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Trust Me - Freakonomics Freakonomics
"Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social trust has been falling for decades — in part because our populations are more diverse. What can we do to fix it?"

"HALPERN: We almost seem to hardly notice that it’s there. So it’s incredibly consequential and we see it in lots of areas of policy that we touch on.

DUBNER: So you write this about low trust: “Low trust implies a society where you have to keep an eye over your shoulder, where deals need lawyers instead of handshakes, where you don’t see the point of paying your tax or recycling your rubbish since you doubt your neighbor will do so, and where employ your cousin or your brother-in-law to work for you rather than a stranger who’d probably be much better at the job.” So that has all kinds of business and ultimately economic implications. However, when you talk about high trust being good for us on a personal level, whether it’s health or individual income, do the two necessarily go in hand? In other words, can we have a society that has a business climate where there isn’t a lot of trust and, therefore, you do need all those lawyers instead of the handshakes, but where you have good social trust among neighbors, family and friends, communities and so on, or are they really the same thing that you’re talking about?

HALPERN: Well, there is a key distinction and Bob Putnam has often made this too, between what’s sometimes called bonding social capital and bridging social capital.

PUTNAM: Social capital is about social networks. But not all social networks are identical, and one important distinction is between ties that link us to other people like us, that’s called bonding social capital.

HALPERN: Bonding social capital often refers to your closeness to your friends, your relatives, those that are immediately around you. It’s particularly important, it turns out for, things such as health outcomes.

PUTNAM: Because, empirically, if you get sick, the people who are likely to bring you chicken soup are likely to represent your bonding social capital."

"PUTNAM: What strategies I would want to emphasize for moving in a positive direction would be more contexts in which people connect with one another across lines of race or economics or gender or age."

"HALPERN: People that go to university end up trusting much more than those who don’t, particularly when they go away residentially. It doesn’t look like it’s explained by income alone. So there’s something about the experience of going off as a young person in an environment where you have lots of other young people from different backgrounds and so on, hopefully, and different ethnicities. You learn the habits of trust because you’re in an environment where you can trust other people; they are trustworthy. And you internalize these habits and you take them with you the rest of your life. So we tend to not think of going away to university as being the reason why you’re doing it is to build social capital and social trust, we think about learning skills and so on, but it may well be that it has as much, or even more value, in terms of culturing social trust going forward. The question is: do you have to do that in university, can you do it another way? So in the U.K., following partly an American lead, the government has championed a national citizen service. And what this means is for every young person, essentially a 17-year-old, increasingly, starts off with a — not everyone does it alone, but more and more every single year, goes and does voluntary experience, community service. This deliberately includes a couple of weeks which are residential and deliberately includes mixing with people from all different walks of life. Look, it’s only limited data, but in terms of before-and-after data, we see significant impacts in terms of higher levels of trust between groups and individuals, as well as instantly higher levels of life satisfaction and well-being too. So it looks like we can do something about it."

"HALPERN: In the most recent data, it looks like it’s one of the biggest risers. So the Netherlands had pretty similar levels of social trust in the 1980s to America and the U.K., but whereas we have now drifted down towards sort of 30-odd percent, they are now up close to 70 percent in levels of those who think others can be trusted.

DUBNER: What would you say it’s caused by?

HALPERN: Well, I mean, one of the characteristics of the Netherlands, and you have to be a bit careful when you pick off one country, is it has wrestled quite hard with the issues of, not just inequality, but social differences. They’ve really tried to do a lot in relation to making people essentially build cohesion. Particularly Amsterdam, is a very famous area for — it’s long been an extremely multicultural city. It’s had issues over that over time, but they’ve really in a sort of succession of governments have tried to quite actively make groups get along with each other in quite an active way. So that may itself, of course, root in the Netherlands, it’s quite a deep culture of a strong sense of the law, being trustworthy and that contracts will be honored and so on. It’s what helped to power its economic success in previous centuries, so it does have that tradition also to draw on."

"PUTNAM: I looked hard to find explanations and television, I argued, is really bad for social connectivity for many reasons.

“More television watching,” Putnam wrote, “means less of virtually every form of civic participation and social involvement.”

HALPERN: As Bob sometimes put it, I think, rather elegantly, when we were looking forward in terms of technology or the Internet and of course, even pre-Facebook and so on, would it be, in his words, a “fancy television”? In other words, it will isolate us more and more. Or would it be a “fancy telephone” and would connect us more and more? Because technology has both those capabilities. So when I played video games when I was a kid, you basically did them mostly by yourself or with a friend. When I look at my teenage kids playing videos, they’re actually talking to each other all the time. To some extent it looks like, to me, that we get the technology that we want, and even this is true at sort of a societal level. So one of the arguments you can make, in my view is true anyway, by explaining some of these differences in the trajectories across countries is in Anglo-Saxon countries, we’ve often used our wealth to buy technology and other experiences. That means we don’t have to deal with other people — the inconveniences of having to go to a concert where I have to listen to music I really like, I can just stay at home and just watch what I want and so on and choose it. And even in the level of, if I think about my kids versus me growing up, I mean when I was growing up we had one TV and there were five kids in the household. You know, had to really negotiate pretty hard about what we were going to watch. My kids don’t have to do that and probably not yours either. There are more screens in the house than there are people. They can all go off and do their own thing. To some extent, that is us using our wealth to escape from having to negotiate with other people, but that isn’t necessarily the case. Some people and some countries seem to use their wealth more to find ways of connecting more with other people. And the technology has both these capabilities and we can’t just blame it. It’s the choices we’re making and how we use it and the technology which we’re, kind of, asking and bringing forth.

