Ubuntu

Most of the time Ubuntu is associated with the well-known distribution of the Linux operating system—a main topic of discussion in books that contains this keyword in their title. But it can also be interesting to learn something more not only about the origin of the word, but the practice behind it. A great explanation I saw: "Ubuntu is an African humanist philosophy that focuses on being peaceful, prosperous community, where riches are shared and people are treated with respect." According to Wikipedia, characteristics of this philosophy include extroverted communities, socialisation of prosperity, redemption, deference to hierarchy, humanism.

In Europe, we have the notion that only the practices from more prosperous places could be good for our future. East Europeans try to copy from West Europeans and West Europeans from Americans. This is a potential problem, because things can't be transferred so simply from one place to another without in some way affecting what supported them. Sometimes it might make sense to look at various places and combine multiple philosophies and not just look for a single, well-established one. Europe could possibly be better off with some greater level of socialisation of prosperity and the search to improve relationships between divided and diverse people, through better blending of their individual characteristics in the whole. Cultural exchange is just one way to do that. Speaking the language of others seems to be important in Ubuntu and the lack of a common language is very often problematic in Europe. All EU countries want to be married, but they aren't always willing to communicate for that, partially forgetting how the daily dating process looks like. Today, more than ever, we need to find our voice back.

Through design, we also try to speak the language of others, so we could see it as a tool to support Ubuntu, even if that might not be obvious at first. This means that design, when done right, is inclusive and fosters open communication and exchange of viewpoints and criticism. We can only solve problems we know of and not ones that weren't pronounced. The question is whether we can identify ways to contribute to the overall feeling of unity. Pete Smart, the designer behind "50 problems in 50 days", saw the problem that people in tube trains were staying too close to the doors due to fear that they might miss their station, making it hard for new ones to enter where there was enough available space. After interviewing some people having the problem, he decided to draw a Monopoly in the train, so that each passenger has a field where he could stay. When doors were open, people could see the "Go" sign, a small "Just visiting" area and could decide in the interior which properties they would like to occupy. Through the game, he created the common language people needed to communicate, but without the need to constantly disturb themselves, leading to a peaceful, humane and respectful solution. Ubuntu in action.

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