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Posts in category 'Public services'

12 April 2012

Boston Citizens Connect

bcc

With its Citizens Connect app, Boston is showing how to use technology to empower citizens and involve them in the inner workings of the city. Hana Schank reports on FastCo.Exist.

“Some cities seem to take an approach to digital that either involves throwing a bunch of stuff against a wall to see what sticks, or focusing on back-end upgrades that are largely invisible to citizens. Boston, however, has a unique approach which has not only earned it recognition as a top digital city, but which also allows the city to develop truly user-centered digital applications.

Co-chaired by Nigel Jacob and Chris Osgood, the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics acts more like an open-door digital consultancy than just another city agency in that it spends time talking to city agencies and citizens alike in order to find out what people need and then developing accordingly. In other words, the office gets users involved throughout the process in a meaningful way, and the result is apps that work.”

Read article

6 April 2012

Don Tapscott: The internet’s real killer app is saving the planet

Screen Shot 2012-04-06 at 14.38.27

All our global institutions — from the United Nations to the World Trade Organization to the International Monetary Fund to the G20 to the G8 — are broken, according to Don Tapscott, the best-selling author of Macrowikinomics.

In an 8 minute video interview on TechCrunch – recorded last week at The Economist‘s Innovation event in Berkeley – he outlined how we can rebuild these global institutions in the digital 21st century.

We need to rebuild our institutions around open source technology, wikis, social media and all the other distributed models that are shaping our networked world, says Tapscott, who has brought together a number of other leading thinkers – Jonathan Zittrain from Harvard and writers Parag Khanna and Richard Florida, for example – to participate in this ambitious project to reinvent the planet in our digital century.

It sounds highly if not over-ambitious.

Watch video

4 April 2012

On Facebook, some friendly energy rivalry

opower-blog480

Opower [is a company] that blends behavioral science and data analysis to find ways to help utilities get their customers to use less electricity.

[Their] thinking is that it’s not so much factual information that motivates behavioral change — knowing that smoking is bad for you, or that most electricity generation emits heat-trapping carbon dioxide – but the way that such information plays off social relationships and creates peer pressure. Now the company is harnessing social media to further that kind of psychological connection as well.

Teaming with Facebook, energy conservation advocates and the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, Opower released a new app on Tuesday that will allow interested parties in 20 million households served by 16 utilities to post their energy use on their Facebook pages and invite friends to do so as well. The option is available from participating utilities in California, New York and points in between.

Read article

21 March 2012

Helsinki Street Eats: a book about everyday food

helsinkifood

Helsinki Street Eats: a book about everyday food
By Bryan Boyer and Dan Hill, with contributions from Ville Tikka, Nuppu Gävert, Tea Tonnov, and Kaarle Hurtig.
Sitra / Low2No

Street food describes systems of everyday life. In its sheer everydayness we discover attitudes to public space, cultural diversity, health, regulation and governance, our habits and rituals, logistics and waste, and more.

It can be an integral part of our public life, our civic spaces, our streets, our neighbourhoods. Street food can help us articulate our own culture, as well as enriching it by absorbing diverse influences. And it can enable innovation at an accelerated pace by offering a lower-risk environement for experimentation.

Street food can do all of these things, but it doesn’t necessarily.

This book is an attempt to unpack what’s working and what isn’t in Helsinki, and sketch out some trajectories as to where it could go next.

We see that the history of Helsinki’s street food is inextricably tied to food in Finland in general, and so it is caught up in deep currents of regulation, politics, commerce, national identity and culture. As unlikely as it may seem, when viewed from this historical and cultural perspective, street food might be a powerful force for shaping everyday life. It also presents an economic opportunity.

The Low2No project is interested in understanding these systems of everyday life, in order to assess how best to support, influence, and invest into them to enable a greater capacity for sustainable well-being. We’re interested in enabling food entrepreneurship with an eye towards diversity, quality, and sustainability – this short book is our first step towards our next projects in this space. Take a bite – download a PDF or order a print-on-demand copy – and get in touch if you want more.