DUBNER: It reminds me a bit of — we once looked into the global decline of hitchhiking, for instance. One of the central reasons being that people no longer trusted strangers to not kill each other, really, is what it boiled down to, even though there was apparently very little killing involved, but just the fear of one. And yet now, Uber is a 60-some billion-dollar company that’s basically all about using technology to lure a complete stranger into your car. Which, I guess, argues, if nothing else, the fact that technology can be harnessed very much in either direction.

HALPERN: That’s right. Indeed, so, as you say, there’s actually two points here, and there’s a really important behavioral one, which I think we’ve only figured out in recent years to bring together these different literatures, how does it relate to behavioral scientists versus those people studying social capital? We look like we have certain systematic biases about how we estimate whether we think other people can be trusted. And in essence, we overestimate quite systematically the prevalence of bad behavior. We overestimate the number of people who are cheating on their taxes or take a sickie off work or do other kinds of bad things. This doesn’t seem to be just the media, although that may reinforce it. It seems to be a bit how we’re wired as human beings. So why is that relevant and why does this have to do with technology? Actually, technology can help you solve some of those issues. So when you’re buying something on eBay or you’re trying to decide where to go using, you know Trip Advisor, you’re actually getting some much better information from the experiences of other people as opposed to your guesstimate, which is often systematically biased. So it turns out it’s a way we can sometimes use technology to solve some of these trust issues. Not just in relation to specific products and “Should I buy this thing from this person?” but, potentially, more generally in relation to how do we trust other people because, ultimately, this social trust question must rest on something. It must be a measure of actual trustworthiness. "
trust  diversity  socialtrust  2016  us  society  socialunity  via:davidtedu  trustworthiness  socialcapital  australia  uk  netherlands  davidhalpern  stephendubner  bobputnam  italy  corruption  socialnetworks  civics  government  governance  community  brazil  brasil  norway  edglaeser  tobymoscowitz  hunterwendelstedt  ethnicity  stockholm  education  colleges  universities  military  athletics  multiculturalism  culture  law  economics  behavior  technology  videogames  socialmedia  television  tv  toolsforconviviality  hitchhiking 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Playable cities
"In Bristol, the recent conference “Making the City Playable” reveals that being smart isn’t the only attribute to which cities should aspire: publicly playful activities can create a happier, more cohesive and even more effective urban future."

"How do you empower people to transform their cities? It is a question that Usman Haque grapples with at Umbrellium on a daily basis. Trained as an architect, Haque’s interest in the psychology of public space led him to a career building creative response environments, interactive installations, and mass participation initiatives designed to foster a sense of collective creative ownership. With creations such as Burble (in which the public collectively constructs a massive inflatable structure made of balloons containing sensor-controlled LEDs that send crowd-responsive patterns of light rippling through the structure) or Assemblance (which recently filled the Barbican, London’s renowned performing arts center, with an immersive environment of three-dimensional interactive light-structures that encourage people to work together to sculpt and manipulate their form), Haque uses creative technology to explore the decision making frameworks that foster collaboration. “It is not inevitable that technology isolates us,” he argues; instead, he sees it as a call to action to explore its ability to connect us. “What I’d like to see more of is the feeling of belonging and ‘this is ours and we can do great things with it’” he concludes: “I’d like to see more of that sense of ownership, and anything that supports and reinforces that.”"

"As the recent Making the City Playable Conference highlighted, many things must work together to support and reinforce that sense of ownership and engagement. “Real regeneration is about people not buildings; activity not big investment,” affirms Bristol’s mayor—and former architect—George Ferguson. A champion of good urbanism, Ferguson has had a pivotal role in some of Bristol’s largest urban transformation projects and is a strong advocate of the Playable City movement. His support has not only enabled many of the city’s recent playful interventions—from Park and Slide, to a city wide zombie chase game, streets temporarily closed for children’s play, and the Playable City Award’s Hello Lamppost and Shadowing—it has also highlighted the benefits that can be achieved by (and often necessity of) working with local authorities. Nevertheless it is worth noting that playful interventions can come in all sizes and degrees.

