HunchWorks is an online tool proposed by the UN’s Global Pulse initiative to help people gain the critical mass they need to identify and solve global problems. During our summer at Adaptive Path’s Austin office, Shad Gross and I had the privilege of working for five weeks on this ambitious project.

HunchWorks allows people to create and discuss hypotheses, or ‘hunches,’ about what’s happening in the world to help solve issues such as humanitarian crises. A hunch might be as simple as validating whether or not an event took place, or as complex as tracking the effects of regional droughts on food availability, population displacement, and violence in regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. Researchers and experts, for instance, may discover anomalies that trigger further investigation and analysis work, while a local landowner could create a hunch to investigate problems with a water supply. Strong support of the dialogue surrounding hunches is a key necessity, as that dialogue is used as a means to help move people to action and address crises before they happen.

HunchWorks Open Design Sessions

During weekly Open Design Sessions, other designers were invited to join us in collaborative design sessions.

This complex network of information required a robust system that could support the diverse range of problems and dialogue within. We helped shape the product by identifying the core needs of HunchWorks, and collaboratively designing solutions to specific challenges through weekly design sprints and Open Design Sessions. Designing this system also required a significant amount of research into supporting online conversation and argumentation models. Our support helped Global Pulse define and clarify the following four problems.

  • Creating a reliable network of support for contributors.
  • Supporting hunch exploration and action.
  • Outlining the complexities of hunch credibility and verification.
  • Exploring and defining how hunches evolve over time.

UX Week 2011 provided an additional opportunity to support this project, where we helped lead a hands-on design workshop with Adaptive Path and Global Pulse.

Some design sketches

HunchWorks was supported by a large amount of sketching and synthesis.

HunchWorks Concepts

Some higher-fidelity conceptualization was used to illustrate specific concepts and ideas.

All the thinking and output generated in this project is publicly available and licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution, Share Alike (CC-BY SA) license. More information about HunchWorks and some of our work on the topic can be found at the following links: