Tools for Changemakers: Conversation with David Bollier

Mutual aid. Local money. Collaborative care. Alternative futures are being created around the world -. but not, for the most part, in plain sight. David Bollier’s new book – Commoner’s Catalog for Changemaking: Tools for the Transitions Ahead – brings dozens of social projects like these to [continue …]

2023-03-06T09:54:56+00:00March 19th, 2022|care, civic ecology, commoning, green finance, most read|

Social Food Forum: the takeaways

Social food projects re-make relationships between people, food and place | They reconnect urban and rural | As a medium of hospitality, they create solidarity and mutual understanding | They diversify income for farmers | They enhance the health and well-being of socially-isolated people | They can increase biodiversity ...

2022-10-04T10:10:09+00:00March 23rd, 2019|commoning, food systems|

Of apocalypse and forest gardens

Three hundred people came to South Devon in England for the fourth gathering of the Transition Network. They were a modest cross section of the many thousands of people now involved in 330 official Transition initiatives (up from 170 this time last year) and many more less formal groups around [continue …]

2022-08-23T13:47:59+00:00June 17th, 2010|commoning|

Hackers help government to open up

Paul Jongsma draws my attention to an intriguing event on 13 June called HackdeOverheid (Hack the government). HackdeOverheid will focus on building prototypes or web platforms that demonstrate in practise how government services can be improved when they are based on open-ness. The idea is to harness the passion of [continue …]

2023-05-11T07:19:54+00:00June 6th, 2009|commoning|

Doctors with iPhones

I’ve been back from New York a week and I’m still mesmerised by the story of Hello Health. Tamara Giltsoff, a service designer, introduced me to this wondrous new outfit who are making it easy again to see the doctor.
The [continue …]

2015-06-20T20:44:12+00:00May 8th, 2009|care, commoning|

From mega, to micro: What You Can Do With the City

The atmosphere at last week’s Megacities conference in Delft was subdued. I don’t suppose my own talk, which ploughed a similar path to the Debt, Diesel and Dämmerung narrative I mentioned yesterday, helped lighten the mood very much.
Spirits were low because it is becoming clear [continue …]

2022-09-28T11:36:44+00:00December 3rd, 2008|commoning|


I’m sorry, but if I hear one more “expert” on the box describe the financial crisis as “psychological” I’m going to barf. I also heard a French commentator today blame “the redemption factor” – which sounds biblical, but apparently refers to the price being put on that huge red chunk [continue …]

2008-10-10T08:21:01+00:00October 10th, 2008|commoning|

Design for social impact

bellagio.pngI was critical, at the time it was announced, of a plan by the Rockerfeller Foundation to convene a meeting about Design for Development. Their starting point was “to bring together the world’s best designers with people and organizations that work [continue …]

2022-09-28T13:30:40+00:00September 30th, 2008|commoning|

Dott 07 wrap event

Before we close the doors at Dott 07 for the last time, the final Dott 07 Explorers Club will take place in Newcastle on Wednesday 12 March. We will look back at Dott projects and discuss: what did we learn? and what happens next? We’ll have updates [continue …]

2008-03-08T14:57:07+00:00March 8th, 2008|commoning|

How to live well – but lighter

Picture 1.png
For three years now Doors has been involved in a Europe-wide project called EMUDE (it stands for “Emerging User Demands for Sustainable Solutions”. That’s European research for you!). A network of design schools, acting as ‘antennas’, has collected examples of social [continue …]

2007-04-24T09:23:20+00:00April 24th, 2007|commoning|

How the rich get … greener

I was looking for some data about the environmental impact of aviation and came across some good news! A website for us super-rich green folk called Helium lists luxury travel and real estate companies that promote eco-friendly travel. “You can spend over [continue …]

2007-04-15T18:54:00+00:00April 15th, 2007|commoning|

An angel called Pradsa

Are you shaping the tools or techniques that help other people shape their world? There is no job description for what you do. You mix dedication to social change, confidence with people and organisations, and technical knowledge or skills. You are part of a growing number of committed
people using innovation [continue …]

2007-02-18T19:56:38+00:00February 18th, 2007|commoning|

Creative class fights back

Two steps forward, one step back. In 2003 I gave a lecture called The Post-Spectacular City at a conference in Amsterdam. I argued that today’s “creative class”, having optimised the society of the spectacle, will be remembered for leaving behind narcissistic but meaningless cities. The talk was later included [continue …]

