Investigating crowd-driven, symbiotic innovation

“The internet has caused an economic shift every bit as important as the Industrial or Agricultural Revolutions. Thousands of bottom-up solutions are leveraging mobile and social media, open-source values, collective intelligence and other emerging patterns.

“These crowd-driven innovations are combining – symbiotically — into a truly novel way of living and doing business.

“Symbionomics is part online media project, and part feature length documentary film. We intend to highlight the emerging patterns, cultural trends and business models that will take us into a deeper relationship with wealth.”

What college students want from websites

“Teenagers prefer websites that have dynamic and engaging interactive activities, such as quizzes and games….

However, “college students are much more goal-oriented. They like interactivity only when it serves a purpose and supports their current tasks. At the college level, users make a separation between play and work and don’t require websites to entertain them at all times. Instead, students consider websites as tools. A good site is one that helps them quickly accomplish their goals….

Students often judge sites on how they look. But they usually prefer sites that look clean and simple rather than flashy and busy. One user said that websites should ‘stick to simplicity in design, but not be old-fashioned. Clear menus, not too many flashy or moving things because it can be quite confusing.’…

“Students don’t like to learn new user interface styles. They prefer websites that employ well-known interaction patterns. If a site doesn’t work in the expected manner, most students lose patience and leave rather than try to decode a difficult design….

“Students associate Facebook and similar sites with private discussions, not with corporate marketing. When students want to learn about a company, university, government agency, or non-profit organization they turn to search engines to find that organization’s official website. They don’t look for the organization’s Facebook page…”

Video mashup: The Great Turning

“Our global society faces the challenge of moving from an industrial-growth society to a life-sustaining society. This shift is often referred to as ‘The Great Turning.'”

  • Video from Blip.tv
  • Source materials from WGBH Lab Sandbox, CC Mixter, Flickr Creative Commons, and Shift in Action

Beautifully-animated dance: “Thought of you”

From Open Culture

“Ryan Woodward has worked on the art direction of many big name Hollywood films – Ironman 2, Spiderman 2 & 3, The Iron Giant, the list goes on. But he had an idea for a short animated film, a love story expressed through dance, and it led to a fruitful collaboration with dance choreographer Kori Wakamatsu.”

  • “Thought of You” video from Vimeo

The Banker on YouTube

“Campaign video by Richard Curtis and Bill Nighy, about the Robin Hood Tax, a tiny tax on bank transactions that could raise hundreds of billions for public services and to tackle poverty and climate change at home and around the world. Add your own voice to the campaign

There is nothing on the Internet that is not in your heart

“I want to denounce the notion that Social Networks are a Petri dish of perversion, danger, and now as paths to suicide. Yes it is true that there are perverted and dangerous elements on the web, but this is because there are elements of danger and perversion within the human psyche. We are what is damaged not the tool that merely reflects our most base illnesses….

“I am connected to a fluid diverse cyberworld of knowledge. Never before have we had the ability to be in so many places at once. Never before have we been allowed to share and communicate so easily. Never before have we had so much contact with so many people in so many places. We are truly moving toward a global community based on shared interests and a need to learn and grow….

“I will leave you with this:

“‘Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to 
them,’ A fight is going on inside me… it is a terrible fight and it is 
between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, 
regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority,
… lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

“‘The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too,’ he added. The Grandchildren thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, ‘Which wolf will win?’ The old Cherokee simply replied… ‘The one you feed.'”

Singing Hearts from Intrepid Teacher

“A few days ago I started reading The Last Child in the Woods. It sparked in me a sense of panic and guilt about the amount of time my daughter spends outdoors connecting to nature, getting fresh air, and exploring. I decided I wanted us to begin exploring our surroundings together. Even if our immediate surroundings was an empty dry desert field covered in garbage and construction refuse.

“We went outside with our cameras in hand to see what we could discover. I wish I had a field recorder, so I could have recorded her excitement and enthusiasm. We spoke of the wind, the setting sun, and how plants can grow with little water. We spoke about the power of art to make the ugly appear beautiful. We asked questions of each other. We guessed at answers. The two of us were a mobile outdoor classroom. Father and daughter in an empty field in the desert.

“When we came home I asked her if she wanted to see her pictures on the big screen of the computer and talk about what she had seen. The result was a very simple photo essay.

http://dearkaia.blogspot.com/2009/09/first-photo-essay.html

“Being the proud dad that I am, I decided to share the experience with my Twitter network. I thought that was the end of it, until last night when I noticed several comments come pouring in. After a quick request as to who was responsible I found out that @wmchamberlain had shared Kaia’s blog post with his class. I suggest you go and read some of the 43 comments.

