Exercising our Freedom and Intelligence: Part 9

dialogue-1In his book, Societal Systems: Planning, Policy and Complexity, John Warfield (1976) — motivated by our inability to resolve societal problems — focused on developing methods to support our collective intelligence. Although Warfield was writing 40 years ago, in 1976, his words resonate today, in 2016:

“Examples of important societal problems abound – wars, crime, poverty, urban problems, regional problems, international problems, inflation, malnutrition, starvation, and disease. Experience shows how imperfectly we deal with these problems…Shortages impend in energy, food, water, affection, wilderness, knowledge, personal freedom, and wisdom. Excesses impend in pollution, population, crime, hatred, war, ignorance, and human suppression…Societal problems, being interlocked, challenge human ingenuity” (p. 1 – 3).

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Exercising Our Freedom and Intelligence: Part 8

teamsI am not an optimist, but a great believer of hope. ― Nelson Mandela

The future is uncertain. There is little doubt about that.  Although scientific infrastructures, explanatory scientific models, open data platforms, and methods of predicting the future are constantly evolving, our ability to predict and plan for the future remains limited.  But there is one certainty, at least:  we will worry about our future.  Our worry is understandable.  We want to know what the scenario for our future is.  How will the story play out for us, our children, our grandchildren, and all our many relatives?  And if we have a tendency to think big, we might ask, how will the story of life on Earth unfold?

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Creating eBooks for Children – Let’s Do It Together!

childrensbooks-1Story books for children have a long history and are universally valued by children and parents alike. Digital stories for children offer new ways to share stories and advance literacy skills in children. The production of a quality eBook often requires a team that includes authors, graphic designers, professional actors for custom narration, music soundtrack and sound effects, and editors and page layout designers for different devices and operating systems. In order to create quality eBooks, the design team benefits from an awareness of what key stakeholders value. For example, what do children, parents, and teachers look for and hope for when they open up their eBook? And if the goal is to design pedagogically valuable eBooks — books that foster literacy skill development – how do we design such books?

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The City Environment and Happiness Across the Lifespan: The impact of place and government performance

empire-state-buildingMillions of people migrate every year from rural to urban areas.  At a time when most cities around the world are projected to experience exponential growth (United Nations, 2015), more work is needed to understand how the city environment influences happiness and health across the lifespan (see recent journal article here). The population of the world is growing, cities are getting bigger, and the ongoing environmental design challenges are immense.  If we’re going to live in a city for the whole of our life—from childhood to old age—along with millions of other people, we need to think very carefully about how we design our cities.

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Exercising our Freedom and Intelligence: Part 7

BirdsThis series of blog posts is about collective intelligence and teams.  We have applied John Warfield’s collective intelligence methods in a variety of projects. In parallel, we have sought to build upon John Warfield’s vision for systems science by describing how collective intelligence methods can be embedded within an educational support structure. More recently, I have been thinking about the principle of freedom as non-domination and how it can be used to inform both structural and relational design choices that facilitate more impactful collective intelligence work on a larger scale. My next blog post will focus on the application of collective intelligence to the design of technology supporting participatory democracy.

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Exercising Our Freedom and Intelligence: Part 6

teamsFacilitating team communication and problem solving is challenging, but it is hugely important and incredibly rewarding. Successful teams not only produce high quality outcomes, the social processes that teams use in carrying out their work can enhance members’ capability to work together interdependently in the future, and the team experience itself can also contribute positively to the learning and personal wellbeing of individual team members (Hackman & Woolley, 2008).

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Exercising Our Freedom and Intelligence: Part 5

BirdsWarfield notes that understanding societal problems always involves an effort to identify how problems in the problem situation interact.  This requirement to understand the situation is the same for societal problems that operate on a large scale, such as international peace keeping or national well-being, and for societal problems that operate on an apparently smaller scale, such as improving education in a local school.  As such, when a team comes together in an effort to resolve a societal problem, effort is needed to understand the set of problems that interact in the problem situation, and the nature of these interactions.

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