2022-10-21T12:09:43+00:00October 3rd, 2006|commoning|

Service as a journey

Is service design the next big thing after e-everything? If the recent surge in books and conferences is a guide, service design is at least a meme – if not yet a mania.
The trouble is, it can’t possibly be new. Seventy percent of the UK economy is [continue …]

2006-09-03T07:49:43+00:00September 3rd, 2006|commoning|

Slow design seminar

The way of thinking and acting that Slow Food proposes goes well beyond food and food systems. The idea of “slow” brings tradition to life, and links the quality perceived in products with the social and environmental quality of their production, and places of origin. An international seminar on the [continue …]

2006-06-14T15:38:55+00:00June 14th, 2006|commoning|

Chat about Aspen

Sorry ’bout the silence this last week,; I’ve been on the road. Still am, but Allan Cholnikov has started a discussion about what we are trying to achive with the Aspen Design Summit here. You don’t have to register or sign in, and you can choose to receive email for [continue …]

2023-04-21T17:01:59+00:00April 22nd, 2006|commoning|

Worker correspondents

More and more companies are using so-called “design ethnographers” to help them develop products in real-life situations (rather than in design studios). This has sparked debate about the ethics of using other peoples’ daily lives as raw material for product development. But is design ethnography new? At Doors 8 in [continue …]

2006-04-03T14:39:38+00:00April 3rd, 2006|commoning|

Hi, Protein!

Warm congratulations to one of our favourite and most respected newsletter-website things, Ninfomania aka Protein° Feed aka Protein° Supplement. Today, Protein celebrates it’s 300th issue, having first been published in September 1997 to 14 people. It is now enjoyed by an international audience of over 9,000 select subscribers. [continue …]

2006-03-25T09:53:40+00:00March 25th, 2006|commoning|

Active welfare in Helsinki

Emude, a consortium of design schools and research institutions – and Doors – has spent the last two years years looking at social innovation among creative communities in different parts of Europe. Having observed the emergence of what we call “active welfare” in many of these situations, we realise that [continue …]

2005-12-31T13:02:17+00:00December 31st, 2005|commoning|

Ethics, Inc

Only in America: ethics has become a business. In the wake of Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, passed in 2002 in the wake of financial scandals such as Enron and Tyco, a lot of companies are struggling to cope with the complexities of compliance. As James Hyatt writes in “corporations are [continue …]

2005-11-07T11:33:45+00:00November 7th, 2005|commoning|

Hungry and lonely

Is the collective intelligence of the web overrated? A couple of nights ago, 18 people turned up for dinner. We pushed three tables together and sat together around an irregular rectangle. It felt, to me at least, as if the shape and dimensions of the ad-hoc table did little to [continue …]

2005-08-11T07:30:40+00:00August 11th, 2005|commoning|

Of politics and Pimms

A Pimms-enhanced party at Demos, in London, was held to launch a new strategy for the organization called Building Everyday Democracy. According to the think tank’s director, Tom Bentley, “politics is fighting a losing battle against forms of theatre and spectacle that are more entertaining, and forms of conversation [continue …]

2005-06-07T13:05:43+00:00June 7th, 2005|commoning|

Edda scissorhands

A wondferful profile by Lynn Barber in Sundays’s (UK) Observer features the career of ‘The Scissor Sister’ or ‘human Google’ Edda Tasiemka who, after 55 years, is selling her amazing cuttings library and retiring. ‘Whizzy management types are fond of telling us that nowadays you can find everything [continue …]

2005-03-14T09:17:25+00:00March 14th, 2005|commoning|

Markets for “slivers of time”

Online auctions are booming. The phenomenon has been been labelled the ‘march of the micro-sellers’. But could sites like eBay, with its 105 million users, be harbingers of a more important transformation, when individuals start to exchange time and services online? Wingham Rowan in the UK is developing the technical [continue …]

2005-02-11T07:04:11+00:00February 11th, 2005|commoning|

Project Clinics at Doors 8

A core element will be Project Clinics (on the Wednesday and Friday). In these clinics, experts gathered together for Doors will evaluate real world projects and, we hope, help teams refocus their work in light of the lessons learned in the rest of the event.
We organised a similar event in [continue …]

2022-10-21T12:09:48+00:00January 4th, 2005|commoning|

Uxorious design

Speaking of glossaries, I found another one in a British report about People Centered Design (PCD). This glossary, which is much shorter than the CHI one I mention below, runs briskly from AHRB (Arts and Humanities Research Board) to UX. The latter stands here for User Experience – although [continue …]