See also: Bryan Boyer’s blog post on the book

14 March 2012

M-Government – Mobile technologies for responsive governments and connected societies

m-government

This report by Hani Eskandar (ITU), Barbara- Chiara Ubaldi (OECD) and Vyacheslav Cherkasov (UN-DESA) highlights the critical potential of mobile technologies for improved public governance, as well as for economic and social progress in achieving the internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The September 2011 report also provides an in-depth analysis of the prerequisites for m-government, its main benefits and challenges, the value-chain and key stakeholders, and the checklist of concrete actions to sustain policy makers in monitoring and updating their knowledge on m-government.

Chapters:
1. Toward the next generation of public services
2. Benefits and outcomes of m-government
3. Understanding m-government adoption
4. Prerequisites for agility and ubiquity
5. Technology options for mobile solutions
6. M-Vision and a call to action

The report was drafted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

Download report

(via MobileActive)

20 November 2011

Enabling codesign

Codesign
The term co-design refers to a philosophical and political approach to design best applied throughout the design life cycle. Codesign builds on the methods and principles of Participatory Design which assumes ‘users’ are the experts of their own domain and should be actively involved in the design process.

This article explores some of the methodological tools design strategist Penny Hagen and design researcher Natalie Rowland use to enable codesign. Specifically, they explore the rationale behind some common workshop techniques used early in the design process, which combine the activities of research and idea generation.

Read article

10 November 2011

Transforming behaviour change

Transforming behaviour change
The RSA’s latest report, Transforming Behaviour Change: Beyond Nudge and Neuromania, argues for a more sophisticated understanding of the relationship between our social challenges, our behaviours and our brains.

Abstract

The Government is taking behavioural science very seriously, but existing nudge-based approaches to behaviour change tend to represent what Aditya Chakraborty called “Cute technocratic solutions to most minor problems”. The major adaptive challenges of our time, including debt, climate change, public health and mental health, require a deeper and more ambitious approach.

Transforming Behaviour Change argues for a more sophisticated understanding of the relationship between our social challenges, our behaviours and our brains, based on a considered response to two major cultural developments. The first is the growing ascendancy of neuroscientific interpretations of human behaviour, leading to fears of reductionism and pharmaceutical control. The second is behaviour change becoming an explicit goal of government policy, leading to fears of Government manipulation and coercion.

The report critically engages with these two developments, and proposes an alternative approach to behaviour change that builds on existing public and professional interest in brains and behaviour. We set out to shift attention away from the threatening idea of ‘science as authority’, justifying moral judgements, medical interventions and policy positions, and focus instead on the more productive notion of ‘science as provocation’, helping people foster the kinds of self-awareness and behaviour change they are seeking to develop.

12 October 2011

Mr Cameron, it’s time to get the designers in

Sitra meeting
Ageing populations and budget cuts mean devising a new social contract. So why not use real designers – it’s worked in Finland, asks Justin McGuirk, design writer at The Guardian.

“If a country has the best education system in the world, it could be forgiven for resting on its laurels. Yet Finland, which routinely tops the Pisa education rankings, refuses to do so. The country has other major issues on the agenda, such as how to become carbon neutral and how to look after the most rapidly ageing population in Europe. And when the nation wants to address these questions, it turns to Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund. Most governments have a cluster of thinktanks and policy groups at their disposal to tackle their country’s challenges. But what’s different about Sitra is that it uses designers.”

Read article

(Disclosure: Experientia is consultant to Sitra.)

12 October 2011

Guardian Tech Weekly podcast: creating a digital public space

Jemima Kiss
Jemima Kiss examines plans for a digital public space with the British Library, the Royal Opera House and the BBC.

“How can we preserve analogue culture in a digital world? Could something allow us to view, research & remix cultural items? Jemima Kiss examines plans for a digital public space – a part of the internet that could grant worldwide access and create links between museums, archives and libraries.

