iA


Community-owned renewable energy in Germany

Brickstarter the book
Now available for download as PDF (33mb) and purchase via print on demand. Brickstarter the book contains 80 dense pages filled with the research presented here, refined and reformatted, as well as entirely new essays and illustrations. This book is a primer for people working on problems at the intersection of crowdfunding/sourcing, social media, urban planning [...] Read more – ‘Brickstarter the book’.
What happens next?
From the very start, the response to Brickstarter has been incredible. We knew as soon as we started writing (and seeing your anxious inquiries about our launch date) that we had hit a nerve. The momentum behind crowdfunding in contemporary culture and the equally great frustration with the opacity of the way our cities evolve [...] Read more – ‘What happens next?’.
What can government learn from crowdsourcing? 2/2
All of the examples presented in our Fact Cards have features that could be adopted, one way or another, by public services to develop public decision-making more ‘public’. When building a platform, a number of things need to happen already at the stage when the foundations are laid. Fundamental questions need to be discussed before [...] Read more – ‘What can government learn from crowdsourcing? 2/2’.
What can government learn from crowdsourcing? 1/2
Last week I posted about how crowdfunding initiatives have been facing headwind in Finland owing much to the helplessness of authorities, who seem paralysed when coming into contact with new ways of harnessing the internet. Our series of Fact Cards have showcased some of the interesting examples globally. These projects usually take the form of [...] Read more – ‘What can government learn from crowdsourcing? 1/2’.
Gray area
Crowdfunding could be a nice shot in the arm to boost the sluggish economy. Amongst our Fact Cards there are some great examples internationally, but for some reason the Finnish authorities have taken a resistant stand and the examples we have posted from Finland are all about crowdsourcing not funding. Positioned somewhere in the gray areas [...] Read more – ‘Gray area’.
Community-owned renewable energy in Germany
A few weeks back, I was on vacation in a northern German small town, talking to an old friend over coffee, waiting for the rain to pass so that we could get our bike ride in the nearby hills started. I told him about my research here at Sitra, which is mainly concerned with local [...] Read more – ‘Community-owned renewable energy in Germany’.
Provocation IV: Open Questions
Note: This post is part of a series presenting the contents of our Brickstarter exhibition at the inaugural Istanbul Design Biennial, October 13-December 12th. The Full text in a legible font size: “The architecture of tomorrow will be … both a means of knowledge and a means of action.” Formulaire pour un urbanisme nouveau —Ivan Chtcheglov (1953) There is [...] Read more – ‘Provocation IV: Open Questions’.
Provocation III: Design Probes
Note: This post is part of a series presenting the contents of our Brickstarter exhibition at the inaugural Istanbul Design Biennial, October 13-December 12th. The Full text in a legible font size: Brickstarter looks like a prototype of a crowdfunding website, but is really an exercise in navigating back and forth between matter and dark matter, between the malleable [...] Read more – ‘Provocation III: Design Probes’.
Provocation II: Dark Matter
Note: This post is part of a series presenting the contents of our Brickstarter exhibition at the inaugural Istanbul Design Biennial, October 13-December 12th. The Full text in a legible font size: “If you really want to change the city, or want a real struggle, a real fight, then it would require re-engaging with government … with these structures [...] Read more – ‘Provocation II: Dark Matter’.
Provocation I: The Crowd
Note: This post is part of a series presenting the contents of our Brickstarter exhibition at the inaugural Istanbul Design Biennial, October 13-December 12th. The Full text in a legible font size: Last year it was kicking off everywhere. Upheavals in Tahrir Square, Zuccotti Park, Croydon, Athens, Moscow, and elsewhere demonstrate that citizens are actively engaged in [...] Read more – ‘Provocation I: The Crowd’.
