Covid-19 one could say, is a thing of the past. However, the lingering effects can still be seen today. Although pain, suffering, isolation, and many online Zoom calls are associated with this period, some positive outcomes have emerged from the pandemic. For example, we can look towards the trailblazing organization TechForGood. It utilized the pandemic as a source of inspiration to bring individuals from the community to uphold principles that employ appropriate technology, design thinking, and sustainability to create assistive tech.

As Saad Chinoy states, “an unintended consequence of being forced to do online things has this unexpected positive benefits of equalizing everyone and so.. we are relatively better now at trying to troubleshoot tech issues, and so that’s exactly the skills the people who volunteered could bring to the table and trying to apply that skill [to help fix tech]”. The Professional Geek individual Saad embodies the qualities of a geek, a maker, and a coffee enthusiast and, as a result, continues to catalyze spaces for creativity to flourish. As the co-founder of SpudnikLab, a startup geared toward tackling the digital divide, he emphasizes affordable technologies and teaching digital skills. Additionally, Saad has spearheaded SalvageGarden, a nonprofit maker space in Singapore focusing on developing assistive technology to empower individuals in need.

Computers against Covid is one of many projects that Saad works on. The project aims to refurbish laptops and re-home these devices to low-income families so they may still be digitally connected. While Singapore is known for its high level of connectivity and digital infrastructure, there can still be disparities in access to technology, particularly among marginalized or economically disadvantaged groups. Covid-19 has played a huge role in unearthing this information. We see this pan out in a journal article titled, “FROM DIGITAL EXCLUSION TO UNIVERSAL DIGITAL ACCESS IN SINGAPORE” where according to their research it’s said stated by the Infocomm and Media Development Authority (IMDA), a substantial percentage of resident households in “The Lion City“, precisely 89%, have access to a computer. In comparison, an impressive 98% have access to the Internet (IMDA, 2019). However, it’s important to note that these statistics alone do not provide insights into access ownership, duration, or quality.

Even though streamlining efforts by the government are running smoothly , the results are seen through the efforts of nonprofits such as EngineeringGood where they have “distributed more than 6,000 laptops as of March 2022” and continue to increase this number. In the end, it is all in the goals of teaching members of society to use the opportunity provided by a nonprofit or charity to answer a call or cause that helps give back to the community. Not only that, projects such as TechforGood and EngineeringGood enable the volunteers to heighten their skills as they live a life of opportunities. To teach members of society with no previous experience in such fields how to modify, fix, and create something meaningful and effective.

Some other projects Saad has been working on that “Make Things Make Sense” are:

Makerspaces should encourage individuals to cultivate the skill of adaptability to make the most of their current circumstances and available resources to foster an open mindset. Doing so allows individuals to take apart commercially made mass-produced objects, and let people learn how to modify and create something meaningful and effective for their community and the wider world.

Please take a moment to watch Saad’s makerspace mentoring video below.

Looking for more inspiration on Critical Making? Check out more resources HERE.


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