Rethinking Engagement in Cities: Ending the Professional vs. Citizen Divide

Rethinking Engagement in Cities: Ending the Professional vs. Citizen Divide

Cities are among humankind’s grandest and most complex creations. Even small urban communities represent the cumulative result of literally hundreds of thousands of public and private, individual and collective decisions over time. They are the playgrounds of spontaneity.

Such an understanding of how cities come into being and evolve is hardly new. Nor are its implications for how we plan and govern cities. While the language has changed, these ideas — and how those with custodianship for urban life approach their responsibilities — have been around for nearly as long as there have been cities. We can look to Ancient Greek political thought for notions about participation and empowerment that have been dressed up for our own times.

We need not look back so far. Anyone who has thought seriously about the contemporary urban condition, for example, has encountered the writings of Jane Jacobs. The specific insights of the ancients and the contemporary deserve serious engagement, criticism and debate. The importance of community engagement and mobilization, one might have thought, has become indisputable over several centuries of reformulation.

Since the financial crisis of 2008, a plentiful number of urban professionals around the world – including economists, planners, architects, and administrators of all types – have dismissed citizen participation as an extravagant expense that only gets in the way of efficient urban management. They reveal a steady re-entrenchment of top-down approaches to shaping the city in which professionals know best. Involving citizens, it seems, just costs too much.

Continue reading @ Rethinking Engagement in Cities: Ending the Professional vs. Citizen Divide.

Using Facebook could help boost exam grades

Using Facebook could help boost exam grades

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/facebook/9771416/Using-Facebook-could-help-boost-exam-grades.html

Cities Could Use Your Tweets To Build Better Infrastructure

These days, people are more likely to gripe about civic issues on Twitter than actually talk to city officials. But in some cases, that social media activity is all a city needs.

This week, IBM unveiled the results of its Social Sentiment Index on traffic in India. The index, which looked at 168,330 comments on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites and “derived 54,234 High Value Snippets through a series of advanced filtration techniques for insight analysis,” reveals some strong conclusions about traffic in the country, and how city planners might alleviate it in the future…

Continue @ Cities Could Use Your Tweets To Build Better Infrastructure | Co.Exist: World changing ideas and innovation.

Tunnel Vision: Subterranean Park to Stay Sunny with Fiber-Optic Skylights

Tunnel Vision: Subterranean Park to Stay Sunny with Fiber-Optic Skylights [Slide Show]: Scientific American

More than a decade ago a group of New York City residents launched an ambitious experiment to build a park atop an expanse of abandoned elevated freight train tracks. Today the High Line, which opened in 2009, provides locals, commuters and tourists with more than a kilometer of green space several meters above the urban bustle below. Emboldened by the project’s success, a team of designers and engineers has proposed the polar opposite idea: transform a deserted underground trolley depot into a haven for leisurely recreation.

New Yorkers are getting a glimpse this month of what the Lowline park might look like thanks to an exhibit demonstrating technology that channels enough sunlight to subterranean spaces to support plant life. The exhibit—on display September 15–27—features a skylight that delivers the sun’s energy from an outdoor solar collector to an indoor canopy for distribution. Living below the aluminum canopy is an impressive array of flora specially chosen for its ability to thrive in low light…

Continue @ Tunnel Vision: Subterranean Park to Stay Sunny with Fiber-Optic Skylights [Slide Show]: Scientific American.

The Future Of Storytelling: Immersion, Integration, Interactivity, Impact

lines

As technology becomes more advanced and more accessible across multiple platforms, it’s only natural for consumers to expect increasingly higher standards of creativity and engagement from content creators. However, with social media, apps, tablets, smartphones, websites, TV, etc. all part of the audience’s viewing habit, learning how stories should be evolving and how to make narratives work across platforms is a complicated matter. A new study offers some perspectives on what audiences may be looking for in their stories.

Research consultancy Latitude recently released phase one of a two-part study titled “The Future of Storytelling” that looks to uncover trends and audience attitudes about content. Overall, the study revealed that audiences are looking for a blurring of barriers between content and reality in a layered yet cohesive execution. The company asked “early adopters” around the world how they wanted to experience stories and asked them to reinvent some of today’s well-known stories accordingly (according to the company, early adopters are “people in over 10 countries who are more likely to own smartphones, tablets or both; who are already more likely to seek out content through multiple avenues; and who are more likely to be aware of the possibilities that the Internet and emerging technologies present”).

Based on participants’ responses the study zeroes in on “four I’s” that will continue to shape storytelling:

  • Immersion: Delving deeper into the story through supplementary context and sensory experiences.
  • Interactivity: Allowing consumers to become part of the narrative and possibly influence its outcome.
  • Integration: Having a seamless connection among all platforms being used and going beyond just replicating content on different devices.
  • Impact: Inspiring consumers to take action of some kind, e.g. purchase a product, sign up for a service, support a cause, etc.

