Arthur Smid

Participating in Public: Municipal Software for Online Dialogue and Decision-Making

Many here will already be familiar with government websites but we’ll look specifically at the ways people connect with decision-makers in three countries: Iceland, Spain, and Taiwan. They all use software for public engagement. In each country, a government official upon election and from within the administration catalyzed its use. This journey through the development of digital tools for democracy will give us an idea how participatory political processes might be introduced to local and state governments in the US. Continue reading ⇒

Networked Humanity: How Do We Know What is Right or Wrong?

In The Anatomy of Inequality, author Per Molander describes one of the ways conservatives defend the status quo, a tactic called knowledge skepticism. By saying we can’t know a thing for certain, over the years conservatism has attempted to undermine egalitarian theories from advancing an alternative to the status quo. In human history, the status quo has been conditions of great inequality—an exception being the period after World War II to the 70s and on to present day in the Nordic countries. Continue reading ⇒

The Nordic Countries and a Winnable Campaign for Women’s Rights in the US

From the audience, listening to Sanders, it sounded like harangue. This is completely different, the opposite of the inspirational tone delivered by Obama, and it was different in another way. Sanders, in an early televised debate, lauded Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. This is the real difference between the candidates: Sanders didn’t present an amorphous hope, an idealized change, he pointed directly at social policy that works, that’s currently in place in other countries, social programs where the citizens have placed a significant portion of their income to public rather than private consumption. Continue reading ⇒

Precedent for Digital Democracy: Comedy, the Best Party, and the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland

Reading Jón Gnarr, How I Became the Mayor of a Large City in Iceland and Changed the World, I found that a platform for citizens to inform each other and vote on issues had been implemented in Reykjavík beginning in October 2011. He has a chapter called “The World is Getting Better and Better” where he talks about the online platform Betri Reykjavík for citizens to find all the information about plans and projects for city districts and “read the ideas, opinions, and suggestions of others, discuss the proposed concept, present your own ideas, and then vote for or against.” Continue reading ⇒

We Tell Stories that Reinforce Power: God, Royalty, and Professionals in Popular Culture

The stories in our culture reinforce the power structure of society. And western culture has become so globally dominant that it’s big enough to contain any story of rebellion against authority (emphasis on contain) without itself being threatened. Anyone want to buy an Occupy T-shirt? Even protest can be commercialized. Continue reading ⇒

Complementary Currency: Create a Diverse Monetary Ecosystem and a Resilient Economy

The dollar needs no introduction, but complementary currencies have different forms and uses. Though diverse, they all exist to facilitate exchange within a community. In times of high unemployment when spending money is scarce, a complementary currency can match the unmet needs with the unused resources of a local government. Continue reading ⇒

How about a Wiki for storytelling? Wiki-novel: Progressive Storytelling and Modern Bookmaking

A group of authors meet together as would musicians and tell each other stories. They decide to collaborate on a writing project and figure that something like a Google Doc would work. One of the writers is also a programmer and she has an idea to write some code for a wiki-novel. Continue reading ⇒

Writing Instruments and Human Expression Through Time

Over tens of thousands of years, the tools to create symbols and texts have affected our expression. People make marks, patterns, intricate patterns woven of meaning. These social objects are shared points of reference. And their form affects how concepts can be communicated. How clear, how fast, how deep. Continue reading ⇒

EARTHQUAKE! A Board Game

Before the catastrophic quake, you and your friends must reinforce the tank farm that stores the hazardous liquids of city life. Play with or against each other to built structures large enough to reach the tanks. You can build, steal, invest, and profit, but the site has to be secured from at least three sides or you all will suffer the world’s single largest environmental disaster! The earthquake is a natural hazard, inevitable, and survivable—the choices you make in building the city determine whether the quake results in disaster. Continue reading ⇒

Paying for a Massively Multiplayer Online City, or Building Resilience

After seeing a digital model of Portland at the studio of nc3d during their Design Week open house, I asked if they considered how to finance an interactive online version of the city. One of their employees said yeah, they’d considered having a zone where people could explore for free and then it'd cost to go further into the city. I asked if they'd sell ads in the model (as that's the basic financial model of the web). Then I quickly launched into a description of a Common Ownership Self-Assessed Tax. Continue reading ⇒