The Infinite Playground: A Player’s Guide to Imagination


Book by Bernard De Koven: “Bernard De Koven (1941–2018) was a pioneering designer of games and theorist of fun. He studied games long before the field of game studies existed. For De Koven, games could not be reduced to artifacts and rules; they were about a sense of transcendent fun. This book, his last, is about the imagination: the imagination as a playground, a possibility space, and a gateway to wonder. The Infinite Playground extends a play-centered invitation to experience the power and delight unlocked by imagination. It offers a curriculum for playful learning.

De Koven guides the readers through a series of observations and techniques, interspersed with games. He begins with the fundamentals of play, and proceeds through the private imagination, the shared imagination, and imagining the world—observing, “the things we imagine can become the world.” Along the way, he reminisces about playing ping-pong with basketball great Bill Russell; begins the instructions for a game called Reception Line with “Mill around”; and introduces blathering games—BlatherGroup BlatherSinging Blather, and The Blather Chorale—that allow the player’s consciousness to meander freely.

Delivered during the last months of his life, The Infinite Playground has been painstakingly cowritten with Holly Gramazio, who worked together with coeditors Celia Pearce and Eric Zimmerman to complete the project as Bernie De Koven’s illness made it impossible for him to continue writing. Other prominent game scholars and designers influenced by De Koven, including Katie Salen Tekinbaş, Jesper Juul, Frank Lantz, and members of Bernie’s own family, contribute short interstitial essays…(More)”

A New Model for Saving Lives on Roads Around the World


Article by Krishen Mehta & Piyush Tewari: “…In 2016, SaveLIFE Foundation (SLF), an Indian non-profit organization, introduced the Zero Fatality Corridor (ZFC) solution, which has, since its inception, delivered an unprecedented reduction in road crash fatalities on the stretches of road where it has been deployed. The ZFC solution has adapted and added to the Safe System Approach, traditionally a western concept, to make it suitable for Indian conditions and requirements.

The Safe System Approach recognizes that people are fallible and can make mistakes that may be fatal for them or their fellow road-users—irrespective of how well they are trained.

The ZFC model, in turn, is an innovation designed specifically to accommodate the realities, resources, and existing infrastructure in low- and middle-income countries, which are vastly different from their developed counterparts. For example, unlike developed nations, people in low- and middle-income countries often live closer to the highways, and use them on a daily basis on foot or through traditional and slower modes of transportation. This gives rise to high crash conflict areas.

Some of the practices that are a part of the ZFC solution include optimized placement of ambulances at high-fatality locations, the utilization of drones to identify parked vehicles to preemptively prevent rear-end collisions, and road engineering solutions unique to the realities of countries like India. The ZFC model has helped create a secure environment specific to such countries with safer roads, safer vehicles, safer speeds, safer drivers, and rapid post-crash response.

The ZFC model was first deployed in 2016 on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway (MPEW) in Maharashtra, through a collaboration between SLF, Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), and automaker Mahindra & Mahindra. From 2010 to 2016, the 95-kilometer stretch witnessed 2,579 crashes and 887 fatalities, making it one of India’s deadliest roads…(More)”.

The Power of Narrative


Essay by Klaus Schwab and Thierry Mallerett: “…The expression “failure of imagination” captures this by describing the expectation that future opportunities and risks will resemble those of the past. Novelist Graham Greene used it in The Power and the Glory, but the 9/11 Commission made it popular by invoking it as the main reason why intelligence agencies had failed to anticipate the “unimaginable” events of that day.

Ever since, the expression has been associated with situations in which strategic thinking and risk management are stuck in unimaginative and reactive thinking. Considering today’s wide and interdependent array of risks, we can’t afford to be unimaginative, even though, as the astrobiologist Caleb Scharf points out, we risk getting imprisoned in a dangerous cognitive lockdown because of the magnitude of the task. “Indeed, we humans do seem to struggle in general when too many new things are thrown at us at once. Especially when those things are outside of our normal purview. Like, well, weird viruses or new climate patterns,” Scharf writes. “In the face of such things, we can simply go into a state of cognitive lockdown, flipping from one small piece of the problem to another and not quite building a cohesive whole.”

