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Posts in category 'Social change'

7 September 2014

Nudging and behavioral regulation gaining interest across Europe

ten

Behavioral regulation is afoot in Europe and is drawing the interest of a growing number of OECD countries. Professor Alberto Alemanno has just posted a brief overview of what happened over the last few months:

In late June, TEN – The European Nudge Network was launched with the aim to gather and exchange good practices among researchers, practitioners, stakeholders and policy-makers interested in Nudge throughout the European Union and beyond.

The European Union is in the process to set up its ‘foresight team’, a unit to be located within the EU Commission Joint Research Center under the lead of the best policy thinkers inside the administration. The unit’s reason d’être is to centralize the efforts currently undertaken by some Directorates General of the EU Commission, such as DG Consumer Protection and Health (SANCO), to integrate behavioral insights into EU policymaking.

Also the OECD is set to include ‘behavioral economics’ in its 2015 Regulatory Policy Outlook.

Alemanno goes on to cite examples from individual countries such as Germany, France, Italy and Canada.

3 September 2014

[Book] Digitized Lives

digitizedlives

Digitized Lives: Culture, Power, and Social Change in the Internet Era
By T.V. Reed
Routledge
June 2014

Abstract

In a remarkably short period of time the Internet and associated digital communication technologies have deeply changed the way millions of people around the globe live their lives. But what is the nature of that impact? In chapters examining a broad range of issues—including sexuality, politics, education, race, gender relations, the environment, and social protest movements—Digitized Lives seeks answers to these central questions: What is truly new about so-called “new media,” and what is just hype? How have our lives been made better or worse by digital communication technologies? In what ways can these devices and practices contribute to a richer cultural landscape and a more sustainable society?

Cutting through the vast—and often contradictory—literature on these topics, Reed avoids both techno-hype and techno-pessimism, offering instead succinct, witty and insightful discussions of how digital communication is impacting our lives and reshaping the major social issues of our era. The book argues that making sense of digitized culture means looking past the glossy surface of techno gear to ask deeper questions about how we can utilize technology to create a more socially, politically, and economically just world.

> Companion website

Author

T. V. Reed is Buchanan Distinguished Professor of American Studies and English at Washington State University. He is the author of The Art of Protest: Culture and Activism from the Civil Rights Movement to the Streets of Seattle.

28 August 2014

How EU leaders can listen to the views of their citizens expressed on Twitter

vox200

Vox Digitas
By Jamie Bartlett, Carl Miller, David Weir, Jeremy Reffin, Simon Wibberley
Report, 24 August 2014
ISBN 978-1-909037-63-2
Free download

Over the last decade European citizens have gained a digital voice. Close to 350 million people in Europe currently use social networking sites, with more of us signing into a social media platform at least once a day than voted in the last European elections. EU citizens have transferred many aspects of their lives onto these social media platforms, including politics and activism. Taken together, social media represent a new digital commons where people join their social and political lives to those around them.

This paper examines the potential of listening to these digital voices on Twitter, and the consequences for how EU leaders apprehend, respond to and thereby represent their citizens. It looks at how European citizens use Twitter to discuss issues related to the EU and how their digital attitudes and views evolve in response to political and economic crises. It also addresses the many formidable challenges that this new method faces: how far it can be trusted, when it can be used, the value such use could bring and how its use can be publicly acceptable and ethical.

We have never before had access to the millions of voices that together form society’s constant political debate, nor the possibility of understanding them. This report demonstrates how capturing and understanding these citizen voices potentially offers a new way of listening to people, a transformative opportunity to understand what they think, and a crucial opportunity to close the democratic deficit.

The report is the result of a project conducted by The Centre for the Analysis of Social Media, a collaboration between Demos and the Text Analytics Group at the University of Sussex, that produces new political, social and policy insight and understanding through social media research.

The methodological reflections in the executive summary are a worthwhile read for any qualitative researcher, including those working in the corporate realm.

12 August 2014

The Internet of Words

internetofwords

In his review of the recent books by Alice E. Marwick and danah boyd, Ted Striphas focuses on how they guide us in understanding how the internet is affecting our language as it expresses our social experience.

“There has been a lot of speculation about social media and what it does to us individually and collectively. But now we’re beginning to see a new generation of writers who are conducting extensive ethnographic research about how people use these and other digital tools. Alice E. Marwick, author of Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity, and Branding in the Social Media Age, (Yale University Press, 2013) and danah boyd, author of It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens (Yale, 2014) are among the finest interpreters of the technological changes we have been experiencing. They point to the first decade of the 21st century as the time when, in the wake of the dot-com bust, the tech industry rebooted around social media. And they chronicle how people are coming to navigate a world dizzy with opportunities for self-presentation and interaction online. Along the way, they manage to defuse some of the panic surrounding recent changes, taking aim at concerned parents, plucky teens, hurried journalists, aspiring celebrities, hopeful entrepreneurs, and others who simply assume social media is either a ticket to the big time or an express elevator to hell.”

