The annual Gates Letter is out. I was struck by a number of facts and encouragements presented in the report. I was also impressed by the use of the web medium to present the annual report and call to action. I offer some stunning insights as encouragement to you this week. First, as a call to social action and the certainty of both financial gain AND social responsibility. Second, as an example of the use of multiple media to present with passion and engagement.
1. Content Precedes Design
The presentation of the Gates Letter is captivating. From the large scale photos, to the muted graphs, to both video animation and live action, the “letter” is a multimedia experience. But, it would be ineffective without the compelling factoids, personal stories, and parsed data presented. As the tweet suggests, the primary consideration is content. Once content is solid, wow with the presentation. If you need some inspiration, check with the Gates Foundation.
“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.” – Jeffrey Zeldman
— Kevin Wood (@keewood) January 25, 2015
2. Optimism Matters
It was @NeilTyson that got me thinking on this topic today. The Gates Foundation interviewed him in their roll out of the Gates Letter. Dr. Tyson talked about the vision, investment, and change that was needed to get America to the moon. “Because that was made possible, in our minds, everything else was possible as well on the same or shorter time scale,” he spoke emphatically in the video.
We accomplish anything by first envisioning it. It’s a thought echoed by motivational speakers, Super Soul Sunday, the Secret, and ancient life practices from around the world. If we never construct the reality in our minds, we can never manifest that reality in the physical world. On the other hand, if we see it, if we bet on it, if we commit to it, we will see results.
— Gates Foundation (@gatesfoundation) January 24, 2015
3. Technology is for Good
I encourage you to read that statement in the multiple ways that it can be interpreted. Indeed, our understanding of mechanisms of nature and our ability to approximate them will increase. Also, this new knowledge is meant for efficiency, justice, progress, equity and general social good. We borrow from nature. Let’s honor nature by ensuring that the cycle of social good to safety in community to knowledge advance to social good continues.
— Better Than Cash (@BetterThan_Cash) January 25, 2015
4. The Complexity is Discernible
I know this based on my training in complex systems. But, it’s also well presented in the Gates Letter. Multiple needs present multiple opportunities. Large obstacles hide amazing returns. High risk equals generational rewards. And, the list is predictible: mobile technology, agriculture yield enhancement, mortality reduction, reigning in climate change, and software to revolutionize learning. Surely more problems exist. But, just as planning a trip to the moon, our minds are capable of finding solutions to each of the new problems as they present themselves. We can successfully accomplish the goals we are motivated to set.
The Gates Letter 2015 ends with a request that each reader take on the challenge to be a Global Citizen. It’s a call that stretches each of us to think beyond ourselves while acting for ourselves via consideration for others. Complex, yes. But, it is an awareness that your future is enhanced by the well-being of others. It resonates with me because it is not a call to support or help in the simplistic, altruistic sense. It is a call to consider in the business case sense. If you understand marketing, you understand the power of growing your market. Status as a Global Citizen is the consideration that justice and investment in communities around the world build a healthy, capable, sustainable market for YOU. And, the cycle of social good continues.
— Global Citizen UK (@GlblCtznUK) January 25, 2015