Brickstarter goes Turkish
Apologies for the radio silence lately. We’ve been working hard on a number of other projects here in the strategic design unit at Sitra. Those include a Helsinki Design Lab event coming up in a few days, launching a food entrepreneurship bootcamp called Open Kitchen, and preparing Brickstarter for an exhibition. We’re very happy to [...] Read more – ‘Brickstarter goes Turkish’.
Fact Card: Holvi
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Launched in 2012, Holvi is not a ‘traditional’ crowdfunding platform for projects, but instead it offers project groups an online bank service with a visual interface [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Holvi’.
Fact Card: Mesenaatti.me
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Mesenaatti is a prototype for a Finnish crowdfunding platform. The project has been shaping for the past couple of years in the developer group and is [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Mesenaatti.me’.
Fact Card: Voordekunst
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Started in 2010, Voordekunst is a Dutch crowdfunding platform aiming at supporting cultural projects. How does it work? Registered users post projects on the website and run [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Voordekunst’.
Fact Card: Indiegogo
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Indiegogo is an international crowdfunding platform launched in 2008. Indiegogo has many of the same basic features as, for example, Kickstarter. Indiegogo is open for projects [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Indiegogo’.
Fact Card: Kiva.org
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Kiva is a non-profit organisation founded in 2005 leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions to alleviate poverty. Kiva enables individuals to lend [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Kiva.org’.
Fact Card: Lucky Ant
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Launched in January 2012, Lucky Ant is another example of extending crowdfunding to local businesses. Like Smallknot, the service gives small business owners a way to [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Lucky Ant’.
Fact Card: Neighborhood Matching Fund (Seattle)
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Created already back in 1988, the Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF) program provides community groups with resources from the City of Seattle for community-driven projects enhancing and strengthening [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Neighborhood Matching Fund (Seattle)’.
Fact Card: Smallknot
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Launched in early 2012, Smallknot lets people invest in the small businesses in their community in exchange for goods, services, special perks and other benefits. Smallknot [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Smallknot’.
Fact Card: Neighbor.ly
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Launched in July 2012, Neighbor.ly is a crowdfunding platform designed to accept projects only from local governmental and civic-natured entities which are then funded by local [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Neighbor.ly’.
Fact Card: Change by Us (NYC)
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Started in the summer of 2011, Change by Us is a developed version of Give a Minute, featured in our previous Fact Card. Change by Us [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Change by Us (NYC)’.
Fact Card: Give a Minute
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Give a Minute is a platform for public dialogue about improving urban environment. The website acts as a virtual billboard for ideas allowing people to publish [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Give a Minute’.
Fact Card: Spacehive
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Spacehive is a funding platform for neighbourhood improvement projects. Like projects featured on Kickstarter, Spacehive has an all-or-nothing funding model meaning projects must be fully-funded or [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Spacehive’.
Fact Card: ioby (In Our Backyard)
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? ioby is an environmental nonprofit organisation with a a mission to deepen civic engagement in cities by connecting individuals directly to community-led and neighbour-funded environmental projects in [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: ioby (In Our Backyard)’.
Fact Card: Neighborland
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? “I want _____ in my neighborhood” is the starting point for projects on Neighborland, a service for people to share their ideas and insights for improving [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Neighborland’.
Fact Card: Kickstarter
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Hardly in need of much introduction, Kickstarter is one of the most well-known crowdfunding tools and platforms for projects. After launching in April 2009, Kickstarter has [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Kickstarter’.
Fact Card: Osallistuva Budjetointi
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Politicians and public officials are often in charge when it comes to deciding how public money is spent. Unfortunately, the opinions and insight of citizens are [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Osallistuva Budjetointi’.
Brickstarter in the news
As you may have noticed, we’ve been in summer mode during July which means that posting was light. Luckily we had Maija join us before the summer, and she was able to prepare a series of fact cards that have been popping up every week. We started with a survey of initiatives here in Finland [...] Read more – ‘Brickstarter in the news’.