“I immediately got in touch with him through Twitter, and he told me that a few of his students were curious if we had electricity in Doha. I told him, if he was interested, I could Skype into his classroom and answer some quick questions. So there we were, a small classroom in rural Missouri and me in my kitchen talking about our surroundings. We were following our curiosity. We were discovering new things. We were learning, beyond classroom walls, because we had all decided to take risks and be open with our lives. I told wmchamberlain’s students that since Kaia is only three she may have a hard time reading their comments and really grasp what is going on….

“The next day Kaia and I sat in our kitchen and watched their video. She is still too young to really grasp the connections that she is making, but in a few years these connections and this type of interaction will be ubiquitous in her life. I hope that her teachers are ready to help her continue on this journey.

China’s Taoism Revival

“As China’s only indigenous religion, Taoism’s influence is found in everything from calligraphy and politics to medicine and poetry. In the sixth century, for example, Abbess Yin’s temple was home to Tao Hongjing, one of the founders of traditional Chinese medicine.

“For much of the past two millenniums, Taoism’s opposite has been Confucianism, the ideology of China’s ruling elite and the closest China has to a second homegrown religion. Where Confucianism emphasizes moderation, harmony and social structure, Taoism offers a refuge from society and the trap of material success.

“Some rulers have tried to govern according to Taoism’s principle of wuwei, or nonaction, but by and large it is not strongly political and today exhibits none of the nationalism found among, say, India’s Hindu fundamentalists….

“Li Jinkang, says the goal is to keep Taoism vital in an era when indigenous Chinese ideas are on the defensive. ‘Churches are everywhere. But traditional things are less so. So Chairman Zhu said: “What about our Taoism? Our Taoism is a really deep thing. If we don’t protect it, then what?”‘”

Excerpts from NYTimes.com.

Skins series finale: Wild World

If you haven’t watched the Channel 4 series, Skins, through to the second season finale, you’re missing over a dozen hours of powerful filmmaking and vividly-written characters navigating the challenges of teen life. The first two seasons are streaming on Netflix, and season 3 is now online.)

Watch the Wild World from the Skins series finale.

    Towards a new civic ecology by @henryjenkins

    “The contemporary communications system is at once struggling with the threat that many major news outlets which have been the backbone of civic information over the past century are crumbling in the face of competition from new media. We may not be able to count on the traditional newspaper, news magazine or network newscast to do the work we could take for granted in the past….

    “At the same time, we are seeing expanded communications opportunities in the hands of everyday people — including in the hands of academics and other experts who traditionally had little means of direct communication with the various publics impacted by their work. The problem at the present time is that existing channels of professional journalism are crumbling faster than we are developing alternative solutions which will support the kinds of information and communication needed for a democratic society….

    “Thinking about a civic ecology helps us to recognize that while journalists do important work in gathering and vetting the information we need to make appropriate decisions as citizens, they are only part of a larger system through which key ideas get exchanged and discussed.

    “We understand this if we think about the classic coffee houses which Habermaas saw as part of the ideal public sphere. The proprietors, we are told, stocked them with a range of publications — broadsides, pamplets, newspapers, journals, and magazines — which are intended to provide resources for debate and discussion among the who are gathered there on any given evening….

    “By this same token, the present moment is characterized by both commercial and noncommercial forms of communication. As the comic strip, Zits, explains, ‘If it wasn’t for blogs, podcasts, and twitter, I’d never know whar was going on.’…

    Educational reform should go hand in hand with our efforts to restructure the civic ecology. As I’ve shown in my work for the MacArthur foundation, young people need to acquire a range of skills and competencies if they are going to meaningfully engage in the new participatory culture. As they scan the media ecology for bits and pieces of information, they need more discernment than ever before and that comes only if they are able to count on their schools to help them overcome the connected concerns of the digital divide, the participation gap, and the civic engagement gap.

    “The Digital Divide has to do with access to networked communication technologies — with many still relying on schools and public libraries to provide them with access. The Participation Gap has to do with access to skills and competencies (as well as the experiences through which they are acquired). And the Civic Engagement Gap has to do with access to a sense of empowerment and entitlement which allows one to feel like your voice matters when you tap into the new communication networks to share your thoughts.

    “Unfortunately, we’ve wired the classrooms in this country and then disabled the computers; we’ve blocked young people from participating in the new forms of participatory culture; and we’ve taught them that they are not ready to speak in public by sequestering them to walled gardens rather than allowing them to try their voices through public forums. …

    “Jessica Clark and Pat Aufderheide have written about Public Media 2.0, suggesting that we should no longer think about public service media (as if the knowledge simply flowed from above) but rather public facilitating and public mobilizing media that creates a context for meaningful conversations and helps point towards actions which the public might take to address its concerns. It is no longer enough to produce science documentaries which point to distance stars without giving the public something it can do to support your efforts and absorb your insights into motivated action.

    “It is no longer enough simply to inform. You must inspire and motivate, you must engage and enthrall the public, if you want to cut through the clutter of the new media landscape.”

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