Take off your name badge. Here comes the dark side.

Let’s talk about what went wrong in your geospatial project. We don’t do everything right from the beginning, all the time. Things go wrong. We may choose wrong tools. We may pick low quality data. We may spend enormous time to reinvent the wheel. After a full day of learning experience, here comes the dark side of the story. Really, failure is no reason to be ashamed, and there is huge value in learning from mistakes – but it is so rare to have such venue.

No, we’re not kidding

FAILFaire is increasingly gaining popularity in the ICT4D area. From the pioneer of this event, folks behind the FAIRFaire.org states:

FAILFaire features projects using mobiles and ICTs in international development that have, to put it simply, been a #FAIL. Busted, kaputt. Tongue firmly in cheek, we take a close look at what didn’t work and why the projects failed amidst the ICT4D hype we all are subjected to (and sometimes contributors to). We believe that only if we understand what DOESN’T WORK in this field and stop pushing our failures under the rug, can we collectively learn and get better, more effective, and have greater impact as we go forward.

We work hard and we care about our work. It’s only going to help us improve if we share and learn from things gone wrong rather than sweep them under the rug. Hosting a FailFaire can be a great way for your respective field or organization to openly discuss failed work and learn from the past, especially in the nonprofit and NGO fields where we are so reluctant to discuss our shortcomings in any public (or constructive) way.

Exactly. We ride all the GIS/RS hype being shaped in the ideal development environment, but we’re on the front line of implementing those in the developing world and keep facing harsh reality of, well, things are not always like that. Let’s learn from each other.

So, how does this work?

For 10-minute (or shorter), each presenter will be asked to share their story on:

  • What was the project?
  • What were you trying to do with what data/tools?
  • What was the fail/where did it go wrong?
  • What would you do differently next time (or never do again!)?
  • What lessons can be learned?

Each presentation will be followed by 5-minute open discussion.

Any ground rules?

Absolutely. This is the most critical part, in fact. All the attendees, both presenters and audience, will be asked to follow rules:

  • No live streaming of event.
  • Blogging/tweeting allowed unless someone says that a presentation or parts of the the presentation (or a comment, question, or discussion) are off the record.
  • For pictures, ask permission before taking so that anyone who does not want to be known to have presented or attended isn’t inadvertently outed by a photo.
  • No third party bashing – presenters must have been personally involved in the project they are showcasing in some way.
  • Slides will not be made public unless the presenter him/herself puts them out there. We actually have destroyed the digital copies of slides, especially of those presentations that are off the record.
  • Presenters are there in their personal capacity rather with their organizational affiliation and say so.

Should I care to join/present?

Only if you are absolutely certain there is a real commitment to LEARNING from failure. This is something that is NOT for everyone, and in some cases, it is not appropriate.


In fact, we don’t know yet… (Check back us again soon!)

  • 13 March, 2013
    • 6:00 pm - 8:00 pmFAILFaire Presentations20 minute each (15 min talk + 5 min discussion)