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917 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Yaneer 917 days ago
  • COMMON GROUND COMMUNITY HOUSING (New York) - Willow please contact them in my name.
755 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Yaneer 755 days ago
  • Publication of scientific works (making it really open)
  • Notes (brain dump, perhaps for separate document)
  • Following discussion on Oct 28 (about open publication and Interjournal) one should ask: What is the reason that the open internet has not given rise to open academia? The answer is that academia is a collaborative/competitive system, i.e. an evolutionary one. If it were just a collaborative system there would be an immediate solution in the form of an open access. The problem is that there is need for gatekeeping because of the role of peer review in career advancement, i.e. credits that advance reputation which is a necessary aspect of position, funding, publication (competitive process). 
  • Steps to advance science must recognize that science is not just an abstraction of knowledge but it is also a social phenomenon. This means that the process of scientific advancement is both linked to individual social dyanamics, as well as collective social dynamics, i.e. the development of the community structure (individuals as part of topical domains, areas of expertise, educational programs) and organizations/institutions that are essential to the (mostly unknown) future progress of science, as much as they are to the current or immediate advances. This suggests that in order to develop effective scientific communication we need elementary mechanisms of evaluation and recognition as much as we need elementary mechanisms of sharing of information. The current social mechanism that gives rise to evaluation and recognition is the peer review process. It is widely understood to be problematic. It fosters an environment of zero-sum game / conflict of interestes competition that motivates "unethical" behaviors and those who advance are those who are able to successfully navigate this landscape (i.e. combinations of scientific prowess and unethical behavior [think about this next time you meet a highly recognized scientist, ouch]), and is known to inhibit innovation (this follows from the analysis). This also gives rise to large scale failed (from the point of view of advancing scientific knowledge) dynamics of collective behavior (one example is theory of high-Tc superconductivity, i.e. when the subject of inquiry is important enough to individual recognition the community shuts down the process of recognition in order to prevent individuals from gaining the recognition that many other people want). 
  • The mechanism of the peer review system is that there is a gatekeeper system that has its own social structure, i.e. editors and funding program officers. They serve as the coordinators of the peer review process. Their requests for additional effort (nominally uncompensated both financially and in the recognition system) by participants in the process are being agreed to because of the power it gives to the reviewers to influence the process itself, i.e. the implicit gain of their participation (there is an altruistic component, particularly among some of the young scientists, which is just enough to mask the more prevaling reason) as well as "points" they gain from their interactions with editors that promote the editors bias toward the helpful referees (editorial bias becomes part of the mechanism o peer review system in all contexts, editors become part of a political process).One of the examples is the use of reviews to get ones own work cited, but more generally it includes placing additional burden on other researchers so that their work is delayed in publication and they are unable to do other important work, restricting others to doing less important or innovative work in the process of zero sum game competition, promoting the work of associates and collaborators, friends, other types of affiliated in-group members, and, where relevant, family members. There are rules that are designed to prevent such "cheating" but any time there are such rules it just points to the existence of ways around the rules which are widely exploited by those who are engaged in active planning of how they will succeed. 
  • The reduction in the financial and technical barriers to publication has changed the ballance of how this process works in recent years. This has affected the power of refereeing and the nature of the zero sum game. It has not clear whether a critical transition has occurred to a different pattern of behavior altogether.  
  • There is some variation from field to field about the appilcation of this mechanism. For example, economic papers are often published in working paper format, physics papers are published on the arxiv, both before peer review. 
  • However, it is important to recognize that one of the main mechanisms of control of attention is "ignoring." This can be willful or not but is part of the underlying mechanism of the system. People choose to, or not to, cite articles based upon what they want to give recognition to. Thus, putting articles in the public domain often leads to the use of ignoring, excused by claimed lack of knowledge of the existence of the work, amply justified by the volume of information and the existence of the gatekeeper system that specifies which articles are less ignorable. Note that even articles published in high profile journal may be considered ignorable (and often are).
