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  • Who explodes the urban myths?

    Communication, Communication Design

    Several years ago, I was asked to research a documentary film on snuff movies. Problem was that because of obscenity laws, I couldn't watch what pretended to be 'the real thing' in the U.K., so had to fly to Amsterdam, book a hotel room, go down the video shop, then double-check that room service would be left at the door.

    Another time, while making a film in West Africa, the looney tunes former President of Liberia refused requests to be interviewed, telling the country's national newspaper that my camera was a laser gun fully armed for his assassination.

    Both of these experiences are about nonsense behaviour and popular fiction. But they're also about the persistence and ingenuity required to promote or defeat cynicism.

    On 17th July 2003, Tony Blair's 'Efficiency Czar' made a presentation to the Cabinet of the U.K. Government on their progress on targets. The presentation by Michael Barber centered on ten key lessons - and is reproduced in his new memoirs.

    Lesson 9 holds more than a useful thought for anyone involved in laying the cables of social, economic and cultural change. You may even think of having it sewn to the inside of your pocket.

    Under the heading

    Lesson 9: Extraordinary discipline and persistence are required to defeat the cynics

    Barber's first bullet point:

    Who explodes urban myths?

  • The idea of civil society has been at the center of public service reform for several years.

    Its promotion has been encouraged by the rise of third-party government and need to provide higher-quality, more citizen and choice-centered public services.

    Government has celebrated people as agents of change and created opportunities for committed citizens and motivated amateurs to take centre stage and make public policy.

    Cultural and commercial accomplices have included user-friendly, user-generated media platforms.

    And the feeling of a citizen revolution has been promoted by calls to arms of events like Making Poverty History and Earth Aid.

    What's followed in public management is a boom in 'public consultation' by service providers, the rise of initiatives such as participatory budgeting and the positioning of the Third Sector as a deliverer of public services.

    But for every step forward in giving 'power to the people', there appears to be ever-increasing powerless-ness or people behaving in ways that increase the 'democratic deficit'.

    In Unlocking Innovation, a recent paper by the policy think tank Demos, writer Melissa Mean gets under the lid of the dilemma.

    Over the last year, Demos has been running a participatory planning initiative in Glasgow, Scotland, in which people have visioned the future of their city.

    Understanding the value of her project, Melissa writes:

    The problem with official futures is that they swallow people's sense of agency.

    Everywhere you loo...

  • From software online news service Beta News comes the inevitable question "Was Wikipedia Just a Fad?"

    According to research by one user

    new account registrations are down a quarter since earlier this year. This decline in new editors has also resulted in a decline in the editing of articles -- some 17 percent -- and article deletions, down about 25 percent. Also down were user blocks, down 30 percent, and uploads, down 10 percent.

    This may simply be Cassandra-ness that screams when things like Facebook usage declines and faddists move on to new climes like Web 3.o - whatever that this.

    But I do wonder whether, when it comes to participatory projects, have we reached a moment to ask the question "when does the tent get too big?" or "does the tent get so big that it hits entrophy - and declines?"

    I've just run a public design project in the U.K. in which a thousand people grew food in public places and shared it at a closing event that was attended by 8000 people. The total population of the town is 140,000. That's a 6% participation rate. Amazing.

    We structured the project in a way that carefully drew a basket of over 60 'cellular' groups together and they came together into a final epic (ish) moment. But what does the high closing hit-rate mean?

    Would the entire town be prepared to grow its own food? Or is there a moment when production would hit capacity, then steady and simply decline?

    Is something fundamental going on in the public ...

  • Aids does not discriminate(1 of 3 series)

    Education, Communication Design

    Unicef2_177_

    Work from Graphic Design school a few years back

  • Nature vs Nurture

    Education

    “Political conservatives have sometimes favored genetic explanation of behavior and intelligence while liberals have more often favored environmental explanations.”

    There are many examples involving politicizing nature vs. nature issues, but an especially notable example favoring genetic explanations of behavior are the devastating events in Nazi Germany. The propaganda aimed towards building a greater Germany by extinguishing all inferior races that is, people other than the “superior” Aryan race-so that a genetically pure race woould be maintained. This, unfortunately led to history’s most notorious and devastingact of human immorality- the Holocaust.

