Untangling Complexity – Designing for Shared Understanding

The next phase of the digital revolution will be defined by products and services that facilitate shared understanding, allowing concerted participation around complex issues. In working to show the way, civic designers will need to call upon the powers of systems research, design research, social science, and open data. As the problems confronting 21st century citizens grow in complexity, citizens require not only the means to understand those problems, but also the means to exert political power over them. Activism on our part will require clear communication and shared understanding. Organizers before us may have leveraged Twitter and Facebook for civic effect, but civic designers will need to take this to the next level by creating products that enable citizens to collectively understand—and act upon—the layered, oftentimes opaque information surrounding complex issues. Creating next-gen civic applications will require designers to embody a systems-based approach to civic participation, marrying systems-based research, user-centered design, social science, and data. This article chronicles my own experience leveraging these tools to facilitate shared understand amongst my community.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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