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Search for the Obvious: Document Past Solutions to Solve Modern Problems

October 6th, 2010

Search for the Obvious, initiated by Acumen Fund, encourages us to take a closer look at our surroundings. On the website, they pose the question, “What everyday objects or services have changed the world and make life better?”

It’s a good question. And Search for the Obvious contains nearly a hundred of them.

When viewers visit the site, they can scroll through simple ideas that caused a change. Posts are submitted by other users and include things like ambulances, water purification, rubber boots, the stove, grafting, mosquito nets and eyeglasses, just to name a few. Clicking on any photo reveals the post, where a user answers what life would be like without the object and the problems it has solved.

We also see some surprises, like solar LED lighting, which has plenty of potential to solve problems but hasn’t quite significantly impacted everyone as much at this point. Or another user’s submission, typography. There truly is a spectrum of value.

So what’s the point, right? We can spend a lifetime assembling an index of vital objects and services, but Search for the Obvious is looking to take the project one step further. Collecting objects is only the first stage in the process. Acumen Fund will be asking volunteers to put their “chops on display” by changing the world’s approach to resolving poverty. Quite the ambitious goal. But if there’s one thing Search for the Obvious demonstrates, it’s that even the smallest, simplest ideas have the potential to change the world.

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