Jemima talks to Richard Ranft of the British Library and Francesca Franchi of the Royal Opera House about the items and artefacts from their archives that a digital public space could open up to the public, and how the reach of both organisations can be dramatically extended to a worldwide audience.

Bill Thompson, head of partnerships at the BBC’s archive (but also of the Digital Planet and Click programmes) explains how the corporation could help build what is needed, and how it could work.

And Jill Cousins of europeana.eu discusses how similar project that is funded by the European Commission works, and how it has now developed into a full service.”

Listen to podcast

27 September 2011

Low2No Camp: entrepreneurial ideas to activate Low2No vision

Low2No
Article by Experientia® collaborator Irene Cassarino, with additional input from Jan-Christoph Zoels.

 

How do you create community services and business models for a carbon neutral building block before the buildings stand?

Thirty Finnish entrepreneurs came together last Tuesday (20 September 2011) in Helsinki to present innovative business and service models for a carbon neutral to negative building block in the Helsinki docklands Jätkäsaari.

Campers are urban enthusiasts that were challenged to develop entrepreneurial projects around sustainable living in a urban environment – with the ultimate aim of activating the Low2No vision beyond the perimeter of the 22.000 sqm of the Airut* block on Jätkäsaari.

The Low2No Camp was sponsored by Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, and supported by Demos Helsinki and Experientia.

 


The Low2No block will be ready by Summer 2013. The foundations are not yet there, but excavators are already working to make the site ready. The first buildings of the Jätkäsaari neighbourhood are already under construction.

(Click images to enlarge)


On Tuesday afternoon, the Campers presented their concept ideas to an audience of stakeholders, experts and possible investors.

Indeed, while for us (the designers) the event had the bittersweet flavour of closure, for the Campers it was just the beginning of a possible entrepreneurial path. Their adventure started in June, when – along with the Demos Helsinki crew – they sustainably travelled (boat + train) to the Maker Lab in Berlin. Refreshed and excited through the intense and multicultural brainstorming sessions, they came back to Helsinki with five preliminary ideas to be grown into concept and eventually entrepreneurial proposals.

 

The Low2No Camp final showcase event took place at the Jätkäsaari information centre, where future developments of the site are depicted through information panels and interactive screens.

(Click image to enlarge)


When we met them after their Berlin campaign, the five teams of Campers were so excited about their oversea experience that helping them to boil down their ideas into viable concepts has been at the same time amazing and challenging.

Not all propositions survived the Summer break and – as always happens when voluntary effort and self motivation are the main drivers of action – the geometry of teams also changed. They all have another job after all, as the majority of budding entrepreneurs have, and some people’s availability decreased when the new season started.

 

Demos and Experientia® contributed to support Campers' concept development from idea generation to the 10 minutes pitch.

(Click image to enlarge)


The five ventures presented at the final events were – in brief:

1. 100 ways to Eden is a social enterprise that makes urban food production as integral part of our everyday life.

The carbon footprint of an industrialised food production is enormous, not to mention other negative impacts on nature, social environment and health.

The most effective way to improve the situation is to turn urban food consumers into urban food producers. This change will be possible through intensive research, education, development and networking. There is a greener and better future for all.

The first projects that will make the “shift to Eden” start to happen within next few years include:

  • Multiple “Laaritalkoot”: service of small scale planters, greenhuts, composters, aquaponics (see below) etc.
  • Experimental “Green lighthouse” serves as community and information hub.
  • Edenet: Web services for information, discussion, networking, support from the growing urban community of gardeners.

Team members: Pinja Sipari, Kirmo Kivelä, Kaisa Nirkkonen, Tomi Oravainen, Minna Ritoluoma

Minna Ritoluoma presenting 100 ways to Eden

(Click image to enlarge)


2. Aquaponics Finland designs and commercialises hydroponic irrigation and gardening systems. Aquaponics aims at replacing traditional issues surrounding access to food by essentially bringing scalable farming into the home, into the courtyard – including a warehouse scenario that in addition to supporting local food demands, handles logistics for local aquaponics users.

