Green Tourism: Why It Failed And How It Can Succeed

Packaged mass tours account for 80 percent of journeys to so-called developing countries, but destination regions receive five percent or less of the amount paid by the traveller. For local people on the ground, the injustice is absurd: if I were to pay e1,200 for a week long trek in Morocco’s Atlas mountains, just e50 would go to the cook and the mule driver who do the work. The mule, who works hardest, gets zilch. Can green travel be reformed?

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The green cup I’m holding (above) contains elderflower cordial, freshly-made by the nuns who live in a 16th century convent in Wernberg, Austria. One of their number, Sister Monika-Maria, has guided us barefoot on a circular “Path of Consciousness” over the lush Carinthian meadows you see in the background. Every few hundred metres, we stop for a short discussion about man’s changing relationship with nature.

Back in the convent’s enormous herb-garden (below), one of Sister Monika-Maria’s colleagues helps us Read More »

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Trust Is Not An Algorithm: Big Data Are Hot, But They Also Miss A Lot

[Illustration from]

By some accounts the world’s information is doubling every two years. This impressive if unprovable fact has got many people wondering: what to do with it?

Many big brands hope that the analysis of Big Data will give them a ‘360 degree view’ of customers: Who they’re interacting with, where they shop, how they think about a bank, hotel, or store.

Banks and insurance companies are especially fired up by the prospect that Big Data will yield more accurate and profitable pricing models. They’re also keeping a nervous eye on start-up land where a queue of newbies perceive an opportunity to Read More »

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Diseñando Para un mundo complejo. Acciones para lograr la sustentabilidad


I’m totally thrilled that my book has just been published in Spanish by my fabulous friends at Editorial Disegnio in Mexico City. Please tell everyone you know, once met, or vaguely heard of, who is Spanish-speaking, and who might be interested. Health warning: the “$” price shown means Mexican pesos, not US$.

Oh, and did I mention? Please tell *everyone*…..


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Cycle Commerce As An Ecosystem

(Illustration: Sameer Kulavoor Ghoda Bicycle Project)

At a workshop in Delhi a few weeks back, during the UnBox Festival, Arjun Mehta and myself posed the following question to a group of 20 professionals from diverse backgrounds: What new products, services or ingredients are needed to help a cycle commerce ecosystem flourish in India’s cities, towns and villages? Read More »

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Paranoid But Pretty

In his new show at the German Architecture Center (DAZ) Matthias Megyeri has developed a design language for the artefacts of protection and security in public space.

Megyeri poses the question: does protection have to be inconsistent with harmony and beauty? His answer is a family of padlocks, chains, fences, and razor wire that he describes as ‘lovable objects’. Read More »

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What Makes A Change Lab Successful?

The UK government’s digital services platform,, has won the Design of the Year award – and if I were running a big IT consulting firm grown fat on big government contracts, I’d be worried. is a revolutionary web operation that governments around the world are beginning to notice. Twenty four UK government departments will be on the site by the end of the month –  and Government Digital Services (GDS) plans to bring 300 adjacent agencies on board in a next phase. In all, the programme will replace 2,000 websites.

In the UK, more than a billion transactions per year take Read More »

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The Ecozoic City

Over the ages we’ve invested huge amounts of effort and energy to keep cities and nature separate. What would it mean if that were about to change? 

The writer Thomas Berry described as the ecozoic the “reintegration of human endeavours into a larger ecological consciousness”. The ecozoic, Berry believed, would supplant the Anthropocene age, that we live in now, in which human needs take precedence over the health of the earth’s forests, oceans, and other living systems. Our species will only begin to make true progress, Berry believed, when

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Artefact as Campfire: Where People and Living Systems Meet

(Photo: Mapping a bioregion with plants – Joachim Robert Cyanotype workshop at FuturePerfect 2012)

In what ways can design help people interact with living systems in ways that help both of them thrive? And, what small practical steps might one take to test the effect of small actions on the system as a whole? Read More »

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Cycle Commerce: The Red Blood Cells of a Smart City

[The chart above is from the online catalogue of cargo bikes at Nutzrad]

India’s many millions of bicycle and rickshaw vendors embody the entrepreneurship, sustainable mobility, social innovation, and thriving local economies, that a sustainable city needs.

As an ecosystem, they’re also part of the metabolism that makes a city smart.

That said, cycle commerce is a challenge for a city’s managers. Many different actors are involved in bicycle commerce – often with differing or downright conflicting agendas. Managing this kind of urban constellation is Read More »

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