Ted Striphas is an associate professor of communication and culture at Indiana University at Bloomington. He is the author of The Late Age of Print: Everyday Book Culture From Consumerism to Control (Columbia University Press, 2009).

8 August 2014

Can technology really change your habits?

change-your-habits

Downloading an app won’t get you to change your habits. Vivian Giang writes on the science of what will.

“There are three kinds of behavioral changes, according to Arun Sundararajan, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business whose research program focuses on how information technologies transform business and society:

  • The first includes changing behaviors that you learned through experience, such as the way you manage your time.
  • The second involves retraining your biomechanical system to behave differently, such as not pressing the breaks constantly while you’re driving.
  • The third has to do with physiological behaviors such as smoking and exercising.

The behaviors that have the highest chance of changing even after app usage are the second and third. Why? “Because they’re not changing you. They’re training you to do something differently, so once you’ve trained yourself, you can stop using [the app],” says Sundararajan. When it comes to learned behavior (the first one), there’s a greater chance you’ll revert back to your old behavior after using the app.

If the app only changes your reaction to feedback, such as reprimanding you for checking your social media, then there’s a good chance you’re only changing your behavior because you’re using the app. When it comes to changing, Sundararajan says your best bet is to not put too much stock in the digital and technology.

“Over the last decade, we’ve started to overestimate the power of technology and we reduce the importance of things like community,” he says. “A big part of behavior change has to do with changing the environment that you’re in and changing the interactions that you have with people.””

8 August 2014

No time to think

0727BUSY-master495

Nowadays, people can keep negative thoughts at bay with a frenzy of activity. Kate Murphy writes on the consequences in the Sunday Review section of the New York Times.

“You can’t solve or let go of problems if you don’t allow yourself time to think about them. It’s an imperative ignored by our culture, which values doing more than thinking and believes answers are in the palm of your hand rather than in your own head. [...]

Suppressing negative feelings only gives them more power, leading to intrusive thoughts, which makes people get even busier to keep them at bay.

Studies further suggest that not giving yourself time to reflect impairs your ability to empathize with others. “The more in touch with my own feelings and experiences, the richer and more accurate are my guesses of what passes through another person’s mind,” said Giancarlo Dimaggio, a psychiatrist with the Center for Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy in Rome, who studies the interplay of self-reflection and empathy. “Feeling what you feel is an ability that atrophies if you don’t use it.”

Researchers have also found that an idle mind is a crucible of creativity. A number of studies have shown that people tend to come up with more novel uses for objects if they are first given an easy task that allows their minds to wander, rather than a more demanding one.”

27 July 2014

Applying insights from behavioral economics to policy design

 

Applying insights from behavioral economics to policy design
Brigitte C. Madrian
NBER Working paper
July 2014

The premise of this article is that an understanding of psychology and other social science disciplines can inform the effectiveness of the economic tools traditionally deployed in carrying out the functions of government, which include remedying market failures, redistributing income, and collecting tax revenue. An understanding of psychology can also lead to the development of different policy tools that better motivate desired behavior change or that are more cost-effective than traditional policy tools. The article outlines a framework for thinking about the psychology of behavior change in the context of market failures. It then describes the research on the effects of a variety of interventions rooted in an understanding of psychology that have policy-relevant applications. The article concludes by discussing how an understanding of psychology can also inform the use and design of traditional policy tools for behavior change, such as financial incentives.

Brigitte Madrian is the Aetna Professor of Public Policy and Corporate Management at the Harvard Kennedy School.

[HT Emile Hooge]

24 July 2014

HeadCon ’13: What’s new in social science?

headcon13

In July, 2013, Edge invited a group of social scientists to participate in an Edge Seminar at Eastover Farm focusing on the state of the art of what the social sciences have to tell us about human nature, entitled “HeadCon ’13: WHAT’S NEW IN SOCIAL SCIENCE?”.

The ten speakers were Sendhil Mullainathan, June Gruber, Fiery Cushman, Rob Kurzban, Nicholas Christakis, Joshua Greene, Laurie Santos, Joshua Knobe, David Pizarro, and Daniel C. Dennett. Also participating were Daniel KahnemanAnne Treisman, and Jennifer Jacquet.

