Learning about digital democracy

Earlier this year, I participated – along with many other people from across the world – in the very interesting and highly interactive learning initiative The active citizen in a digital age. Finding the topic strongly relevant for increasing the quality of our lives, I searched for possibilities to learn more about how digitization changes democracies.

Participating at this event, for example, I learned more about the growth of open organizations. As I understood it, the growth of open organizations is being fueled by several exciting technologies – including social media and other platforms on which people can learn from each other. At this event, I discovered that there is a large potential to involve more people to develop and communicate ideas on all kinds of topics as well as vote for / select which ideas to test / try out. In this regard, I learned by participating at this event that Internet voting has a high approval rate among people, and that pilot tests are being done.

Reflecting on the events / learning challenges mentioned above, there are more initiatives which I find very useful. For example, I experience it as a value adding initiative that learning events are open for everyone – meaning that external people have the possibility to participate / get involved / contribute. Also, I find it helpful that social media are being put into service, for example by using hashtags such as this one. I experience that using hashtags can help people to learn from / with each other.

Thinking about other initiatives that could be beneficial for involving people more before, during and/or after a learning event – and thereby strengthen the learning experience – I came to think of these three ideas:

Idea # 1
What about making Internet access open to everyone? In several spaces, I experience it is uncomplicated for people to access the Internet. At facilities of the Zürich University of Teacher Education, for example, I experienced that to get access to the Internet, you simply enter your mobile phone number on the start page and then enter the code you receive via sms. And at train stations across Switzerland, I experienced that getting access to the Internet is even more uncomplicated. Once you connect to the relevant wi-fi network under settings / connections / wi-fi on your mobile electronic device, you are online.

Idea # 2
What about using the poll functionality on Twitter to ask event participants to vote on various topics related to the particular learning event?

Idea # 3 
During a learning event, what if the moderator facilitates / moderates one or more exercises among event participants? Here is an example of a short 2-person exercise example that the moderator could initiate when an invited expert has spoken for about 20 minutes: “Please turn to the person sitting next to you. During the next 3 minutes, please share with each other what is important to each of you in what has just been presented.” After this 3 minute chat exercise in 2-person groups, the expert continues her / his presentation.

Additional event exercises:


Zürich is becoming a more bicycle friendly city

At nextzuerich.ch  I noticed that a large number of ideas have been communicated about making Zürich a more bicycle friendly city. So as I saw this invitation to the event Nextsalon Velocity, I decided to participate to help contribute to making Zürich a more bicycle friendly city.

At the event, I found it very interesting to share ideas with other participants about what we can do to improve conditions for everyone moving from a to b in Zürich. I found it fascinating that the event was complemented by work on the internet, for example on nexzuerich.ning.com, facebook, nextzuerich.ch, and on ronorp.net.

In this blog posting, I read that to be an innovator, you have to be a relentlessly curious anthropologist and a keen-eyed ethnographer, so with a mobile electronic device, I walked / cycled / drove around the city to take photos of the areas in Zürich where I have experienced there is a strong potential for making conditions better – not least for people who use 2 wheel / 3 wheel vehicles with or without engine / battery.

Below are some more experiences / ideas / inspiration on making cities more bicycle friendly:

How to make an attractive city

Watching the video embedded below, I learned that there are 6 fundamental things a city needs to get right.

# 1: Order and variety
An example: Every house in a neighbourhood has the same width and height. In addition, every house has been allowed freedom regarding form and colour.

# 2: Visible life
People like when they can see things going on where they work / live.

# 3: Compact
An example: A square should not be too small – and should be no larger than 30 metres in diameter.

# 4: Orientation and mystery
We need a good balance between a) big streets / boulevards that offer orientation and b) small streets / lanes that offer mystery. People love cities that have lots of backstreets and small lanes where you can feel cosy.

# 5: Scale
A suggestion is made that buildings should be maximum 5 stories tall. Above that, people start to feel small and insignificant. When, occasionally, there’s a big building, make it a building that’s really special and loved by everyone.

# 6: Make it local
An example could be the use of local materials for building infrastructure. It could also be something else that makes something uniquely local. When you think of beautiful local place, what comes into your mind?