  • Rather than considering this as something to solve as a problem, we need to think about how we can make it work better for the purposes and functions that it serves. The main issue therefore, is the solution of the attentional mechanism of recognition (nominally the zero sum game) rather than the problem of open communication per se. 
Universal interest
  • Global relationships
  • Publication of scientific works (open)
758 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Samuel Klein , Yaneer 758 days ago
Email to Houselets  sent.
Willow B ThoughtsHomelessness isn't just about houses. It's also about land rights, the prison-industrial complex, mental health, youth violence, etc etc etc. Where do we currently spend money (prisons) that could be better spent somewhere else (housing), in a way that is both more ethical and reduces the strain on society? This is a project which folds in other projects, so we can help contexualize and amplify other grantees, plus local partners in one of your cities. We'd also like to make it into a template for other cities to follow.
Willow B
  • Existing projects in better alignment, plus vindicated in their context.
  • Policy makers with clear instruction.
  • Citizens get clear set up on what to advocate for, to solidify political will.
  • For Detroit, we could work with existing Media Lab initiatives? [ask Joi] For San Jose, we could work with Willow's Santa Cruz crew. [ping] Ft Wayne is close to where Willow grew up, there might be some social capital to tap into there. [confirm]
Samuel K [other thoughts]
+ Early notice:  eviction.  leaving apartments when rent increases?  job disappearance? 
+ Health alliance:  what does full mental health coverage look like?  (not exorbitant, but sufficient for all in all cities)  likewise: addiction, rehab?  separate this from the rest of the space.  Align w/ First Day? + Boston's ER initiative (and same in other cities)
+ Funding streams:  estimate the overlap of city, state, fed, church, ngo; health [medicaid], housing [hud], employment [??], family [educ?].  Find an org that has aligned some of these already for reference.  A data-crunching challenge: to follow funding streams.
  • Application
Homeless residents spend much of their time satisfying basic needs and finding work and shelter.  We are developing a tool to model approaches that have worked to end homelessness in US cities to date.  Stable housing, streamlined job placement, medical services, youth mentorship, and a supportive community increase opportunity, reduce the need for stopgap suport, and prevent temporary homelessness from becoming a downward spiral. 
We aim to work with a national coalition such as the Corporation for Supportive Housing, and with individual cities, to help visualize what it could look like to end homelessness, and how that would impact every city sector.
The time is right to learn from successful cities that have permanently reduced homelessness by approaching it as an entire community rather than as charity to the least fortunate, and to find other cities that could benefit from implementing a similar approach.  
Multiple cities - details
If you propose to work in multiple cities select "multiple" and complete this question with details.  
We are interested in finding partners in different cities that want to explore different methods for ending homelessness.  Our goal is a tool that they can use to visualize how methods that have worked elsewhere might look like for their city.  Our contacts in Santa Cruz are already working with neighboring cities, and southern California has the largest homeless population in the country, so San Jose and Long Beach would be natural places to engage. 
785 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Yaneer , Willow Brugh 785 days ago
Homelessness, an initial inquiry
Homelessness is a persistent problem in most cities of the world. It is also often viewed in isolation, rather than in the greater context of health, career, family, and community culture, to which it is often coupled. Recent innovations in approach to addressing homelessness and associated problems in the US, particularly "housing first," have both been hailed as major advances and criticized for their limitations. Some claims suggest a few cities have been able to provide housing and services to all of those who need it [Sam, I think this discussion needs references]. The response to homelessness remains a space of necessary and potential change. NECSI dedicated both of our July salons to the topic of homelessness. 
We started by building a basic map of the problem/solution space of homelessness -- what is the current understanding, strategies to address it and key actors? The <a href="">the complexity discussion list</a> contributed to an ever-growing list of initiatives, research, and reflections on the topic.