“We asked the participants to consider the following questions: “What’s new in your field of social science in the last year or two, and why should we care?” “Why do we want or need to know about it?” “How does it change our view of human nature?”

And in so doing we also asked them to focus broadly and address the major developments in their field (including but not limited to their own research agenda). The goal: to get new, fresh, and original up-to-date field reports on different areas of social science.”

Here are the videos:

The event was also an experiment in online video designed to capture the dynamic of an Edge seminar, focusing on the interaction of ideas, and of people. The documentary film-maker Jason Wishnow, the pioneer of “TED Talks” during his tenure as director of film and video at TED (2006-2012), filmed the ten sessions in split-screen with five cameras, presenting each speaker and the surrounding participants from multiple simultaneous camera perspectives.

Edge now presents the program in its entirety: nearly six hours of Edge Video and a downloadable pdf of the 58,000-word transcript.

15 June 2014

Behaviour change presentations at Nudgestock event

logo

On 6 June OgilvyChange, the specialist behavioural sciences practice of Ogilvy & Mather UK, hosted the second edition of Nudgestock, the “largest gathering of behavioural experts in the world”. The one day event on May 24 saw speakers from fields as wide ranging as behavioural finance, evolutionary theory, the science of magic and design discussing where theory and hypotheses has been creatively translated into successful behaviour change around the world.

The organisers have uploaded most of the speaker videos, of which we highlight a few:

Dr. Dan Lockton: Designing with people in behavioural change
Many approaches to behaviour change largely model humans as defective – bad at making decisions and in need of intervention. Yet most people, surprisingly, actually manage to get by. More often, design lets them down and produces barriers to behaviour.
Dan Lockton is a Senior Associate at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, Royal College of Art.

Ed Gardiner: A recipe for making good ideas happen
Understanding how we tick is half the challenge, applying these insights in the real world is the real issue. We can now turn cutting edge science into real world products and interventions.
Ed Gardiner is the Head of the Behavioural Design Lab in partnership with the Warwick Business School.

Rob Teszka: Cognitive Psychology and Magic
Magicians have the uncanny ability to manipulate how people perceive the world. The study of attention and awareness reveals the efficiencies in the human brain. If we can understand why something fails, you can understand how it works.
Rob Teszka is a Cognitive Psychologist at Goldsmiths University and a Member of the Magic Circle.

7 June 2014

Sharing City Seoul: a model for the world

MayorParkEar

The Seoul city government has officially embraced the sharing economy by designating Seoul a Sharing City and is working in partnership with NGOs and private companies to make sharing an integral part of Seoul’s economy.

The city is now creating an official sharing ecosystem and, led by the Seoul Innovation Bureau within the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), they are seeing promising early results.

Using its IT and civic infrastructure, in addition to strong public-private partnerships, the Sharing City project is working to connect people to sharing services and each other, recover a sense of trust and community, reduce waste and over-consumption, and activate the local economy.

1 June 2014

German psychologist aims to debunk behavioural economics (a.k.a. the “nudge” approach)

Illustration by Jack Hudson.

Daniel Kahneman, the ‘godfather’ of behavioural economics, has been challenged by rival psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer, director of the Centre for Cognition and Adaptive Behaviour at the Max Planck institute in Berlin, who claims that Kahneman presents ‘an unfairly negative view of the human mind’.

Gigerenzer’s book Risk Savvy: How to Make Good Decisions debunks the behavioural economics of Daniel Kahneman, and Cass Sunstein and Richard Thaler, authors of the bestselling book “Nudge”, who, along with the authors of Freakonomics, were once David Cameron’s pet thinkers.

Tim Adams reports on it all in the Observer.

“In an increasingly complex and specialised world, Gigerenzer preaches a gospel of greater simplicity. He suggests that the outcome of decisions of any complexity – a complexity of, say, trying to organise a successful picnic or greater – are impossible to accurately predict with any mathematical rational model, and therefore more usefully approached with a mixture of gut instinct and what he calls heuristics, the learned rules of thumb of any given situation. He believes, and he has some evidence to prove it, that such judgments prove sounder in practice than those based purely on probability.” [...]

“Though Kahneman himself carefully limits its potential political application, his argument that we are irretrievably in thrall to our fallacies, in Gigernzer’s view, only strengthens the argument for such paternalism from government. Nudge theory becomes the more palatable expression of a deliberate wider manipulation. It makes us weaker and less questioning citizens.