The project (slide presentation) will enable a considerable decrease in carbon impact due to reduced transportation, processing of food & logistics, with the added benefit of having fresh organic food grown within the fiber of the community.

Team members: Antti Kirjalainen, Peter Kuria

 

3. Pukuhuone.fi – ”Dressing Room” is an ecological style guide which believes in style before fashion, sharing before ownership and storytelling before ignorance.

It brings together local designers and artisans, vintage shops, flea markets, tailors and shoemakers, laundries and repair services to create a platform which leads the consumer to dress up with a bit more love and care.

On a larger scale pukuhuone.fi aims to slow down fashion, speed up sharing and make old (recycled, shared, something with a story) more valuable than new (anonymous, with no personality, silent).

Pukuhuone.fi fights against faceless mass production, poor quality materials, information overload and fast fashion which creates needs people don’t really have. Style will save us but we need good storytellers to make that happen.

Team members: Hanna Linkola, Outi Ugas, Anniina Nurmi, Minna Ainoa, Laura Puromies, Outi Pyy, Arto Sivonen

 

4. School of Activism is a world-traveling series of urban activist workshops and festivals: a platform for those who shape our urban future.

Two groups of 30 selected participants – activists, producers, innovators, artists, and allround urban mavericks from all around the globe – come together in a new city each year for two weeks worth of creative sessions, lectures by urban luminaries, and unforgettable urban interventions.

The School organises workshops both from pioneering mavericks of old and trailblazing innovators of the present, followed by sessions that put that breadth of knowledge and inspiration into practice to solve urban problems.

School of activisms offers the chance to solve actual problems in some of the host city’s suburbs: with plenty of time to chat on cool new ideas, get to know each other, get a glimpse into local happenings and places, and ask the questions people were always keen on asking.

Team members: Heta Kuchka, Arto Sivonen and Olli Sirén

Heta Kuchka presenting School of Activism
(Click image to enlarge)


5. Ab Hukkatila Oy – Ab Waste Ltd does toward space what internet did toward information.

Hukkatila is an development company with an eye on urban places that are empty, underused, or shunned but do have potential because of their location, demand for certain functions in the area, their unique design, unintentional and unseen attractiveness and functions. Development strategies focus are temporary usage, mixed use or ‘life after urban death’ scenarios.

The goal is to create more enjoyable urban environment, regenerate the local communities, promote mixed use of places and develop replicable concepts of synergistic space and property sharing.

Hukkatila exploits sophisticated place-bound architecture, integrated with urban food and energy saving ecosystems, open source apps for built environment, in order to make unlikely processes and collaborations happen.

Team members: Eve Astala, Virkkala Inari, Inari Penttilä, Jaakko Lehtonen, Lari Lohikoski

 

Camper Eero Yli-Vakkuri also took the chance to present No Chair Design Challenge, the provoking challenge to worldwide designers not to design any chairs for all 2012.

Are you a designer? Then look at the tutorial (video).

During their presentations Campers collected plenty of audience feedback. Next steps include a colloquium with an experienced VC and business mentor from Sitra to advice teams business and managerial approach.

Good luck to all from Experientia!

 

* The Airut Block

The block which is the result of the Low2No project will be called Airut.

Airut signifies a “forerunner” and “messenger” in Finnish, thus it is conceptually easy to link to the idea and spirit of Low2No. The block aims to be a forerunner in sustainable building and construction, as well as to spread and promote the ideas of the Low2No model of sustainable urban living.

Airut is an old Finnish word which has Germanic roots. It has been used in spoken language for about 1000 years, and was introduced in written language for the first time in 1745.

It is not commonly used in Finnish spoken language today, thus it has a fresh sound to it. Also, it can rarely be found in brand or company names.

 

Links:
Low2No website
Low2No Camp
Profiles of Campers
Low2No campers facebook page
Demos Finland website

20 September 2011

Behavioural insights could save millions of pounds

Behavioural Insights
Using behavioural insights could save taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds over the course of the [UK] Parliament and thousands of lives a year, according to an annual report published today.

