Will we be smart enough soon enough - putting civic intelligence into practice.key
Will We Be Smart EnoughSoon Enough?Putting Civic Intelligence into PracticeDouglas SchulerPublic Sphere Project / SeattleThe Evergreen State College / Olympiadouglas@publicsphereproject.orgResearch for Action:Networking University and Community for Social ResponsibilityA workshop in conjunction with Making Links 2010Monday, 15 Nov 2010, Perth, Western Australia
What kind of world are we living in? One that needs our help.• Our global problems are vast and potentially catastrophic.• Our local ones aren’t exactly trivial.• The people in power won’t solve these problems by themselves• Nor will the free market or other approaches that rely on “side-effects” do it all.
Problems seem to be growing a lot faster than solutions.We might not be smart enough soon enough
I needed a concept to help me (and others) answer the question (It didn’t have to be new but it did have to be useful)
I wanted to identify a concept that• recognized actually existing phenomena• asserted social goals — at least indirectly; promoted and integrated theory and practice• incorporated and acknowledged social norms• could be used a common frame for motivating and coordinating (consciously and unconsciously) a large number of projects
The concept Icame up with wascivic intelligence
Some Deﬁnitions Informally, civic intelligence refers to how smart collectivities are in relation to their problems. Civic intelligence is a form of collective intelligence that focuses on shared problems. It addresses civic ends through civic means.Although we know that civic intelligence exists, this fact is not explicitly acknowledged and hence not something that we can readily examine or improve.
Some AssertionsToday more than ever, civic intelligence is needed to addressthe problems we now face.Civic intelligence is distributed throughout society — not justamong those with money and powerAlthough we know that civic intelligence exists, the capacitythat exists may not be adequate for our pressing needs.Civic intelligence — its understanding and development —could serve as a paradigm for activists and researchers.Civic intelligence is necessary — but not sufﬁcient.
Civic Intelligence is not a Brand New Topic Social Intelligence, Community Inquiry (John Dewey) Social Learning (many authors) Civic Community (Jane Addams) Civic Capacity (Harry Boyte, Xavier Briggs) Public Work Politics (Center for Democracy & Citizenship) Civic Innovation (Carmen Sirianni & Lew Friedman) Open Source Intelligence (Robert Steele) World Brain (H.G. Wells) Civilizational Competence (Piotr Sztompka) + Social Enterprise / Entrepreneurism / Innovation, etc.
Sustainable PrisonsThe Sustainable Prisons Project is a partnership of the Washington State Department of Corrections and TheEvergreen State College. Our mission is to reduce the environmental, economic and human costs of prisons bytraining offenders and correctional staff in sustainable practices. Equally important, we bring science into prisons byhelping scientists conduct ecological research and conserve biodiversity through projects with offenders, collegestudents and community partners.
Bee Hive Collectivefocusing on their “True Costof Coal” project
Interviewing: 1 year (my estimate)Mural design: 6 monthsMural drawing: 1 1/2 years
Beehive Collective Some Observations• They pollinate! They travel around working with activists, students, “ordinary people”• They combine popular education, art, social action, social analysis and critique — and, even, folklore.• They lead by example and help empower people• They demonstrate that other paradigms are possible. They are “traditional” and “slow” and their work is handmade and anonymous and collective.• They don’t use human ﬁgures in their work...
The purpose ofthe LiberatingVoices project isto promote andassist citizenengagementthrough thoughtand action.The patterns are intended tohelp build civic capacity andsocial imagination.
Our Vision Everybody is an Activist• The people in power won’t solve these problems by themselves. (Nor will the free market or other approaches that rely on “side-effects” do it all. )• The activists we need to do this work come in many varieties and there are a million ways for people to make positive contributions.• We need more people to support — and to lead — efforts to address our shared problems. (Note that this includes “ordinary people”)• Keeping “ordinary” people out is not only unfair, it deprives the rest of us of a vast, largely untapped resource• Unfortunately civil society is unorganized and spread out (although willing to help)
Patterns are not recipesPatterns don’t provide precise instructions...Patterns are more like seeds that have different resultswhen planted in different soil.Different people, in different situations, will use the patternsdifferently. They are really tools for thought.The use of a pattern is intended to change the ﬂow ofwhat would have happened in its absence.
Each pattern is intended to promote positive social intervention from a grassroots perspective. Each pattern contains ﬁve main parts: title, problem, context, discussion, and solution. A pattern language is an ordered collection of patterns. (The concepts are from Christopher Alexander et al, A Pattern Language, 1977)http://www.publicsphereproject.org/patterns/
Pattern GamesOnline (Facebook) game currently in work:What type of activist are you? Presents three patterns that bestmatch your interests and personality.
Pattern Language Projects Using Patterns to Orient Projects from Conception to Implementation• Many possibilities have been discussed including sustainable design, ICT for development, and urban architecture• This is an important — and logical — next step• It’s (partially) uncharted territory• Begin constructing an evolving pattern language in your domain• Use / modify / improve the methodology in the book• Keep us in the loop!
Science 29 October 2010:Vol. 330. no. 6004, pp. 686 - 688DOI: 10.1126/science.1193147REPORTSEvidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance ofHuman GroupsAnita Williams Woolley,1,* Christopher F. Chabris,2,3 Alex Pentland,3,4 Nada Hashmi,3,5 Thomas W.Malone3,5Psychologists have repeatedly shown that a single statistical factor—often called "generalintelligence"—emerges from the correlations among people’s performance on a wide variety ofcognitive tasks. But no one has systematically examined whether a similar kind of "collectiveintelligence" exists for groups of people. In two studies with 699 people, working in groups of two toﬁve, we ﬁnd converging evidence of a general collective intelligence factor that explains a group’sperformance on a wide variety of tasks. This "c factor" is not strongly correlated with the average ormaximum individual intelligence of group members but is correlated with the average socialsensitivity of group members, the equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and theproportion of females in the group.
Some aspects of civic intelligence Presumably useful for comparing, measuring? • Building civic intelligence in others; knowledge, motivation, imagination, and appreciation of potential power • Inclusive and participatory; diffuses into society — extends civic intelligence as an orientation. • Cross-disciplinary approaches are central; for one thing they dont just solve a portion of the problem or, even, make matters worse in other areas. • Efﬁciency and creativity (developing novel solutions) are key (as with individual intelligence) • Meta-cognition and better collaboration (and better / faster information on whats working) and forecasting. (Meta-cognition implies and requires evaluation) • Addresses several problems at once • Addresses fundamental problems (usually environmental degradation or social exploitation) • Better frameworks for understanding intelligence — and ignorance. Includes characterization of problems and appreciation of the unknown • Better monitoring • Mechanisms for problematizing • Make activism cool (again)
Some Common Useless ApproachesHow do we get to the moon? Build a bigger ladderWhat if were going in the wrong direction? Drive fasterWhat if our problems are too complicated? (1) ignore their existence (2) crucify people who mention them (3) take refuge in our powerlessness
building success or failure?At present our society persists in designing a great many technical artifacts in waysthat make people feel passive, superﬂuous, stupid, and incapable of initiating action.Such systems bear the cultural embryos of tomorrows citizenry. For as we inventnew technical systems, we also invent the kinds of people who will use them and beaffected by them. The structures and textures of future social and political life canbe seen in the blueprints of technologies now on the drawing board. LangdonWinner (1991)Networks of civic engagement embody past success at collaboration which canserve as a cultural template for future collaboration. Robert Putnam (2000)
People can be intelligent. They can alsobe compassionate, creative, enthusiastic,and dedicated. Perhaps societies can too.