    An example of political leaders favoring nenvironmental expectations in behavior was the founding of Communism, which believed that humans were highly malleable adn docile. Because there was great confidence tha tpeople would work together for greater productivity, some regimes accompainied their revolution with massive indoctrination efforts. For example, in the Cultural Revolution of China and the two Russian Revolutions, efforts resulted disastrously, however due to lack of an individual economic incentive, accompanied by a terribly toll of human deaths from cruel punishments and miseravle lives, initiated by the attempts to “reeducate” the majority.

    DeWaal contend that “suppressed categories of people, such as minorities and women” should feel threat both from biological determinism and from an environment...

  • The Word

    Environment

    Md1_177_

    Whenever I heard this question being asked and then hearing it being answered, I would cringe, and whoever is next to me will give me another cringe. Hearing those answers, is what bothers me. Especially, when the similar answers are being heard over thousands times. Anyway, you probably would want to know what the question is, first, before you hear those answers. And this might sound familiar from your parents or did when you were just a child. And that would be, “Wow, you got so much talent and your so gifted…What do you want to be?” The child in the corner would reply, “I want to be doctor.” “I want be a lawyer!” And the one in front of you would go, “I want to be a neurosurgeon.” Sure you do. “A doctor” or “a lawyer” were answers that probably satisfied your mother. But those answers to me are somewhat disappointing to hear. Which might sound awkward to you because you mind has probably been trained to think that there is no better job than being paid the “green sheets.” You know “dough,” “bread,” “MUULLAA.” Yes, Money. And YES, this is what irritates me. For some people, not that they are passionate about it and not that they are seriously worried about saving other lives, and not that they really have the interest. Perhaps, it’s the Ben Franklin’s, they get every week. It is the lack of dedication, and the thought of other minds of just wanting to make money, that makes me cringe. Don’t get me wrong. I do understand that there are those who want to be doctors or law...

  • Design will Save the World

    Communication, Communication Design

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    DWSTW T-Shirt from Artefacture. Via. Collectiva.

  • 19.20.21

    Community, Communication Design

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    Richard Wurman's new venture 19.20.21, a study of 19 cities with 20 million people and their implications for life in the 21st century.

  • Come Build With Us

    Arts & Culture

    3rd Ward, Brooklyn's creative giant has recently constructed brand-new, private workspaces perfect for fabricators and designers looking for access to a variety of machinery, tools and resources within a growing community of artists and creative professionals.

    These 8'x8' spaces housed within the wood and metal shops grant you direct access to equipment and include 3rd Ward's I Heart Brooklyn membership plan for both the occupant and an assistant allowing unlimited access to all of 3rd Ward's facilities, free admission to events, health insurance coverage, and more.

    For more information on membership visit our site here: http://www.3rdwardbrooklyn.org/membership/

    Please call 3rd Ward at 718.715.4961 for more information and to schedule an appointment to see the spaces and tour the facilities.

    Love 3rd Ward Fam

  • All We Need

    Arts & Culture, Communication Design

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    In a hollowed out industrial factory in the South of Luxembourg is an exhibition that strikes at the fundamentals of human longing. Whether it be for a sip of clean water or the whispers of an admirer the All We Need exhibit cycles us through a reflective, cerebral tunnel of human want and requirement.

    According to Manfred Max-Neef, a Chilean economist that has been researching human needs for over a decade, every individual has a set of ten needs. Those needs are; idleness, subsistence, freedom, affection, protection, identity, creation, understanding, transcendence; and participation. I was lucky to visit an exhibit exploring these ideas during a class field trip with my fellow grad students.

    Organized in sections based closely on Man-Neef's original themes the exhibit is also a journey through an old steel factory – The Halle des Soufflantes. The warehouse is massive (160 m long, 70 m wide and 28 m high) and still displays some of the machinery that was installed in the early 1900's. The rawness of design and sheer size becomes something to traverse and discover as an element of the exhibit itself.

    Headphones and a hand-held device provides auditory samples along with artist and title information. The exhibit has several contributing artists, designers, architects, curators, initiators and other contributors...to find out more visit: allweneed.lu

    Read field notes from the exhibit.

    Relax + Survive The cavernous size of the first room, the blasting hall, is flooded ...

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