Other findings from the study:

“Transmedia is more than media shifting:” 82% wanted complementary, not duplicating, mobile apps for their TV watching experience.

“The real world is a platform:” 52% consider the real world as another platform in which 3-D technology, augmented reality, and the like are expected to link the digital and physical.

Control: 79% expressed the desire to become part of a story, interacting with its main characters.

“So far, one of the biggest insights for us is that the emergence of new technologies means there’s a largely untapped opportunity to allow people to tie stories directly into their own lives—bringing narratives ‘out of the screen,’ so to speak, often through meaningful connections with characters,” says Neela Sakaria, EVP/Managing Director at Latitude. “We’ve distilled our findings down into a few key principles, and our hope is that content creators begin to embrace the idea that the desire for interesting cross-platform experiences isn’t as niche as some might think. Innovative storytelling isn’t just for fantasy fiction, and there are exciting new opportunities for news creators and even retailers to use storytelling principles to engage people more deeply.”

via The Future Of Storytelling: Immersion, Integration, Interactivity, Impact | Co.Create: Creativity \ Culture \ Commerce.

Research study shows men find dancing women more attractive during most fertile time

dancing women

Researchers from the University of Göttingen in Germany have found that men viewing videos of silhouettes of dancing women were more likely to describe those who were ovulating at the time as more attractive than women at other stages of their menstrual cycle, which goes contrary to the longstanding theory of “concealed” ovulation in humans. The team led by Bernhard Fink reports on their findings in a paper published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

Despite a growing body of evidence that suggests that men are able to not only detect when women are ovulating, but find them more attractive, many old school scholars maintain that human beings don’t have anything resembling going into “heat” during the most fertile stage of the their menstrual cycle, as is evident in other species, such as cats. Now new research casts even more doubt on the theory.

The researchers picked up where another study left off, where a group found that strippers tended to get better tips when ovulating. Unfortunately, because of the close proximity of the dancers and the patrons, there was no way to tell what it was about the women that caused the men to want to tip more. The new team sought better control by eliminating the possibility of smell or other factors by recording forty eight women (aged 19 to 33) dancing in silhouette, in similar outfits and with their hair tied down. They then showed the videos to two hundred young male students at the university. They report that the men, who didn’t know what the purpose of the study was, much less which women were ovulating and which weren’t, found those women who were ovulating at the time they were recorded dancing, to be “significantly more attractive.” The team also recorded silhouettes of the women simply walking around and found that the majority of male viewers found those who were ovulating more attractive in that scenario as well.

Research regarding whether women behave differently when ovulating has generated controversy as more and more studies have found that men are able to pick up on subtle changes to body movements during the times when women are most fertile. Some have suggested that such studies are more about seeking headlines than science, while researchers insist that their studies show that women behave in ways that men see as sexier when they are their most fertile, which biologically speaking would seem to make the most sense. But that critics say, ignores the fact that people have evolved over their long history, quashing animalistic instincts that led our forebears to behave far differently than what is going on today.

More information: DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2012.06.005

Journal reference: Personality and Individual Differences

via Research study shows men find dancing women more attractive during most fertile time.

Bigger Brain = Social Media Success

social mind

Hiring a social media manager or a salesperson? Maybe you should have the finalists’ brains scanned in an fMRI.

A larger orbital prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain associated with decision-making and cognitive processing, has been shown to correlate with greater social skills, according to a study by a team of UK researchers. Among the scientists was Robin Dunbar, who pioneered the idea that the average human is limited to a social circle of about 150 people (see Your Brain’s Twitter Limit: 150 Real Friends), a constant now known as the Dunbar number…

via Bigger Brain = Social Media Success | Neuromarketing.

True Secret to Success: Gratitude

I’m utterly convinced that the key to lifelong success is the regular exercise of a single emotional muscle: gratitude.

People who approach life with a sense of gratitude are constantly aware of what’s wonderful in their life. Because they enjoy the fruits of their successes, they seek out more success. And when things don’t go as planned, people who are grateful can put failure into perspective.

By contrast, people who lack gratitude are never truly happy. If they succeed at a task, they don’t enjoy it. For them, a string of successes is like trying to fill a bucket with a huge leak in the bottom. And failure invariably makes them bitter, angry, and discouraged.

Therefore, if you want to be successful, you need to feel more gratitude. Fortunately, gratitude, like most emotions, is like a muscle: The more you use it, the stronger and more resilient it becomes…

via True Secret to Success: Gratitude | Inc.com.