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.


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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 urban fabric and the decision-making cultures of communities and municipalities.

As a probe, it’s a sketch of a possible municipal service, designed to generate discussions with institutions—to ask the right questions about how we decide what to do and what to forgo. It is a prop used in conversation with civil servants, politicians and community groups to make the issues tangible and specific.

Every pixel of Brickstarter’s prototype is there to ask a question: do we have the right cultures of decision-making in place for 21st century cities?

Contemporary cities find themsevlves in the awkward position of no longer holding a monopoly. Social media and other forms of networked communication are showing us that a city’s websites have some unexpected competition. Facebook, Google, and other familiar and highly tuned services have pushed digital literacy up, creating a high standard that municipalities are not exempt from. Ignore this reality, and be ignored.

How could we absorb the dynamics of social media into new “social services”? Would more engaging services foster a progressive society, one that switches polarity from NIMBY to YIMBY—Yes In My Back Yard?

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