Fact Card: Talkootarjotin
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Talkootarjotin is an online service for coordinating volunteer work and matching volunteers and projects in need of volunteers. Currently under construction the open source service is, [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Talkootarjotin’.
Fact Card: Joukkoenkeli
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Joukkoenkeli is a new Finnish service for crowdsourcing: a shared collaboration platform for people, businesses, government, and third sector – all together or separately. Joukkoenkeli tries [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Joukkoenkeli’.
Fact Card: Webvolunteering.org
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Webvolunteering offers online volunteering tools and connects volunteer and non-governmental organisations with people who offer their time to contribute to projects beyond just collecting money on [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Webvolunteering.org’.
Fact Card: make.helsinki
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? make.helsinki is a collaborative project between Clear Village and DEMOS Helsinki to explore how public space can be used in novel ways when designed in a participatory [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: make.helsinki’.
Fact Card: Mieluisa Tampere
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Mieluisa Tampere is run by the Mieluisa collective. The project aims to bring forward ideas to make Tampere a better place for its residents. Mieluisa Tampere [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Mieluisa Tampere’.
Fact Card: Kansanvalta
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Kansanvalta.fi is a repository for information on Finnish democracy. The website serves citizens, researchers, government professionals, educators, and others interested in democracy and related issues. The [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Kansanvalta’.
Fact Card: Hukkatila ry.
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Hukkatila ry. is an association aiming at enlivenment of the city space and culture in Tampere. The association was registered in May 2012. What’s happening? Hukkatila [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Hukkatila ry.’.
Fact Card: Otakantaa.fi
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Otakantaa.fi is a platform for ministries to collect citizens’ opinions and experiences about topics that are being prepared. The website is online both in Finnish and [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Otakantaa.fi’.
Fact Card: Hukkatila Oy
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? The concept of Hukkatila initiated at the Peloton Innovation Camp in November 2011. Hukkatila is a 21st century real estate development company and the concept was [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Hukkatila Oy’.
Fact Card: Porkkanamafia
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Instead of boycotts, Porkkanamafia (‘carrotmob’) offers to spend money in order to support the business if the business is willing to make a socially responsible change. [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Porkkanamafia’.
Fact Card: Digitalkoot
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Digitalkoot (‘digital voluntary work’) is a game-ified platform for citizens to correct text in the articles of the digitised newspaper collection of Kansalliskirjasto (the National Library [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Digitalkoot’.
Fact Card: Stadin aikapankki
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Stadin Aikapankki is a community-based exchange system. A complementary trading network operates without money and provides its users the means to exchange goods and services. The [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Stadin aikapankki’.
Brickstarter prototype v0.1, and using sketches to ask questions
Previously on Brickstarter: our project is about sketching new cultures of public decision-making, predicated on reversing NIMBY cultures to become YIMBY cultures. We’re creating a platform for making suggestions about how to improve your neighbourhood or environment, and then turn those proposals into projects. We do this in order to start constructive conversations within and [...] Read more – ‘Brickstarter prototype v0.1, and using sketches to ask questions’.
Fact Card: Aloitekanava.fi
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Aloitekanava (‘Initiative Channel’) enables young citizens to take part in municipal decision making online and to give suggestions to improve their immediate surroundings. Aloitekanava responds to [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Aloitekanava.fi’.
Fact Card: Avoin Ministeriö
Fact Card is a series of posts summarising crowdsourcing and public decision making initiatives relevant to our project. Please post a comment or email us with any clarification. What? Avoin Ministeriö (‘Open Ministry’) started on 1 March 2012 in accordance with the new Citizens’ Initiative Act. Avoin Ministeriö is a crowd sourcing platform for citizens. [...] Read more – ‘Fact Card: Avoin Ministeriö’.
Conversation with Nene Tsuboi & Tuomas Toivonen (Kulttuurisauna)
Although the sauna holds a special place in the heart of Finland, it’s not so often these days that a new public sauna is built. They’ve fallen out of fashion with the rise of private saunas that are now built into most residences. As of 2010 there were 1.5 million saunas in flats alone here [...] Read more – ‘Conversation with Nene Tsuboi & Tuomas Toivonen (Kulttuurisauna)’.
