Infographic: Mass Production

Infographic: Mass Production

Sharing, forking, xeroxing: we have innumerable ways to copy what others have originated. Duplication has been core to modern civilization, allowing our ideas go viral in increasingly tall spikes. But along the way, credit can fall by the wayside, forcing profit-seeking inventors to invest beyond their means in legal protection. […]

Observed: Copycats

Observed: Copycats

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala Daniele Volpe The backdrop of a US skyline enhances portraits for residents who often lack the means to travel. Djabal Refugee Camp, Chad Glenna Gordon Using a wood pen with ink and water, Koranic verse is copied in Arabic calligraphy. Residual water and sometimes the paper itself […]

Observed: Crowds

Observed: Crowds

In back alleys, street markets, and hidden workshops around the world, microentrepreneurs churn out new ideas and products to help them get by or improve the world around them. We could philosophize on this all day. But here in Observed, we ask our correspondents to say nothing. For the next […]

Infographic: Counting the Crowd

Infographic: Counting the Crowd

What happens when a group of people band together? It depends. The organization of a crowd, the tools it uses, and its culture all determine its impact. Is it structured to collaborate or fight? Does each node have ways to connect with and trust the others? Do its members require […]

Infographic: Sizing the Swap

Infographic: Sizing the Swap

A tit-for-tat, a rub of the back—things don’t change hands without a reason. And they don’t move freely or fairly without trust. Here, we explore the agreements that make trade tick. From street-market haggling techniques to global supply chains and treaties, the nature of exchange comes down to the decisions […]

Observed: Trade

Observed: Trade

In back alleys, street markets, and hidden workshops around the world, microentrepreneurs churn out new ideas and products to help them get by or improve the world around them. We could philosophize on this all day. But here in Observed, we ask our correspondents to say nothing. So for the […]

Colour Outside the Lines

Colour Outside the Lines

Here at Makeshift, we’re helping spread the word about Colour Outside the Lines, a reverse innovation challenge looking for ideas in emerging markets that can be applied to healthcare in Canada. Think new cataract procedures or cellphone-activated EKG machines. Or, in line with stories we’ve run, low-cost prosthetics, solar powered […]

Streetside Stories: Getting By

Streetside Stories: Getting By

The sidewalk hustle: hawkers, vendors, merchants, traders, and craftsman, their wares lined up on tables or spread out on plastic tarps. The shouts, sounds, and smells of streetside commerce are unique in every corner of the world, with each culture putting a local twist on this brand of work.

The Best Designs for Your Product Lifetime

The Best Designs for Your Product Lifetime

We worked with Autodesk, Core77, and iFixit to create the Design for (Your) Product Lifetime competition, a challenge that tasked students to envision a product of the future: durable, repairable, and easily broken down into components for recycling when its useful life was over.

Criminal Comms

Criminal Comms

Last year, Mexican police raided the drug cartel Los Zetas three times. They weren’t looking for cocaine or marijuana; they were targeting the homegrown radio network that stretches across the northeastern chunk of the country, where the Zetas control drug and migrant smuggling routes.