Design Challenge Closed and Judged
Many thanks to all of you who took us up on our design challenge and entred your redesigned and newly created state-citizen touchpoints. We were very happy with the response to this - our first prototype challenge.
The entries have been judged by our expert panel and the selection will be announced by August 2nd - watch your inboxes.
Touching the State's user research raised the issue that potential voters often don't feel they have an objective source of information. By implication, many people aren't confident that they can visualize the potential real-world outcome of their votes. A bit of research on election simulation games, yielded this discussion of current US offerings.
If a games producer that was perceived as being truly objective were to create a sim game based on the various party manifesti, would more gamers be drawn into the process of trying out possible voting strategies, discussing it with their friends, and then voting in reality? And could the experience be made attractive to a wider audience?
Throughout our user research we've identified the lack of focus on the decision making component on voting. There is little information available on how you should make up your mind or an objective menu of candidates and their offers. YouMakeUpYourMind is a website in development by Martin Vowles that sets out to provide an objective overview of our political partys and what they stand for.
Obesity Across Borders
Yesterday's All-Parliamentary Group on Obesity raised some interesting debate. Although the session was cut short, limiting the scope for open discussion, three key themes emerged which may warrant further thought.
Tim Lobstein of the International Obesity Taskforce opened with an outline of the obesity issue and its causal context. He identified 3 critical measures to counter the fattening effects of market forces in increasingly wealthy societies:
1. agriculture policy reform to see budget support for sustainable and nutrient based food production aligned with dietary targets
2. reformulation of products to reduce the calorific content provided from fats and sugar
3. advertising and marketing controls
Following on, Dominic Lyle, Director-General of the European Association of Communications Agencies, was keen to stress that the impact of food advertising on health and obesity issues needs further scrutiny. Whilst ferocious advertising campaigns by junk food giants are often targeted as a major propellant in the spiralling obesity crises, figures suggest that the link between ad spend and market growth across the food sector is not as virulent as assumed - in fact, Lyle claims, there is no direct relationship. In isolation, controls on the promotion of junk food are therefore not likely to alter people's eating habits significantly, or impact on levels of obesity. This certainly raised a few eyebrows.
To finish, Dr Aila Rissanen of the Helsinki University Hospital offered a Finnish perspective on solutions to diet related illness. Looking at the success of the Finish Diabetes Prevention Study, Rissanen highlighted the importance of lifestyle approaches to these problems and confirmed the potential effectiveness of public health programs to encourage healthy lifestyles, especially weight control and increased physical activity. Based on implementation of this approach in key high risk areas, and with a focus on community interventions, the effects are now filtering on a broader scale as awareness increases and personal choices are affected.
Food for thought...
The educated blogger
The educated blogger: Using weblogs to promote literacy in the classroom by David Huffaker This paper explores the role of weblogs or "blogs" in classroom settings. Blogs, which resemble personal journals or diaries and provide an online venue where self-expression and creativity is encouraged and online communities are built, provide an excellent opportunity for educators to advance literacy through storytelling and dialogue.
Touching the State evening event write-up
On the evening of 22 July the design community came together to debate to potential of design to shape our sense of citizenship, as part of our Touching the State Design Challenge. Those charged with delivering some of the experiences by which we encounter the state, such as voting, jury service and the new citizenship ceremony, also joined the debate. Eight tables responded to eight of the Design Challenge briefs with a variety of bright ideas, thoughtful reflections and provocative discussion. A summary of the feedback from each table can be downloaded here: Touching the State evening event write-up
Open Welfare: designs on the public good
Hilary Cottam and Charles Leadbeater have co-authored a summary paper in the lead up to a Red pilot project in health later this year. The paper provides an overview of how an Open approach may be applied where traditional models of public service delivery are proving to be increasingly limited. The potential being for utilising broader social creativity to develop low cost, innovative and personalised services with a focus on self-management. The pilot project is due to commence in the Autumn and the Red unit welcomes any interest or comment. Download file
House to Home: Bringing Parliament and people together
House to Home is a free, public, interactive exhibition in Westminster Hall. It is open from Monday 12th July to Friday 20th August. Visitors will be inspired by the principle of democracy, educated as to how our parliament system works, and asked to consider how their deeper involvement could further enrich and rejuvenate our democratic society.
The exhibition site will be launched on the 12th July.
Design for Democracy
Design for Democracy, a non-profit corporation, applies all the tools of design to make voting more efficient, more accessible, more practical and more gratifying.
What might happen when technology goes further into the realm of voting?
The Accelerated Democracy project is a series of four scenarios rooted in trends in American voting that are already happening and look likely to continue into the future.
Designs on Democracy - reinventing the town hall
The Designs on Democracy competition forms part of a wider project exploring the role that design can play in deepening democracy and promoting citizen involvement in decision making.
Visible Politics - Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology
The Visible Politics workshop investigated problems associated with voting in the United States. The goal was to prototype solutions that inspire participation, educate, and foster community by focusing on issues as opposed to candidates or parties.
The Vote Project - University of Minnesota Design Institute
The Vote Project is devoted to documenting and supporting election design efforts around the country through publishing, research and educational conferences.
RSA Design Directions 2003-04
This project asked design students to look at ways of improving and enlivening both the electoral process and voter access as a way of improving participation.