Nina Simon, the Museum 2.0 blogger and author of Participatory Museum, posted a video of her “From Place to Presence” talk at the Nodem 2010 conference. Although she is focused on museum design, her comments might as well have been about designing for effective participation in any community venue. Her three key observations: a) scaffolding and constraints are critical to effective participation and engagement, b) the design of the prompts matters a great as well, and c) responsiveness to participants is even more important than the design of the process or the prompts.
Next American City interviews PennPraxis director Harris Steinberg about the role of community participation in Philadelphia’s riverfront development plan. He touches on the importance of understanding the politics in order to move the ball forward on the planning process and produce a plan that was likely to be implemented.
Full Circle Associates describes a cool post-it note-based coalition-mapping process to better understand their existing social networks and how those networks can either be weakened or strengthened. We’ve used and seen this type of approach in other community decision-making contexts, but the explicit network-weaving lens is a helpful twist.
GigaOm reports on Zynga’s massive (closing in on $10 billion) valuation. What is Zynga and why do we care? They’ve managed to attract a reported 45 million users to their various social games, including the breakout Farmville. Social gaming and gamification are here to stay, at least for now, and the trend seems to offer a lot of promise to the civic participation and community decision-making universe. By embedding game dynamics in an interactive process, process architects can improve the likelihood of engaging community members and keeping them engaged. Do a good job of designing the game dynamics, and you might also find ways to generate high-quality input from those very same community members. As if the press the point, TechCrunch just reported that Foursquare – the icon of geolocation-based social gaming – is on the verge of hitting the seven-million users mark. Yes, that’s seven million registered users. They saw 3,400 percent last year in check-ins. Some clever community engagement folks will figure out how to use Foursquare directly in their work (including Foursquare’s new-ish photo uploading feature), while others will create engagement strategies that riff on the basic Foursquare setup. One way or another, games – geolocation and otherwise – offer a lot of potential.
This Thursday at 2 pm mountain time I’ll be joining Jon Verville of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center on the Community Matters Open Government call. Jon and I will talk about two different versions of the same basic challenge: how human nature, inertia, and caution all figure into the challenges of persuading governments to become more open.