The same issues we can see in the <a href="http://www.necsi.edu/research/management/health/"> mismatch of complexity and scale in the medical system <\a> appear to be relevant to the homelessness problem. These reflect the inability to match the scale across the population and complexity of individual circumstances to the organizational capabilities that are mounted to address them. An industrial one-size-fits-all approach does not address diverse individual problems, but efficiency is necessary in order to address the largest scale societal aspects of the problem at sustainable cost. Morover, there is limited effort to analyze the underlying drivers and the opportunity to change them so that the problem itself diminishes in scale. 
Exacerbating the problem may be weak social support systems of family and community; poor state of mental health care; lack of ready access to adequate medical care; the coupling of poverty, crime and with a revolving door prison system; economic developments affecting the relationship of employment opportunities and income and housing costs; geographical dimensions of housing; and the increasing complexity of successful participation in the socio-economic system. People who fall off of accepted paths in societal participation (due to medical emergencies, family issues, mental health complications, employment problems, being born into a poor family, etc.) often get caught in chaotic eddies, cycling in and then out of jail, halfway houses, or other short-term "solutions" while never really getting traction in addressing the overall problem, i.e. shifting them back towards a path that enables effective participation in society. The gap between falling back into these cycles, and hitting escape velocity is ever growing, with the limited support programs available only for already extreme cases. In short, by stripping away social support  and padding, we've made the gaps through which some might fall all the more wider and deeper.
Many cities and organizations are engaged in the solution of the issue of homelessness. While it is difficult to know where to "jump in" to any unexamined complex system, these plurality of approaches form an ecosystem of many useful interventions and lessons. These efforts often do not coordinate and act together for greater impact, they are instead pursuing disparate concepts and implementation strategies. These initiatives address (by no means a complete list): housing placement and support, job training and placement, mental health treatment, addiction mitigation, and safe spaces for marginalized individuals, especially LGBT youth. As an example of a lack of cross-system coordination, while some housing groups may be focused on preventing an individual from relapsing into addiction or becoming a repeat offender. From a complex systems perspective, separation between efforts limits the impact in addressing the complexity of individual circumstances, and perhaps also the scale of the problem across many individuals, but may also enhance innovation. The latter can be helpful, but only if there are opportunities for integration or scaling up of these efforts. Few efforts are focused on addressing underlying societal drivers, such as reforming the mental health, legal or prison systems. 
The benefits of resolving these issues are massive -- ethically, as well as pragmatically. Ethically, having any human not provided with basic human rights is untenable. The rights of the individual cannot be viewed independently of the systems that enable them to have or exercise those rights. Society also benefits by providing systems that enable individuals to contribute to collective advancement through economic activity and social participation. Pragmatically, the cost is far lower to maintain safety nets and care in society, than to house (let alone rehabilitate) those who have fallen through the cracks so that multiple problems reinforce together are then to escape (self-consistency of an attractor). Costs include  law enforcement, prisons, food and shelter, uninsured health care costs, etc.
In a moment of extreme serendipity (it's like someone named Sam planned it that way), the Boston area is focusing on this same topic. This may provide a chance to apply complex systems theory locally, in practice. We're seeking partners with whom to act in our area, and beyond.
848 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Yaneer 848 days ago
Willow B
  • This introduction needs more work from the NECSI crew.
Yaneer A complex systems science perspective on the education system can help guide improvement efforts. The New England Complex Systems Institute is conducting discussions to nucleate innovative efforts in action based upon this perspective. One example is the education system. 
The education system performs a highly complex task. Many individuals are educated but their capabilities and other qualities are diverse and they will eventually do many different things in society. Despite this diversity, the current way of coping with the large number of students has been to evaluate success of the individual and the system through standardized testing. Many educators and parents are not happy with this approach. Standardized testing can be considered to be like asking different kinds of animals to compete in the same task, like climbing a tree. The commonly used alternative is portfolio assessment that does not give objective or comparative indications of capabilities or of the effectiveness of teaching. The biological analogy to animals, however, provides a different alternative, niche selection. Niche selection is the idea that each type of animal competes in a different set of tasks, but they do compete. In education this would correspond to having multiple tests that evaluate different types of capabilities, while still enabling competition that provides measures of success and guidance about where an individual can best contribute in society. Cohorts associated with a particular set of skills can move through  the system challenged by their interaction with peers. This is one of the important ideas that are motivated by complex systems science others are discussed  at http://www.necsi.edu/research/management/education/.
