The connected Citizen

Wed, 2007-02-28 00:48.

Quote from the Complexity and Social Networks Blog at Harvard, written by Alexander Schellong

The internet made us more powerful as well as making us more transparent. We have access to information anytime, anyplace. We can find, motivate or join like minded people to create something or influence a third party. We also leave our trails on blogs, social networking platforms, newsgroups or buying online. Governments and citizens alike can benefit from this trend.

Hierarchical government structures are the dominant model for public service delivery and meeting public policies. Although desired outcomes are mostly realized, this set-up turns out to have various downsides. Results are a silo like, inward-looking culture, slow decision making, change awareness or knowledge diffusion. While the latter also led to an institutionalized disconnect from citizens it can cause system failures when information and decision making transcends organizational and jurisdictional boundaries. Hurricane Katrina, the Avian Flu, various non-prevented terrorist attacks are such representative cases.

In addition, public administration has become continuously more complex. Economic, social, political and technological developments in the past decades have lead to a growth of the administrative apparatus, its size, power and obligations. Market-based reforms have optimized agency operations and privatized public services through contracting-out (i.e. Public Private Partnerships) or completely conferring them to the private sector. Hence, public managers and policy makers have to work within a sphere of multiple stakeholders and understand interdependent relationships for service provision, regulation and policy making. Knowing whom to hold accountable and a general understanding of this complex system is important for legislators as well as for citizen.

What can governments do?

1. Access
2. Dialogue
3. Transparency
4. Internal change

continue

Paris plans DSL for free

Fri, 2006-01-06 22:55.
This announcement could potentially have a huge impact on various levels within the community of Paris and the example further proofs, that fast internet access will be more and more publicly commoditized as competitive advantage among international urban regions.

The Location of Innovation

Mon, 2006-01-02 20:12.

Further extending the discussion around the role of cities in the global competitive economy there are two influential positions taken by Thomas L. Friedman and Richard Florida. Friedman proposes in his latest Book "The World is Flat" that due to the egalitarian and open nature of the Internet, modern communications and travel, innovation need not be concentrated in historic urban centers.  Richard Florida, avid promotor of the "Creative Class" concept, on the other hand suggests in his article "The World is Spiky" (PDF) that these same forces actually increase the gravitation toward acknowledged centers of innovation.

As always, John Hagels take on that discussion is very much on the spot:

The greatest insight will come from understanding the paradox that the flattening of the world is creating opportunities for even greater spikiness.

Creativity, Design and Business Performance

Mon, 2006-01-02 20:10.

Richard Florida, Charles Landry and Jane Jacobs would probably like to hear that the concept of creativity as a driving force of innovation and urban development is finally taking off.

Especially in the UK the idea is gaining ground with the release of two studies, that underpin the importance of creativity and design innovation as a competitive advantage and critical success factor especially for small and medium enterprises.

1. Cox Review of Creativity in Business: Study by the Chairman of the British Design Council

2. DTI Economics paper: Creativity, Design and Business Performance (PDF)

3. Creative London: The strategic agency for London's creative industries.

The World City Network

Mon, 2006-01-02 20:07.

"The rise of transnational interactions has produced a new economic globalization in which cities and their regions are the prime nodes"

This is quintessentially summarizing the subject of a study, that is focussing on the economical impact of global connectivity for regions and cities:

"As cities aim to position themselves better economically, they must remember that they operate in a global marketplace. Cities able to grow and attract globally-connected, high-value service firms can access, and benefit from, a worldwide array of customers, workers, and contracted services, ultimately boosting quality growth at home."

 
Link
Download PDF (944kb)

"people are a resource, not a cost"

Wed, 2005-11-16 22:09.
In memoriam of Peter Drucker

The UNESCO Global Alliance's Creative Cities Network

Wed, 2005-11-16 11:20.

The new economy is quickly taking shape, giving rise to mass production and consumption of unique experiences, and cities that can effectively harness human creativity are at the heart of this evolution. Cities play an integral role in the transition toward a new economy because they harbor clusters that are essentially hubs of creativity with the potential to shape global demand for a city’s local offering.

By providing a global platform for a city’s local cultural assets, the Creative Cities Network is facilitating access to know-how, information and experiences to all member cities as a means to promote the development of local cultural industries and to foster member cities’ worldwide recognition.

Why Cities?
Cities are increasingly playing a vital role in harnessing creativity for economic and social development:

• Cities harbor the entire range of cultural actors throughout the creative industry chain, from the creative act to production and distribution.
• As breeding grounds for creative clusters, cities have great potential to harness creativity, and connecting cities can mobilize this potential for global impact.
• Cities are small enough to affect local cultural industries but also large enough to serve as gateways to international markets.

