Usability in blogs and stoves


Design prototypes in Myanmar. Which is cooler?

Over at 3brick design, a project spawned from Stanford’s Extreme Affordability class, they take user-centered design seriously, and respect the dignity of the people they’re trying to serve. The examples they’ve displayed so far look elegant and functional – I’ll be interested to see what they come up with.

One thing is sure: it’s unlikely to be a single design. As the context changes, the appropriate technology for the situation tends to change as well. Do the users mainly frying or do slow cooking, for example?

Showing that they think about their users in more than just a cooking context, the project has chosen a nice lean blog skin for WordPress called Darwin, designed to be fast-loading and easy on the eye. Good work.

Picture credit: “3 bricks. Many¬†users.” at the Stanford Cool Product Expo blog.

Appropriate technology guru tackles infant mortality.


What’s the number one cause of death in children under 5? Waterborne diseases? Diarrhea? Malnutrition? No: “Breathing the smoke from indoor cooking fires – acute respiratory infections caused by this.”

Indoor cooking with commonly used stoves causes a lot of smoke contributes to deforestation, erosion, flooding.

There are lots of efforts to improve cooking fuels as well as the stoves. Some have been successful, many haven’t been appropriate to the needs of the users. Amy Smith, a remarkable thinker, inventor and doer in appropriate technology, shares some exciting developments:

Amy Smith also founded and leads the International Development Design Summit.