Imagination is precisely what is required to escape a state of “cognitive lockdown” and to build a “cohesive whole.” It gives us the capacity to dream up innovative solutions to successfully address the multitude of risks that confront us. For decades now, we’ve been destabilizing the world, having failed to imagine the consequences of our actions on our societies and our biosphere, and the way in which they are connected. Now, following this failure and the stark realization of what it has entailed, we need to do just the opposite: rely on the power of imagination to get us out of the holes we’ve dug ourselves into. It is incumbent upon us to imagine the contours of a more equitable and sustainable world. Imagination being boundless, the variety of social, economic, and political solutions is infinite.

With respect to the assertion that there are things we don’t imagine to be socially or politically possible, a recent book shows that nothing is preordained. We are in fact only bound by the power of our own imaginations. In The Dawn of Everything, David Graeber and David Wengrow (an anthropologist and an archaeologist) prove this by showing that every imaginable form of social and economic organization has existed from the very beginning of humankind. Over the past 300,000 years, we’ve pursued knowledge, experimentation, happiness, development, freedom, and other human endeavors in myriad different ways. During these times that preceded our modern world, none of the arrangements that we devised to live together exhibited a single point of origin or an invariant pattern. Early societies were peaceful and violent, authoritarian and democratic, patriarchal and matriarchal, slaveholding and abolitionist, some moving between different types of organizations all the time, others not. Antique industrial cities were flourishing at the heart of empires while others existed in the absence of a sovereign entity…(More)”

Mission-oriented innovation


Handbook by Vinnova: “Mission-oriented innovation aims to create change at the system level where everyone involved is involved and drives development. The working method is a tool for achieving jointly set sustainability goals on a broad basis and with great impact.

In this handbook, we tell about Vinnova’s work together with a number of relevant actors to jointly create mission-oriented innovation. You can follow how the actors under 2019-2021 test and develop the working method in the two different areas of food and mobility, respectively. This is a story about how the tool mission-oriented innovation can be used and a guide with concrete tips on how it can be done…(More)”.

New Days Future Kit


Toolbox by the Danish Design Center: “The New Days’ Future Kit is a toolbox with guides, materials, and visual tools that make it possible to bring diverse groups together to work experimentally, concretely, and co-creatively with aging and care of the future.

An essential part of the kit is the collection of speculative fragments from the future that consist of small glimpses, artifacts, and tales. The physical version contains actual versions of the artifacts and materials. These are introduced and used actively in workshops with us.

The toolkit is relevant for anyone working in the public or private sector with care. The digital version of the toolkit presented here is meant as an inspiration. The elements will provoke you and challenge your thoughts and ambitions for the future of care. If the tools make you curious, reach out to us and we’ll arrange a targeted workshop for you.

The toolbox results from a long-running process of exploring and learning from alternative and desirable futures and translating the insights into innovative experiments in the present…(More)”.

This Is the Difference Between a Family Surviving and a Family Sinking


Article by Bryce Covert: “…The excitement around policymaking is almost always in the moments after ink dries on a bill creating something new. But if a benefit fails to reach the people it’s designed for, it may as well not exist at all. Making government benefits more accessible and efficient doesn’t usually get the spotlight. But it’s often the difference between a family getting what it needs to survive and falling into hardship and destitution. It’s the glue of our democracy.

President Biden appears to have taken note of this. Late last year, he issued an executive order meant to improve the “customer experience and service delivery” of the entire federal government. He put forward some ideas, including moving Social Security benefit claims and passport renewals online, reducing paperwork for student loan forgiveness and certifying low-income people for all the assistance they qualify for at once, rather than making them seek out benefits program by program. More important, he shifted the focus of government toward whether or not the customers — that’s us — are having a good experience getting what we deserve.

It’s a direction all lawmakers, from the federal level down to counties and cities, should follow.

One of the biggest barriers to government benefits is all of the red tape to untangle, particularly for programs that serve low-income people. They were the ones wrangling with the I.R.S.’s nonfiler portal while others got their payments automatically. Benefits delivered through the tax code, which flow so easily that many people don’t think of them as government benefits at all, mostly help the already well-off. Programs for the poor, on the other hand, tend to be bloated with barriers like income tests, work requirements and in-person interviews. It’s not just about applying once, either; many require people to continually recertify, going through the process over and over again.

The hassle doesn’t just cost time and effort. It comes with a psychological cost. “You get mad at the D.M.V. because it takes hours to do something that should only take minutes,” Pamela Herd, a sociologist at Georgetown, said. “These kind of stresses can be really large when you’re talking about people who are on a knife’s edge in terms of their ability to pay their rent or feed their children.”…(More)”.

