What’s in a name?

Q:  What do we call this emerging field, anyway?

“Design for Development”?  “Design for the ‘Base of the Pyramid'”?  “Design for Social Impact” or “…for Social Innovation”?  These last two seem to be coming into adoption, and I like them, but what about when we want to specify a focus on communities and challenges in the developing world, helping people with the fewest resources and the greatest need?

In talking with designers recently—some who are working on these challenges at places like IDEO (launching IDEO.org this fall), Catapult Design and Design Impact—it seems to be the consensus that this is an emerging field.  Something that more and more designers are coming to, just as more people of all professions are seeking more meaning in their work and their careers.  Invention and innovation happens every day in both the developed and developing world, but willfully applying design principles, practices and talents can add a valuable, unique dimension.

The most important part of this field, of course, is the work.  But everything is clearer when a thing has a name.  And one that is short, widely accepted by those who practice it, and helpfully descriptive to those who don’t, is a very useful thing.  For myself, I’m looking for something definitive to tell people when they ask “What do you do?” and for the common name to use as I look for other people like me.  For the blog, it needs a clearly named subject and the best possible title, and sooner is better than later (for the sake of consistency, but also things like url’s, twitter names, hashtags and so on).

A: …

What you think?  I’ll be asking this question of everyone I can.  Add your thoughts in a comment below, and pass this on to others to ask them what they think.  Everything’s on the table for discussion (name, blog title, hashtags, etc), so don’t hold back.

Thanks for your input, and for pushing the conversation!