The Government’s Behavioural Insights Team annual report outlines a series of new approaches it has tested over the past year to increase people’s health, encourage them to make their houses more energy efficient or boost tax repayment rates.

The report also includes ideas the team is working on alongside Government departments to reduce public sector fraud and error.

The early successes have led to widespread interest in applying behavioural approaches across Government.

he Behavioural Insights Team was set up by the Government in July 2010 to find innovative and cost-effective ways to change people’s behaviour. It is the first of its kind in the world.

Examples of how behavioural insights have been applied in 2010-11 include:

  • Organ donation – a ‘required choice’ for online vehicle licence applicants was introduced from 31 July. It is estimated that this will more than double the proportion joining the register and bring an extra million donors over the course of this Parliament
  • Healthier food – salt in pre-prepared food is to be reduced by 15% on 2010 targets as part of a voluntary agreement with industry. It is estimated that this will save around 4,500 lives a year.
  • Consumer empowerment – giving consumers access to data held about them by firms, in electronic form. This is likely to revolutionise the relationship between consumers and firms.
  • Environment – Energy Performance Certificates have been redesigned. These will help 1.4m households a year from 2012 understand how efficient their home is relative to others, and how they can best act to save money and CO.
  • Tax – a self-assessment debt campaign using behavioural insights contributed to increased tax being paid by £350m in the first six weeks of the campaign, much earlier than the comparable period last year. This included changing letters to explain that most people in their local area had already paid their taxes, a trial of which boosted repayment rates by around 15%.

Source: UK Cabinet Office
Further background in The Guardian newspaper

17 September 2011

Book: In Studio – Recipes for Systemic Change

Recipes for Systemic Change
In Studio: Recipes for Systemic Change
by Bryan Boyer, Justin W. Cook, Marco Steinberg
Helsinki Design Lab (HDL) / Sitra
2011, 337 pages
> Free download
> Blog post

This book explores the HDL Studio Model, a unique way of bringing together the right people, a carefully framed problem, a supportive place, and an open-ended process to craft an integrated vision and sketch the pathway towards strategic improvement. It’s particularly geared towards problems that have no single owner.

It includes an introduction to Strategic Design, a “how-to” manual for organizing Studios, and three practical examples of what an HDL Studio looks like in action. Geoff Mulgan, CEO of NESTA, has written the foreword and Mikko Kosonen, President of Sitra, contributed the afterword.

About The Authors

Bryan Boyer
At Sitra, Bryan is a part of the Strategic Design Unit where he focuses on building the Helsinki Design Lab initia- tive to foster strategic design as a way of working in Finland and abroad. This includes the Studio Model, as well as the HDL Global event and website. In his spare time Bryan searches for innovative uses of walnuts, a fascination that stems from growing up on a walnut farm in California. Previously Bryan has worked as an independent architect, software programmer, and technology entrepreneur. He received his BFA with Honors from the Rhode Island School of Design, and his M.Arch from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Justin W. Cook
As Sitra’s Sustainable Design Lead, Justin is working at the intersection of climate change and the built environment. He led content development for the Low2No competition and is focusing on Low2No as a development model that aims to balance economy, ecology and society through strategic investments and interventions in existing cities. He has previously worked in the Renzo Piano Building Workshop in Genova, Italy; as a design researcher on the Harvard Stroke Pathways project; and was the principal of a design-build firm in Seattle. Justin received his BA from the University of Washington and his M.Arch from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Marco Steinberg
Marco directs Sitra’s internal strategic design efforts, charting new forward-oriented opportunities to help Sitra meet its mission of enhancing Finland’s national innovation ability and well being. In addition to Helsinki Design Lab he is responsible for the concept and design-development of Low2No, a transitional strategy to create sustainable urban development models in Finland through the implementation of a large scale development project in downtown Helsinki.
His previously experiences include: Professor at the Harvard Design School (1999-2009); advising governments on SME & design funding strategies; and running his own design & architecture practice. He received his BFA and BArch from Rhode Island School of Design and his MArch with Distinction from the Harvard Design School.