Readings: Together by Richard Sennett
One thing that Brickstarter has been very good at so far is adding to the proverbial bedside stack of books. On our field research visit to Berlin, Dan and I stopped into the excellent bookshop Pro QM where I picked up a copy of Richard Sennett’s latest book, Together: The rituals, pleasures, and politics of [...] Read more – ‘Readings: Together by Richard Sennett’.
Update: Where we’re at in May 2012
Every now and then I look over and Dan has a new set of sketches on his desk. They’re usually boxes within boxes, which means he’s drawing out versions of the various screens that will comprise Brickstarter. The boxes are chunks of interaction that he’s nudging around. He draws, we talk occasionally, and eventually the [...] Read more – ‘Update: Where we’re at in May 2012’.
Early product sketches, March-April 2012
Increasingly all our projects at Sitra are being produced in as open and legible a fashion as possible. We’re a public body, with a mission of stimulating system change, and generating debates as to what that might mean, so sharing is a strategy as well as a (good) obligation. With that in mind, we’ll be [...] Read more – ‘Early product sketches, March-April 2012’.
Vastustuksesta myönteiseen muutosvoimaan
Briefly in English: This first post in Finnish explains the Brickstarter project basics. Moving forward we aspire to have all posts with a bilingual summary. As resources allow, of course. Kun lähiympäristöön aiotaan rakentaa vaikkapa tuulivoimala ja asukkaat alkavat vastustamaan sitä, on kyse ilmiöstä nimeltä NIMBY. Nimby tulee sanoista not in my backyard, ei minun [...] Read more – ‘Vastustuksesta myönteiseen muutosvoimaan’.
Conversation with Finn Williams (Sub-Plan, Friends of Arnold Circus, Croydon Council &c)
We were fortunate to have Finn Williams in Helsinki recently, courtesy of a WDC event called Unbuilt Helsinki (organised by Nene Tsuboi of NOW etc. and Benjamin of Åbäke etc. with the Museum of Finnish Architecture.) Finn is part of the urban design team at Croydon Council in the UK (one of the largest London boroughs) as [...] Read more – ‘Conversation with Finn Williams (Sub-Plan, Friends of Arnold Circus, Croydon Council &c)’.
A timely global survey of crowdfunding platforms
Trade publication Crowdfunding.org have just released a survey of global crowdfunding activity in 2011. The full report comes in at a $1000, but I browsed through the free abridged version and pulled out some useful findings. They break the market down into four categories based on what the person giving funds can expect to receive [...] Read more – ‘A timely global survey of crowdfunding platforms’.
For Involved Urbanism
I’ve responded to a recent post entitled “Against Kickstarter Urbanism” by Alexandra Lange over at Design Observer and the response is included in full below. Before getting into that, however, I wanted to propose that “kickstarter urbanism” is not a thing, really. What Lange writes about is not a site enabling or creating a movement so [...] Read more – ‘For Involved Urbanism’.
Conversation with Rodrigo Araya, Tironi Asociados, Chile
On the phone to Alejandro Gutierrez the other day, talking citizen participation, he said I had to meet his Chilean colleague, Rodrigo Araya of Tironi Asociados. Rodrigo, and Tironi, were doing amongst the most interesting and effective citizen participation work around, apparently. A few weeks later, Rodrigo happened to be in northern Europe, so we reeled [...] Read more – ‘Conversation with Rodrigo Araya, Tironi Asociados, Chile’.
A curiosity of a couple of Greek city-states
“Democracy was a curiosity of a couple of Greek city-states where the decision-making polity could turn out in one place all together. It only became a generally workable system, at population-scale, after print. So my conclusion is that when communications tools lead to radical increases in the number of producers of media (not just the [...] Read more – ‘A curiosity of a couple of Greek city-states’.
