Xavier Bertels
9 Jul 2015

Nudging The World To Be More Open #oSoc15

A boring summer job. Order-picking. Check-out duty in a grocery store. Serving sun-burnt customers in a bar at the sea-side in 38°C. It can be satisfying in rare cases. It is also exhausting, not very challenging and mind-numbing. It is true that any work, paid or unpaid, is better than no work. It is also true that relevant, challenging work is better than any work.

Open Summer of code (oSoc) is a summer camp for students which offers exactly that. Students work on real projects for real clients during an intensive 3-week programme. They learn about deadlines, working as a team and celebrating failure and success. It offers something no other summer job can offer. They leave with a nice sum of cash to spend on festival beers or to bootstrap their own company. And if they work really hard – which they do – they leave with a portfolio piece and C.V. which blows the other candidates for their dream job out of the water. It is a veritable bridge between school or university, and their first job.

Three students sitting in front of their computer in a room at open Summer of code 2015
Team educal designing, coding and making the world more open at #oSoc15

That is why Mono is a partner of #oSoc15. I am a part-time mentor of two talented teams of students. The objective is to guide them towards a successful product launch at the end of three weeks. The user experience of those products will be the result of a team effort, divided over developers, designers and marketers. It will be a customer-centric product, marketed at the right people, fast and friendly to use.

Our efforts also allow the iRail team to pay for an extra student-developer. That team is working on a GTFS dump for the Belgian railways (NMBS/SNCB). In Belgium’s Prime Minister of Open Data Pieter Colpaert’s Words:

With the iRail API, we already have a way for developers to create simple how-to-get-from-A-to-B apps with train time data. A GTFS dump allows anyone to play with the data, enabling more innovation. For instance, it allows someone to answer the question: “what’s the best route for a person with disabilities?”

As interface designers, we damned well know how important innovation like this is. One day, there may not be an explicit Graphical User Interface anymore. It could be the ultimate form of simplicity. And we love simplicity. We need open data to accomplish that however. This is too big for just one company to take on. That is why we decided to support this wonderful project. It does not make us one cent, but it does push a small part of the world forward in a direction we love. It makes the world a little bit more open. And hopefully a little bit better for it.

In case you are reading this at the time of posting, you can follow the live stream of the first pitches on Thursday 9 July at 13:00 GMT+2.

Xavier Bertels

About the author: Xavier Bertels is a designer and managing partner at Mono, where he helps companies deliver simple, useful & beautiful digital products. He tweets as @xavez.

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