9 September 2011

What does it mean to design public services?

Prototyping framework
Design thinking and techniques can help create radical innovations needed to meet the challenges facing local communities and services, says Philip Colligan, executive director of Nesta‘s public services lab.

“What we’re now learning is that there are low-cost and low-risk ways to apply design techniques like prototyping to innovation for even the most sensitive of social challenges. We’re also finding it’s possible for public servants to learn those techniques and that has got to be a priority for any organisation trying to find innovative solutions to big social challenges.”

Read article

Note that Nesta and thinkpublic have recently published a framework for prototyping in public services.

2 August 2011

Design research: what is it and why do it?

Design research
In a long post on reBoot, Panthea Lee has laid out some basic principles, approaches, and tools of design research so public institutions can better understand how it serves their work.

As pointed out by Tricia Wang, the article is extremely helpful in its clear distinction between design research and market research:

“Market research identifies and acts upon optimal market and consumer leverage points to achieve success. Its definition of success is not absolute, though metrics are often financial. Design research, on the other hand, is founded in the belief that we already know the optimal market and consumer leverage points: human needs. Unearthing and satisfying those needs is thus the surest measure of success. Through this process, we earn people’s respect and loyalty.”

Interesting too, the case study about rural education in Suriname.

Read article

19 July 2011

Report published on Behaviour Change

Behaviour Change
The main conclusion of the Behaviour Change report, published today by the UK House of Lords Science and Technology Sub-Committee, is that ‘nudging’ on its own is unlikely to be successful in changing the population’s behaviour.

The report – the culmination of a year-long investigation into the way the Government tries to influence people’s behaviour using behaviour change interventions – finds that “nudges” used in isolation will often not be effective in changing the behaviour of the population. Instead, a whole range of measures – including some regulatory measures – will be needed to change behaviour in a way that will make a real difference to society’s biggest problems.

The committee also argues for the appointment of an independent chief social scientist.

Announcement (with video)
Report: HTML| PDF

The report launch comes only a few weeks after the publication of the Behaviour Change and Energy Use report by the Behavioural Insight Team of David Cameron’s Cabinet Office.

19 July 2011

Design and behaviourism: a brief review

Office window
Dan Lockton is publishing extracts from his Brunel University Ph.D thesis ‘Design with Intent: A design pattern toolkit for environmental & social behaviour change’ as blog posts over the next few weeks.

The first post deals with the importance of behaviourism in design for behavioural change, summarised in these eight bullets:

  • Behaviourism is no longer mainstream psychology, but many of the principles have potential application in design for behaviour change
     
  • There is a recognition that the environment shapes our behaviour both before and after we take actions—a useful insight for designing interventions
     
  • There is also a recognition that behaviour change does not necessarily happen in a single step, but as part of an ongoing cycle of shaping
     
  • Where cognition cannot be understood or examined, modelling users in terms of stimuli and responses may still offer valuable insights
     
  • Positive and negative reinforcement, and positive and negative punishment can all be implemented via designed features, and often underlie designed interventions without being explicitly named as such
     
  • Schedules of reinforcement can be varied (e.g. made unpredictable) to drive continued behaviour
     
  • Design could either exploit or help people avoid ‘social traps’ where both reinforcement and punishment exist, or reinforcement is currently misaligned with the behaviour, converting them into ‘trade-offs’ which more closely match the intended behavioural choices
     
  • Considering means and ends may provide a useful perspective on design for behaviour change. The end from the user’s perspective effectively becomes the means by which the designer’s end might be influenced

Read extract

17 July 2011

Izmo Summer School 2011 – Public Spaces in the City – Torino, Italy

Public spaces
Izmo, the Italian association focused on participatory process, local development, architecture, design and ICT, organizes an International Summer School in Torino from September 5th to 14th 2011 that proposes the public space as its theme.