Creative cities have managed to nurture a remarkably dynamic relationship between cultural actors and creativity, generating conditions where a city’s “creative buzz” attracts more cultural actors, which in turn adds to a city’s creative buzz. This virtuous cycle of clustering and creativity that is shaping the foundation of creative cities is also perpetuating the evolution of the “new economy.”

The new economy is making it possible for creative clusters that are equipped with local content to interact on a global level, evoking a competitive environment that further generates creativity. Harnessing this creative energy of cities in a way that allows local cultural actors to benefit from global interaction embodies great potential for the development of local cultural industries
Link

On a sidenote we are pleased to see that Berlin has just been promoted as "City of Design"
Link

Topics from the UNESCO Creative Cities Workshop, 13 September

Wed, 2005-11-16 11:11.
Creative cities – catalysts for nurturing talent and creative enterprise
  • Barriers and opportunities in developing creative cities.
  • Role of public policy in shaping creative cities.
  • Ensuring exposure and training for upcoming artists.
  • Establishing public creative spaces – impact on local communities.
  • Integrating indigenous knowledge systems in the age of information technology.
Cultural industries - vehicle for local economic and social development
  • Practical support for micro-businesses.
  • Engaging city officials in cultural industry development.
  • Measuring economic impact – tools for fundraising and policy.
  • Pooling cultural resources.
  • Promoting “Creative Tourism” – interactive cultural tourism.
Creating a common vision – mobilizing multi-sector cultural stakeholders
  • Finding and engaging sustainable leadership base.
  • The press – advancing the city's vision and objectives.
  • Integrating city's evolving vision in city initiatives.
  • Communicating the local vision on a global level.
Connecting city's efforts to needs on-the-ground
  • Communicating city priorities to needs on-the-ground and vice versa.
  • Overcoming internal fragmentation among cultural actors across all sectors.
  • Realizing synergies - stimulating cross-sector partnerships.
  • Translating local collaboration on a global platform.

Mapping community memory - the case of District Six, Cape Town

Tue, 2005-11-15 18:57.

One great example for object-centered sociality is the case of District Six. This was once a vibrant neighborhood in Cape Town and a living model of how people from different cultures can coexist, until the Apartheid regime ended their community life with its Group Areas Act. Between 1966 and 1982 more than 60.000 people have been removed to the suburban townships and the district was flattened by bulldozers.

The former citizens of District Six have lost their houses, but they haven´t lost their memories. To give these memories a new home, the new government under Nelson Mandela established a District Six museum in 1994 located near the old neighborhoods.

Visiting the museum, I was absolutely impressed, how creatively the people were keeping their memories alive by continuously enriching the documentary objects of their own history in the most vivid and unusual ways. As one example, there is a complete map of the old district drawn on the floor, where former residents can write down the names of their families on the drawings of their houses.

To quote Terence Fredericks, the Chairman of the District Six Museum Foundation:

Working with memory involves ensuring that people’s stories are kept alive, but it is more than this. We take great care in how people’s stories are told, recorded and displayed so that the process assists in healing. The museum also has a very practical focus. By documenting history it is possible for those in the present to trace family and community histories. It is also possible for claims of restitution to be made.
By using the memory and the history of families of District Six we hoped to inspire communities elsewhere in the country, and this is now occurring. By piecing together the stories of all the different communities who were dispersed, the social, economic and political history of this country will gradually become more available to us all. District Six has become a symbol all of that was wrong about forced removals, but also a symbol of the beauty of reclaiming history.

 

District Six - Cape Town
Interview with Terence Fredericks, the Chairman of the District Six Museum Foundation

The overlooked evidence of shrinking cities

Wed, 2005-11-02 11:42.

6.1 billion people currently live on the earth, 3 billion of them in cities. By 2030, the population of the world will have increased by 2 billion (+33%). This increase will be stem almost exclusively from the growth in urban population. Every day, 190,000 new city-dwellers are added all over the world, 2 in every second. In the year 2030, 4.9 billion people will live in cities.

But not all cities are taking part in this competition. Whether in Germany or the USA, in Russia or China, in South Africa or Iran, everywhere there are also shrinking cities that the constant media focus on boomtowns and megacities all too easily overlooks.

Cities are shrinking all over the world! Shrinking cities are a cultural challenge to us. In the Shrinking Cities project, architects, academics and artists investigate recent developments in Detroit, Ivanovo, Manchester / Liverpool and Halle / Leipzig - and make suggestions.

 
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