Bubblr was a product I imagined during my Q4 Theory class at AC4D. We had 5 readings (listed at the bottom of this post) that talked about power dynamics relating to work, culture, and our roles within each.  Our assignment was to create an artifact to illustrate our thinking on the topic.

I started by abstracting ideas from the readings based on different roles: those holding on to power, those empowering others, those giving up their power. For each of the readings, I wrote my take-away for each role.

I focused a lot of my thinking on the idea of creative abrasion from Design Thinking and How It Will Change Management Education 
Dunne, Martin. The idea is that hearing more opinions, even challenging ones, can make arguments stronger and can lead to better performance. Diversity, in other words. It’s easy to fall in line with people who are like you: who think like you, look like you. It’s easy in another way to parrot people around us to fit in. It’s pretty vulnerable to dissent to those around you, or admit that you might be wrong.  If we’re open to it, positive change can come from considering opinions that oppose our own beliefs.

People who are "different" or "other" in our society (say... women or people of color) haven’t always had the opportunity or the agency to voice their beliefs publicly and be taken seriously. The internet has opened up lines of communication, creating safe spaces for those seen as minorities in our society to talk freely about their lives. It’s wonderful that people have those spaces to speak, but these voices are getting very loud in closed off rooms. The echo chamber of social media keeps us all in bubbles, where we think real change is happening because all the people around us are talking at the same change, but the larger conversation is much slower to adapt.

In comes Bubblr: a [fictional] tool to break out of your social media bubble by finding people that you’re connected to in some way (industry, location, etc) but who are ideologically different.

I am aware that this is a pretty sunny take on what can happen when people with opposing ideologies come together. Conflicts can have pretty dramatic consequences. They can also teach us a lot. If we’re just carrying on our path, being agreeable, we might be squandering our potential for change. We shouldn’t let what is working for others be the default, because it reinforces their power and undermines our own.