To wit, while Bristol has built its reputation as a city willing to try things and be unorthodox, it has not always done so by being the class clown. As both Playable City Award projects show, serendipity and the unexpected are equally as valid as the overt gesture. “At first you have the initial excitement reaction where you have people doing crazy things and having their friends come visit and take videos,” explains Matthew Rosier of Shadowing, the shadow-capturing streetlight he and partner Jonathan Chomko recently unveiled in eight locations throughout Bristol, “but we’re more excited to see how it’s working in a few weeks time, when it has become part of peoples’ routines and we can see how they experience it in their daily lives.” It’s about more than cheeky people doing funny things in the streets.

The Playable City will face some inevitable growing pains. One of its major challenges—as a movement not primarily about economic impact or mass behavior change—is providing quantifiable metrics. Bristol’s relatively small size and progressive city governance present a very unique breeding ground that is not easily replicated. Furthermore the concept of play is not a constant across cultures. Nevertheless, Watershed is determined to drive a global playable city network comprised of 10-20 cities around the world that want to steward the movement. “We’d really like to fund a much more significant global playable city award where we would be able to award another city with funds to pioneer something that we can learn from, be inspired by, and share,” Watershed’s Reddington says. With Hello Lamppost set to travel to Austin, USA, it seems the Playable City movement is gaining ground. Between you, me and the lamppost, I’d join their team."
play  cities  urban  urbanism  kimberliebirks  2014  playablecities  hellolampost  playablecity  clarereddington  umbrellium  usmanhaque  thewatershed  tomuglow  smartcities  bogotá  stockholm  publicspace  burble  ownership  technology  isolation  connection  social  engagement  shadowing  parkandslide  georgeferguson  matthewrosier  jonathanchomko 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Europe Stifles Drivers in Favor of Mass Transit and Walking -
"While American cities are synchronizing green lights to improve traffic flow and offering apps to help drivers find parking, many European cities are doing the opposite: creating environments openly hostile to cars. The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable enough to tilt drivers toward more environmentally friendly modes of transportation."

"“In the United States, there has been much more of a tendency to adapt cities to accommodate driving,” said Peder Jensen, head of the Energy and Transport Group at the European Environment Agency. “Here there has been more movement to make cities more livable for people, to get cities relatively free of cars.”"
us  europe  cities  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  mobility  cars  walking  publictransit  pedestrians  livability  carfree  carfreecity  2011  london  stockholm  zurich  vienna  sanfrancisco  traffic  priorities  nyc  bikes  biking  sustainability  health  parking 
june 2011 by robertogreco
tor palm: south africa project
"as part of their final project from the carl malmsten furniture studies in stockholm, sweden tor and mattias of tor palm, wanted to utilize their woodworking skills and collaborate with
sweden  torpalm  stockholm  southafrica  design  furniture  wood  lighting  craftsmanship 
august 2010 by robertogreco
Hyper Island
"Hyper Island started in 1995 when Jonathan Briggs, David Erixon and Lars Lundh met during a project involving a CD-rom production. They soon realized the increasing need of a different kind of education involving industry based learning, for the growing new media industry. The first long term program at Hyper Island started in Karlskrona 1996 with 32 students.
sweden  stockholm  schools  technology  graphics  advertising  agency  education  portfolio  webdesign  media  interaction  art  design  lcproject  tcsnmy  training  iphone  applications  development  ios  webdev 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Portland and “elite cities”: The new model | The Economist
"That is not to belittle Portland’s vision. It is a sophisticated and forward-looking place. Which other city can boast that its main attraction is a bustling independent book store (Powell’s) and that medical students can go from one part of their campus to another by gondola, taking their bikes with them? Other cities will see much to emulate. Minneapolis, for example, this month displaced Portland as Bicycling magazine’s most bike-friendly city (“they got extra points for biking in the snow,” grumble Mr Adams’s staff). Adam Davis of Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall, a Portland polling firm, says that Oregonians like to consider themselves leaders but also exceptions. They are likely to remain both."
portland  oregon  cities  us  northamerica  helsinki  amsterdam  stockholm  vancouver  bikes  biking  transportation  publictransit 
april 2010 by robertogreco
Startsida Kulturhuset
"The three rooms are especially designed for children of different ages, with different physical needs and abilities. Here kids will find hideaways, hammocks where they can lie and read peacefully, exciting things to look at."
lcproject  community  learning  art  libraries  studios  workshops  sweden  scandinavia  social  stockholm  music  design  culture  children  activities  travel 
may 2008 by robertogreco
kulturhuset on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
see also: "Opened in 1974, (Swedish for The House of Culture) is cultural centre to south of Sergels Torg in central Stockholm; both loved & hated as symbol for Stockholm & growth of modernism in Sweden"
lcproject  education  learning  studios  community  scandinavia  sweden  art  libraries  workshops  social  stockholm  music  design  culture  children  activities  travel  youth  teens 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Wooster Collective: Urban Recreation from Akay and Peter
"The work that these two guys do on the street is extremely rare, in the sense that it truly goes beyond spray cans and wheatpastes to be actual architectural structures and installations."
books  streetart  street  urban  installation  architecture  space  design  art  urbanism  recreation  sweden  stockholm 
january 2007 by robertogreco

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