Creativity, problem solving, Research | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Simulating Systems with This Intuitive (and Free!) Tool

Posted by Plish on March 8, 2012

Many years ago while working in the Rehab.-R&D wing of the Hines VA hospital, I was modelling how urinary bladders fill and empty.  The goal was to better understand what was going on so that we could design appropriate interventions.

I used a software package called TUTSIM.  It was a relatively easy to use package and it opened my eyes to the powers of system simulation.  I still do system modelling, mostly using spreadsheets.  It’s adequate, but it lacks the intuitiveness of something like TUTSIM.  I’m always on the lookout, then, for something easy to use, and yet, low-cost.

Yesterday, I came across Insight Maker.  This free, web-based simulation site fits the bill nicely.  Its self-explanatory, graphical interface enables people of all experience levels to program simulations of varying complexities.  Best of all, these simulations can be shared via the web.  This means people can change the variables and see the results for themselves.  (Yes, seeing is believing, especially when you can manipulate a model, and see how the results were reached!)

As with any software, the more extensive the support community, the more you can usually get out of the application.  Insight Maker is no exception, and thankfully there are plenty of resources. First off, you can always check out the Insight Maker Wiki .  For more extensive training, take advantage of these free webinars.

The Insight Maker website has multiple support groups, as well as premade simulations that you can tap into and use in your own simulations.

On LinkedIn? Check out the LinkedIn group on Systems Thinking (where I found out about Insight Maker) and there’s even a Systems Thinking Wiki.

So, never fear! If you get stuck with Insight Maker, there are plenty of  ‘ropes’ you can grab to pull yourself to safety.

In closing, if you’re modelling systems(biological, social or otherwise), or if you’d like to start, check out Insight Maker.  I think you’ll be excited by the possibilities.

(If you’d like to check out a simulation, here’s a classic “Predator/Prey” simulation.  Enjoy!)

Posted in Design, Information Visualization, innovation, Innovation Tools, problem solving, Service Design, Social Innovation, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Want to Share Data and Interact With it on the Web?

Posted by Plish on March 1, 2012

Well presented data tells a story.    When viewers can interact with the data, it goes beyond storytelling and encourages discussion and a search for insight into why x happened to y but not to z.

Enter Tableau Public.

This free tool (yes, free!) enables you to take data and share it on the web in visually attractive ways.  Once published, others can interact with, and ultimately, discuss it.

I’ve often struggled with elegant ways of depicting data so that others can interact with it.  I’ve tried using various Excel add-ins and websites. However, after going through the Tableau site and playing with some data depictions, this seems to fill a need that up to now has been woefully underserved.

If you’re more interested in deploying this tool in your company,  you can get that here.  It’s no longer free, but also does not appear unreasonably priced.

I have already downloaded Tableau and am looking forward to trying it out.  If you have tried it, or after you’ve tried it, I’d love to see the fruit of your labors.

In the meantime, feel free to play around with this graphic on the perils of eating undercooked food.

Posted in Conveying Information, Information Visualization, innovation, Innovation Tools, Social Innovation, Web 2.0 | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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