Gigerenzer proposes an alternative solution. He believes, with education, the teaching of critical thinking about statistical probability, people can become more usefully ‘risk savvy'”

Related:
– Videos of Gerd Gigerenzer at TEDxZurich (2013) and TEDxNorrköping (2012)
– “Risk Savvy” book reviews in The Financial Times | The Economist | Times Higher Education
– An older, but in-depth review on the debate by Nick Dunbar

28 May 2014

Renting isn’t lending: the ‘sharing economy’ fallacy

mpd9x72x-1400773267

The sharing economy is a harmful misnomer, writes John Harvey, a researcher at the University of Nottigham. It conflates people who actually share with those who make money through collaborative consumption.

“It is true that much of the work within the broad gamut of the sharing economy is important in terms of sustainability and worthy of further advocacy. But the disparate values that resource sharing brings to the economy should not be clumsily lumped together. Sharing in the presence of money and sharing in its absence are two entirely different forms of economic morality.”

25 April 2014

There’s a backlash against nudging – but it was never meant to solve every problem

Smog over a California freeway

Sceptics fail to grasp that this is a strategy that improves lives while treating citizens with dignity – unlike coercion, argues Cass Sunstein.

It is true that nudges are not a sufficient approach to some of our most serious problems, such as violent crime, poverty, and climate change. Nonetheless, they have five major advantages over coercive approaches.

First, people’s situations are highly diverse. By allowing people to go their own way, nudges reduce the costs of one-size-fits-all solutions.

Second, public officials have limited information. If official nudges are based on mistakes, the damage is far less severe than in the case of bans, because people remain free to ignore them.

Third, public officials do not always have the purest of motivations. They may be affected by the influence of well-organised private groups. If so, it is a major safeguard that people can go their own way.

Fourth, people may feel frustrated and angry if deprived of the ability to choose. When a government provides information or offers a warning, it simultaneously tells citizens that in the end they have the right to make their own decisions.

Fifth, freedom of choice can be, and often is, seen as an intrinsic good that a government should honour if it is to treat people with dignity. This is not a point about the subjective experience of frustration and anger. It is a matter of respect.

Cass Robert Sunstein is an American legal scholar who was the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration. Sunstein co-authored Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness with economist Richard Thaler.

17 March 2014

Six ways to design humanity and localism into Smart Cities

frederiksberg

A long post by Rick Robinson, Executive Architect at IBM specialising in emerging technologies and Smarter Cities, admonishes Smart Cities planners and designers not to overlook the social needs of cities and communities. After all, he says, the full purpose of cities is: to enable a huge number of individual citizens to live not just safe, but rewarding lives with their families.

His well thought-through and experience based reasoning is very much worth a read and ends with an in-depth discussion of six practical steps:

  1. Make institutions accessible
  2. Make infrastructure and technology accessible
  3. Support collaborative innovation
  4. Promote open systems
  5. Provide common services
  6. Establish governance of the information economy
16 March 2014

Why smart cities need an urgent reality check

Cities: smart 3, boston

Responsive urban technology sounds enticing but citizens must not be disconnected from plans drawn up on their behalf, argues Gary Graham in The Guardian.

“It’s not clear at the moment whether future cities are strategic experiments for [large companies such as IBM, Samsung, Cisco and Intel], or if they are genuinely catalysing the regeneration of inner cities. To investigate some of these visions, I went to MIT in Boston for three months last year. The aim was to find out how people would get their goods and services in the city of the future, and how we we get everyone to engage with city plans.

We decided to test out some ideas with the inner-city communities of Boston in a series of workshops. We essentially combined science fact and science fiction by presenting them with a Boston set in 2037, based on current technological trends projected forward through several imagined scenarios.

We combined the traditional science fiction ideas of utopia and dystopia with realistic technological trends such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing and big data and asked Bostonians to come up with fictional stories about their life in these environments.”

And the answers were quite to the point:

“Workshop participants felt smart cities were rather utopian concepts growing from a vision put forward by one group of businesses. There was general agreement that there were often many visions for the city, but “at the moment it’s the rich and powerful who determine that future vision.”

Many were troubled by the notion that people would live in a city purely because of its technology capabilities and thought there were lots of other important social and cultural reasons influencing people’s decisions to live or work somewhere. Just because these urban centres could offer us new ways of living in the future does not negate the importance of the natural environment, history and legacy.”

9 March 2014

Swedish inspirations on design for public policy

msi_logo_färg_1_0

The Forum for Social Innovation Sweden is a meeting place for academia, industry, government, civic society and non-profit organisations in Sweden striving to develop social innovation and social entrepreneurship.