Randomistas vs. Contestistas


Excerpt by By Beth Simone Noveck: “Social scientists who either run experiments or conduct systematic reviews tend to be fervent proponents of the value of RCTs. But that evidentiary hierarchy—what some people call the “RCT industrial complex”—may actually lead us to discount workable solutions just because there is no accompanying RCT.

A trawl of the solution space shows that successful interventions developed by entrepreneurs in business, philanthropy, civil society, social enterprise, or business schools who promote and study open innovation, often by developing and designing competitions to source ideas, often come from more varied places. Uncovering these exciting social innovations lays bare the limitations of confining a definition of what works only to RCTs.

Many more entrepreneurial and innovative solutions are simply not tested with an RCT and are not the subject of academic study. As one public official said to me, you cannot saddle an entrepreneur with having to do a randomized controlled trial (RCT), which they do not have the time or know-how to do. They are busy helping real people, and we have to allow them “to get on with it.”

For example, MIT Solve, which describes itself as a marketplace for socially impactful innovation designed to identify lasting solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. It catalogs hundreds of innovations in use around the world, like Faircap, a chemical-free water filter used in Mozambique, or WheeLog!, an application that enables individuals and local governments to share accessibility information in Tokyo.

Research funding is also too limited (and too slow) for RCTs to assess every innovation in every domain. Many effective innovators do not have the time, resources, or know-how to partner with academic researchers to conduct a study, or they evaluate projects by some other means.

There are also significant limitations to RCTs. For a start, systematic evidence reviews are quite slow, frequently taking upward of two years, and despite published standards for review, there is a lack of transparency. Faster approaches are important. In addition, many solutions that have been tested with an RCT clearly do not work. Interestingly, the first RCT in an area tends to produce an inflated effect size….(More)”.

User-Centricity: What It Means, How It Works, Why It’s Needed


Policy Brief by UserCentriCities project: “.. looks critically at the need for putting citizens at the heart of digital government – and analyses six successful projects in key European cities: Bologna (Emilia Romagna Region), Espoo, Milan, Murcia, Rotterdam and Tallinn. Building on lessons learned in a year of structured interviews with leading officials in the UserCentriCities project, the policy brief looks at key trends driving breakthroughs in digital-service delivery – in the public and private sector – and proposes a five-point roadmap for greater Europe-national-local collaboration in the service of citizens. The policy brief will launch at The 2021 UserCentriCities Summit, in the presence of Boštjan Koritnik, minister for public administration of Slovenia, which currently holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union….(More)”.

Design for Social Innovation: Case Studies from Around the World


Book edited By Mariana Amatullo, Bryan Boyer, Jennifer May and Andrew Shea: “The United Nations, Australia Post, and governments in the UK, Finland, Taiwan, France, Brazil, and Israel are just a few of the organizations and groups utilizing design to drive social change. Grounded by a global survey in sectors as diverse as public health, urban planning, economic development, education, humanitarian response, cultural heritage, and civil rights, Design for Social Innovation captures these stories and more through 45 richly illustrated case studies from six continents.

From advocating to understanding and everything in between, these cases demonstrate how designers shape new products, services, and systems while transforming organizations and supporting individual growth.

How is this work similar or different around the world? How are designers building sustainable business practices with this work? Why are organizations investing in design capabilities? What evidence do we have of impact by design? Leading practitioners and educators, brought together in seven dynamic roundtable discussions, provide context to the case studies.

Design for Social Innovation is a must-have for professionals, organizations, and educators in design, philanthropy, social innovation, and entrepreneurship. This book marks the first attempt to define the contours of a global overview that showcases the cultural, economic, and organizational levers propelling design for social innovation forward today…(More)”

Developing indicators to support the implementation of education policies


OECD Report: “Across OECD countries, the increasing demand for evidence-based policy making has further led governments to design policies jointly with clear measurable objectives, and to define relevant indicators to monitor their achievement. This paper discusses the importance of such indicators in supporting the implementation of education policies.

Building on the OECD education policy implementation framework, the paper reviews the role of indicators along each of the dimensions of the framework, namely smart policy design, inclusive stakeholder engagement, and conducive environment. It draws some lessons to improve the contribution of indicators to the implementation of education policies, while taking into account some of their perennial challenges pertaining to the unintended effects of accountability. This paper aims to provide insights to policy makers and various education stakeholders, to initiate a discussion on the use and misuse of indicators in education, and to guide future actions towards a better contribution of indicators to education policy implementation…..(More)”.