Webby for Good is a collaborative program formed by The Webby Awards and WP Engine to showcase Webby-recognized projects built to change the world.
What’s the elevator pitch for your project?
At NowThis it’s our mission to spotlight young people who are pushing for change and finding new solutions for the world’s biggest problems. How I Changed The World is a series that will highlight these young people, hear their ideas, and watch them take the first big steps toward success. In this video, Boyan Slat tells the story of how his mission to rid the world’s oceans of plastic litter almost failed.
What was the impetus for this project? What real-world challenge were you trying to solve?
Our hope is that by sharing this video people will learn that concrete positive change is not only possible, it’s already occurring. By learning how Boyan struggled through exceptional challenges folks around the globe will become inspired to move and shake their communities toward positive change.
The breakthrough moment was connecting the dots that every change maker fails. And that it’s only through these failures that one learns how to succeed. In this video, Boyan reveals how after years of research, development, and testing his original design wouldn’t work. His courage to switch course put the team on a path toward success.
Once you settled on your idea, what was your first step in moving it forward?
The first step, for many projects like this, is identifying candidates who are ready and willing to tell their story. After learning of Boyan’s story we worked with The Ocean Cleanup to find time to sit down with him and capture his journey in video.
Was there a moment during the project where you ran into a hurdle; or faced a problem you didn’t know how to solve? Take us to this moment, what happened and what did you do next?
On the day of production we were hoping to film the interview portion of the video outside overlooking San Francisco Bay. We had set up for about an hour before the interview was set to start when huge gusts of winds blew over some of our equipment. In a split second decision we decided to move the interview inside to provide a more controlled environment.
Did the real-world impact meet your expectations? Can you share an example?
Based on the discussions happening, in the comments, across Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter this video is a major success. Hearing that teachers are sharing this video in classes and folks are discussing the best way to tackle the problem of ocean plastic debris ensures that this topic will be on our radar as a species in the future.
What technologies/media did you use to develop this project (AI, Social Media, WordPress, etc.)?
Data from our social media platforms informed the decision to green light this series concept and also informed the video’s format.
Was the tech/medium you chose crucial to conveying your message? If so, why?
Yes, at NowThis we believe in finding the audience where they are. And as such, we crafted this video for maximum impact on all distributed platforms.
How did this project defy your expectations?
It’s one thing to imagine the intelligence, teamwork, and ingenuity of the people who dedicate their time and effort to important causes and it’s quite another to meet them. The Ocean Cleanup team is international, engaged, and busy creating a system that will eventually help solve our oceans plastic problem and it was beyond exciting to get a front row seat.
How will you use technology in future work to create inspiring, cutting-edge projects that also make a difference in people’s lives?
At NowThis we will continue to be the conduit for young people around the world to tell their stories and engage in meaningful discussions about the issues that matter. And we’ll also continue to explore new media venues for those stories.