Interview with +Pool
Archie (middle) and Dong-Ping (right). Source: pluspool.org On a sunny Manhattan morning I met Archie Lee Coates IV and Dong-Ping Wong to discuss +Pool, their attempt to crowdfund a public pool in the East River that we’ve previously discussed on this site. Two years into the project, Archie and Dong-Ping are still energized by the [...] Read more – ‘Interview with +Pool’.
Conversation with Marcus Westbury (Renew Newcastle, Renew Australia etc.)
Marcus Westbury started Renew Newcastle, which was one of the (many) starting points for Brickstarter – you can read more about it here, and here, and here, and here, and here. We won’t go into it in detail here, save to say that it is an inspiring example of light-touch social infrastructure and governance, with purpose. [...] Read more – ‘Conversation with Marcus Westbury (Renew Newcastle, Renew Australia etc.)’.
Building with more than money
Last time we looked at the +Pool to begin dissecting what exactly crowdfunding is actually paying for when we see capital projects appearing on Kickstarter. In that case, the funding was directed at a feasibility study and mockup, but Spacehive is a site dedicated to crowdfunding capital investments—community centers, gardens, bits of infrastructure, etc. As they [...] Read more – ‘Building with more than money’.
Pools are Expensive (thoughts about the long tail and crowdfunding)
As the interest in crowdfunding for local projects continues to grow, we’re digging into the nitty gritty of what this actually implies. What is really being funded and what’s the extent of the community participating? The reality of a capital project such as a building or bit of infrastructure is that it’s not going to [...] Read more – ‘Pools are Expensive (thoughts about the long tail and crowdfunding)’.
Dark matter
Physicist Fritz Zwicky coined the term “missing mass” for what we would now describe as dark matter. The answer to unlocking a new experience, product or service is sometimes buried deep within organisational culture, regulatory or policy environment. The Brickstarter project is predicated on explicitly recognising that this ‘dark matter’ is part of the design challenge. [...] Read more – ‘Dark matter’.
Field trip: Högsåra, Finland
If you look very very closely at the photo above, you’ll see a string of windmills on the horizon, set against the perfect blue sky. This is Högsåra, an island that forms a small part of the archipelago that stretches from Hanko to Turku in south-western Finland. There are thousands of islands punctuating this beautiful [...] Read more – ‘Field trip: Högsåra, Finland’.
Field Trip: Hamina, Finland
Recently we traveled to Hamina to see their wind farm, and to find out how it got built. Located 1.5 hours east of Helsinki, Hamina used to have two industries: a port and the paper mill but the later closed down in 2008. Luckily for them, the mill premises found a new tenant who values cheap energy and [...] Read more – ‘Field Trip: Hamina, Finland’.
Trust vs. Assurance
Toshio Yamagishi‘s book titled The Structure of Trust: An Evolutionary Game of Mind and Society is promising. The premise is simple (emphasis mine): This book is written around the central message that collectivist society produces security but destroys trust. We understand intuitively that in a collectivist society… people tend to feel secure with their own kind [...] Read more – ‘Trust vs. Assurance’.
Liquid Democracy
A quick dive into Liquid Democracy. Before we begin, I’d like to note that this is a term without a Wikipedia entry—a rare thing these days. However, you can read a basic overview on CommunityWiki and the Wikipedia page on Proxy Voting is also informative. It’s an idea of technologically-supported direct democracy that seems to have arisen within [...] Read more – ‘Liquid Democracy’.
Background thinking
Welcome to Brickstarter! Here’s our evolving one-page overview of the project, but there our many precursors to this project that it builds upon. We’re talking hundreds of analogous case studies and projects, dozens of web services and apps, several books, many academic research papers, and a hearty stew of ongoing conversations. We’ll be discussing the most relevant [...] Read more – ‘Background thinking’.