As part of its mission to share news, information, network and what is happening within this field, in Sweden and globally, it is worth calling attention to a few of its events and publications:

Event

Designing Publics, Public Designing
On the 27th an 28th of January, the Forum for Social innovation Sweden, at Malmö University and partners organised an international seminar on the subject of design and social innovation for public policy.
Synthesis article | Report | Conference video

Publications

Public and collaborative, Exploring the intersection of design, social innovation and public policy
Design for Social Innovation towards Sustainability, DESIS, has published a public and collaborative book presenting reflections on efforts of DESIS Labs in Europe, Canada, and the United States.

The Power of the Collective
Research article by Andi Sharma that explores how social enterprise and non-profits can fully realize the potential of co-location communities.

> More publications

5 March 2014

Campaign: Mobile card set of facilitation and training techniques

fishbowl

Are you a trainer? Do you facilitate meetings?

Help the International Training Centre of the International Labour Organization (an Experientia client) to develop a mobile card set of 60 participatory knowledge sharing methods and technologies that you can use in any of your upcoming workshops or meetings. The cards will help you to make informed decisions about developing learning activities and choosing the appropriate methods, tools and resources to conduct them.

Watch the video | Go to the crowdfunding campaign

9 February 2014

Adam Gopnik: “Why I don’t tweet”

_60621724_adamgopnik

Adam Gopnik, who writes for the New Yorker, has only ever sent nine tweets. In this long BBC article he explains why:

” Everyone insists that the technological transformation of the daily shape of our lives by new gadgets is enormous, while allowing that their emotional effect is more dubious, leaving us with emptier, or at best, unaltered souls. I think the truth is closer to the direct reverse. The emotional effect of new devices is overwhelming – they are like having new pets, new children, trailing with them an overwhelming attachment. But the transformational effect they have on our lives is actually, looked at squarely and without sentiment, quite minimal. After the introduction of a new device, or social media, our lives are exactly where they were before, save for the new thing or service, which we now cannot live without.”

And note this sentence:

“Like so much modern media technology, [the smartphone] creates a dependency without ever actually addressing a need.”

12 January 2014

[Book] Design Transitions

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Design Transitions – Inspiring Stories. Global Viewpoints. How design is changing.
By Joyce Yee, Emma Jefferies and Lauren Tan
BIS Publishers
[Book site - Amazon link - selected pages]

Abstract

Design Transitions presents 42 unique and insightful stories of how design is changing around the world. Twelve countries are represented from the perspectives of three different communities: design agencies, organizations embedding design; and design academics.

Design Transitions takes you across the globe in search of the most innovative design practitioners, and their answers to the question ‘How are design practices changing?’ From small practices to vast corporations, the renowned to the lesser known: these are the stories of people working at the fringes of the traditional disciplines of design. They have opened up their design worlds to reveal the methods, tools and thinking behind their inspirational work. Some of the organizations and individuals featured includes: Droog, BERG, Fjord, thinkpublic, FutureGov, Hakuhodo Innovation Lab, DesignThinkers Group, INSITUM, Optimal Usability, frog Asia, Ziba, Banny Banerjee, Ezio Manzini, Carlos Teixeira and Adam Greenfield.

Design Transitions is divided into three sections:

  • Section I: Changing Practices features 25 stories from design practices in a range of disciplines.
  • Section II: New Territories features five organizations introducing and embedding design approaches into their core practice and operations.
  • Section III: Viewpoints features 12 interviews with leading design academics, offering additional insights and a critical perspective on the key themes that have emerged from our case studies and interviews.

Authors

Joyce Yee, PhD is a senior lecturer at UK’s Northumbria University’s Design School, teaching interaction, service and design methodologies across undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Emma Jefferies, PhD is an independent design consultant and founder of Design Doctors.

Lauren Tan, PhD has worked as a designer in various capacities in graphic design, management consulting, service design and social design.

12 January 2014

The new design: social innovation inspiring business innovation

 

Cheryl Heller of CommonWise argues that there’s a new design emerging that works from inside a community and at a systems level, impacting human relationships instead of things. It emerges from the new discipline of design for social innovation, in which the discipline is applied to re-imagining and reinvigorating human resources. This new design, applied to business, can shift cultures, instill broad creativity, and ignite the kind of transformational opportunities we need most right now.

“An emerging design practice has grown from the efforts of a relative handful of pioneering designers working in social impact design. It “scales up” the principles and processes of design to work at a systems level – creating the conditions, relationships, engagement and access to wisdom that shift cultures and ignite creative potential. This new design, developed through working in the social sector, requires skills and knowledge incremental to the core visual and technical skills that designers are currently taught: skills for mapping, storytelling, ethnographic research, analysis, facilitation, collaboration and persuasion. These new skills open the creative process to collective participation, engaging a culture in imagining and realizing it’s own future. And that is the heart of this powerful new tool for business.”