In 1902 Peter Kropotkin published “Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution” in which he wrote about examples of mutual aid he saw while traveling around Europe, including the community shelling of Indian corn-sheaves, the construction of a town mill, and dairy associations. …

Six key insights from our research

I have co-authored a paper with my colleagues at aidx, titled The Promise of Mutual Aid, detailing our findings from research we have conducted over the last year into how refugees support themselves. We used methods from human-centered design to work with Somali, Syrian, and South Sudanese refugees. The full paper is available here.

Key Insights

1. Refugees are ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances.

While their circumstances are extraordinary, many of the concerns of refugees are ones that would be familiar to people everywhere: finding a job, paying the rent, dealing with health bills, and accessing education.

2. The majority of assistance that refugees receive comes from within their social networks and communities.

Networks of self help or, as we refer to them, mutual aid are…

Notes on adapting design sprint methods outside the US context

Part 2: Practice

How might we design a financial inclusion app that will be used by Somali refugees in Kenya?

As the senior product manager at aidx, I’ve been working on the answer to this question. In part 1 I wrote about the theories informing our design practices. What about the details? How does it work on the ground?

We recently spent a month in Nairobi implementing our approach to this design challenge. We ran a design sprint to build a prototype, conducted user testing, gathered lots of new data on the Kenyan financial ecosystem, and made some great new connections in Nairobi’s…

Notes on adapting design sprint methods outside the US context

Part 1: Theory

How do you design a mobile app that will be used by Somali refugees in Kenya?

As the senior product manager at aidx, I’ve been thinking about this question and how technology and design are informed by (and inform) a particular time, place, and culture, including those of its designers and customers. We might strive for design that can be used effectively by all people, but there’s also a reason WeChat lets you send money in a red envelope and the International Red Cross has three different symbols for protection during conflict.

Additionally, there is a real danger in not…

Eight lessons from our experience prototyping products for refugees in Nairobi

By Gordon Mangum, Tarig Hilal, and Gerard McHugh

Eastleigh, Nairobi, Kenya

Building customer-focused products is hard. There are two rules that are essential to follow. Rule number one is to get to know your customer. Rule number two is that the best way to find out if your product has legs is to test it with your customers.

In pursuit of our mission to build mobile-based peer-to-peer financial products for refugees and IDPs the aidx team has spent months conducting in-depth customer research in Kenya, Turkey, and Sudan. In April we began prototyping and testing our ideas with customers in Nairobi.

The Sprint Methodology

Photo by G. Crescoli on Unsplash

Civil combines blockchain technology and journalism in an attempt to create a new, decentralized marketplace for news. As someone deeply interested in the intersection of technology and civics, including the economic feasibility of journalism, I’m certainly interested in buying some tokens and trying it out. But after reading an explanation of the project and the white paper, I’m scratching my head about a few of the benefits the authors outline.

Here’s the high-level summary:

The intent of Civil is to create a mesh network of self-governing news marketplaces where newsmaking, fact-checking and platform sustainability are economically rewarded. The result is…

Originally published at on April 19, 2017.

​Our team of three people working on Deepstream.TV (Gordon Mangum CEO, David Anderton Lead Developer, Vivian Diep Lead Designer) formed around a shared passion: the need for more meaningful news media. Through research we were conducting at the Center for Civic Media in MIT’s Media Lab, and at a news media conference at the lab called “Beyond Comments,” we found each other and started working together on this shared passion.

Individually, we have each been interested in news media for a long time, and we have all previously worked in the news…

Originally published at on August 22, 2016.

By Gordon Mangum

Participants in major breaking news events are increasingly broadcasting live video on the web to provide a source of on-the-ground information to the world. As the attempted coup in Turkey unfolded in 2016, hundreds of people started livestreaming from the streets of Ankara, Istanbul and other cities. These videos provided essential first-hand information, such as how police and military were interacting with civilians, and how road blockades were being enforced.

Originally published at on May 12, 2016.

In 2016 a livestream from protests in Iceland due to revelations in the Panama Papers was viewed over 200,000 times–equal to about two-thirds of the country’s population. Links to the livestream were shared on social media and through sites like Reddit, garnering thousands of comments from viewers about an issue that had only surfaced 24 hours earlier. Two days later, Iceland’s prime minister had resigned.

How did we arrive at this technological point in time? How and why do people broadcast and watch livestreams of newsworthy events? …

Gordon Mangum

Interested in the civic applications and consequences of technology.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store