2004-12-20T11:01:07+00:00December 20th, 2004|commoning|

All together now

There’s renewed interest in ensemble theatre as a form of organisation. A meeting of theatre directors and producers in the UK last month opened with this quote from Joan Littlewood, in 1961: ‘I do not believe in the supremacy of the director, designer, actor – or even of the writer. [continue …]

2023-04-18T09:04:41+00:00December 9th, 2004|commoning|

Civil Communities of Practice

Back to the soft stuff. “Might social problems that communities confront be structured as the kind of knowledge creation and/or problem solving that the open source software community has found new ways to solve?”. So asks Pekka Himanen (author of “The Hacker Ethic”) and colleagues in a recent report. [continue …]

2004-12-04T17:56:55+00:00December 4th, 2004|commoning|

How much does a project cost?

What is the total cost of ownership (TCO) of a design research project? If we knew, we’d probably make more realistic budgets for things like co-ordination, and communication, that often don’t get paid for, even though we do the work. Or else, if we knew the true time costs, but [continue …]

2023-04-18T09:04:39+00:00November 26th, 2004|commoning|

Health as service design at Doors 8

Will health systems bankrupt the west, drive medical staff to despair, and dissatify their users in perpetuity? The National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (Nesta), together with the Health Modernisation Agency, both from the UK, are supporting a series of projects to do with service design for health [continue …]

2004-11-02T08:21:07+00:00November 2nd, 2004|commoning|


This won’t be news to film buffs but I’m interested in the lessons for design projects. The Danish film cooperative Dogme have developed an interesting model of work. Co-founders von Trier and Vinterberg developed a set of ten rules that a Dogme film must conform to. These rules, referred to [continue …]

2004-10-06T12:51:10+00:00October 6th, 2004|commoning|

Open Welfare

Hilary Cottam is hoping to join us in New Delhi. She and Charles Leadbeater are writing a paper on “open welfare”. They observe: “The open model is not a traditional service delivery model. It relies on mass participation ion creation of the service. The boundary between users and producers is [continue …]

2022-10-21T12:06:57+00:00October 5th, 2004|commoning|

The thermodynamics of cooperation

(This is the text of my closing keynote talk at the European Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Work, Helsinki, 18 September, 2003.)
A few years back, I arrived in New York to meet my daughter Kate for a vacation. She seemed her normal sunny self but, as we chatted in the [continue …]

2003-11-12T20:51:18+00:00November 12th, 2003|commoning|

The thermodynamics of cooperation

This is the text of my closing keynote talk at the European Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Work, Helsinki, 18 September, 2003.
A few years back, I arrived in New York to meet my daughter Kate for a vacation. She seemed her normal sunny self but, as we chatted in the [continue …]

2003-09-22T18:01:24+00:00September 22nd, 2003|commoning|

Does your design research exist?

An internet sage once said that a web page never accessed does not really exist. Does the same logic apply to your design research? If nobody ‘gets it’, when you present your results, has anything been achieved?
Over recent months, I have seen years of work by design researchers almost wasted [continue …]

2002-11-12T21:07:30+00:00November 12th, 2002|commoning|

Design-recast: the world as spread-sheet

A lecture given to the Design Recast conference organised (by Jouke Kleerebezem) at the Jan Van Eyck Academy in Maastricht.
Trying to get a grip on design is rather like trying to grab hold of a shoal of herring. Orca whales do this by blowing upside-down funnels of air bubbles from [continue …]

2002-10-12T20:59:15+00:00October 12th, 2002|commoning|

Why is interaction design important?

Over the previous two years I had been helping Interaction Design Institute Ivrea develop its teaching and research programmes. One outcome was the following statement, which was written collaboratively with Gillian Crampton Smith’s team in Ivrea.
* Interaction design determines how people interact with computers and communications. This is an [continue …]

2002-01-22T17:40:16+00:00January 22nd, 2002|commoning|

File sharing the future

Infodrome, a one-day conference for the top civil servants of The Netherlands held in The Hague this month (April 2001).
Infodrome is a think-tank set up by the Dutch cabinet to analyse the consequences of information and communications technologies (ICTs) for government and its agencies. Its task is to expose [continue …]

2001-04-22T17:39:15+00:00April 22nd, 2001|commoning|

Design and elders: The Presence project

Imagine a world where every second European adult is over fifty years old. And where two-thirds of disposable consumer income is held by this age-group. By 2020 this will be a reality. There will be huge demand for services that enable older people to live independently in their own communities [continue …]

2015-06-20T20:06:12+00:00January 22nd, 2000|care, commoning|
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