The course is aimed at students, graduates, professionals and anyone interested in the issue of public space and urban regeneration.

The lectures (entirely in English language) will be held by professors of the Politecnico di Torino, University of Eastern Piedmont and St. John International University, as well as members of Izmo, and will face issues related to public space with the aim of providing insights in a broad and multidisciplinary manner.

In addition, participants will have the opportunity to directly experience several methods of field research (urban drift, urban missions, interviews) that will allow them to observe and make contact with the territory and its inhabitants.

Finally, the training will be enriched by a series of meetings with experts and professionals: informal moments during which students will have the opportunity to interact and engage with those who work in the public space, such as members of Izmo.

At the end of the lecture series, participants will intervene effectively in the public space, designing and implementing a series of installations, parts of an overall project for the redevelopment of District 7 in Turin.

Read more

17 July 2011

New RSA Journal out

RSA Journal
The Summer 2011 edition of the RSA Journal explores the relationship between business and social change.

Brand values
As the social, political and commercial spheres become more intertwined, firms are increasingly finding incentives to look beyond the bottom line. Colin Crouch explores the strong moral and commercial case for corporations to contribute to social good.

The cooperative renaissance
Values-based business models offer a viable alternative to the traditional capitalist approach, argues Peter Marks. What can the public and private sectors learn from these business models in today’s post-recession landscape?

Urban ingenuity
Too often accused of being a breeding ground for poverty and inequality, cities are actually a catalyst for innovation, entrepreneurialism and social mobility. It is no coincidence that many of the world’s most successful businesses had their genesis in cities, says Edward Glaeser

The new frontier?
While most social enterprises have yet to become household names, they are well positioned for steady growth, as they have a role to play in public-service provision, believes Geoff Mulgan.

The 21st century prison
Rachel O’Brien outlines the RSA’s plans to build a social enterprise prison that makes it easier for ex-offenders to transition into society and return to work.

The power of proximity
In an age when digital technology connects us on a global scale, entrepreneurial success still depends largely on the networks, resources and demand found in local communities, says Barry Quirk.

Self-made in China
Linda Yueh asks what we can learn from the generation of Chinese entrepreneurs who are driving the country’s rapid economic growth.

Best behaviours
Monique and Sam Sternin discuss how the Positive Deviance approach uses people’s hidden talents to tackle widespread and complex social problems.

David Hume: 300 years on
David Hume is remembered as a thinker who has influenced the way we address social, political and economic challenges. James Harris explains why, three centuries after his birth, David Hume continues to intrigue and inspire his diverse readership.

16 July 2011

How technology makes us better social beings

Social media in public spaces
Sociologist Keith Hampton (University of Pennsylvania) believes technology and social networking affect our lives in some very positive ways

“There has been a great deal of speculation about the impact of social networking site use on people’s social lives, and much of it has centered on the possibility that these sites are hurting users’ relationships and pushing them away from participating in the world,” Hampton said in a recent press release. He surveyed 2,255 American adults this past fall and published his results in a study last month. “We’ve found the exact opposite—that people who use sites like Facebook actually have more close relationships and are more likely to be involved in civic and political activities.”

Read article

13 July 2011

Why UX practitioners should join the Government 2.0 movement

 
One of the most important relationships people have is with government. Cyd Harrell explores what this means for the user experience community.

“One of the most important relationships people have is with government. Whether at a local or national level, citizens interact with their governments in myriad ways, and these days those touchpoints increasingly take place via websites, phone apps, or other types of technology. Anyone applying for a business license or a building permit, paying taxes, looking up public records, or requesting benefits is participating in an interaction where they are something more than a user. These relationships aren’t exactly voluntary the way commercial relationships are, but at the same time, the public nature of these services makes the user a co-owner in a way that customers typically are not. And most citizen experiences don’t properly reflect this reality although they should, and it’s interesting to think about how they’d be different if they did.”

Read article