946 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Willow Brugh , Yaneer 946 days ago
Possible Dates for First Day
Willow B
  • December 31st 
would allow for work day participation
still alongside New Year's Day
Taxes and fundraising are in their prime here
Yaneer Synergy with First Night, perhaps listing of First Day events in First Night calendar.
 potential attendees might be distracted because of other events.
Yaneer  many students are away
Willow B
  • January 1st
easily recognizable as First Day in US culture
Yaneer People who would put on programs have to give up vacation day.
Willow B
  • Opening day of baseball 
  • Marathon Monday
Yaneer Already a recognizable day
  • First day of mental health week/month
  • City Awake first day - 4th of December
Existing infrastructure of City Awake
Not otherwise a recognizable date
  • Late August/Early Sept
beginning of school 
  • First day of spring
  • Ides of March!
  • July 4th 
  • Chinese New Year
  • Thai or Cambodian New Year
  • Other New Years
  • Rosh Hashana
  • October 22nd - Mole Day
  • Pi Day
956 days ago
Unfiled. Edited by Willow Brugh , Yaneer 956 days ago
Willow B
  • Blog Post
First Day focuses on personal responsibility for individual, local, global health. As we consider not only what attendees should consider (and hopefully take home) from the event, we must also think about how to activate participants. Catherine D'Ignazio, Justin Kang, and Nadeem Mazen came to speak to us about their experience in activating communities around the Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Hackathon, the City Awake Festival, and as a City Counsillor in Cambridge, MA.
You can see the stream from the event here: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/60883144. We're requesting feedback on the platform we use for videos, so please let us know if this especially did or didn't work for you!
Make the Breast Pump Not Suck
Yaneer We were pleased to hear about a project that successfully activated participants to engage in an area of social sensitivity.  
Willow B Catherine, a professor at Emmerson, spoke to us about the importance and difficulties of breast pumps, and a unique effort that engaged the community to improve them. Ample evidence points to the benefits of breastfeeding, while issues of culture impede the ability of women to provide breastmilk while also maintaining a career. Engineering has offered a "solution" in breastpumps which haven't changed much at all since the early 1900s. And they SUCK (both literally and figuratively). The group Catherine is a part of put together a hackathon to be used as an intervention tool in the society, focused on designing technology that innovates around sensitive issues like breastpumping. So what happens when they opened up space, using the resources and prestigue of the MIT Media Lab, for parents and technologists to work together over a weekend to innovate around this challenge many are so intimately aware of?
It ends up that it went viral online and attracted a lot of media attention. A test pre-event spread over social media, garnering over 1,000 respondants offering suggestions on what they would change (or love to see changed) about breastpumping. The 150 attendees who participated in the event not only faced a unique challenge - they were also a unique demographic, with children running around, a high percentage of women participants (their partners were welcomed as well), and a focus on the user as the visionary and the technologist as support.
Yaneer The teams worked on how to construct new kinds of breastpumps, like making it more like a baby's sucking, or using a non-vaccum based pumping --- such as applying pressure to the breast. Another project was developing a system of software controls and an open hardware device, so various company's devices can be compared. Others created a community network  so pumpers feel less isolated, worked on the space in which pumping takes place, and idenitfied ways to make the experience more social and holistic, by connecting moms that pump with other moms in a relaxed space.
Willow B This shifting from a private to public discussion, reframing how to think about this issue has again gone viral. An entire community of care takers has been activated, connected, and empowered. You can learn more about the event, projects, and results at http://breastpump.media.mit.edu.
City Awake
Since we first started discussing First Day, a regular attendee and awesome person in general, Dhairya, suggested we check out City Awake. At this salon, one of the original instigators of City Awake, Justin, came to speak to us about their approach and vision. He sees Boston as the social innovation city (like Silicon Valley is the city for startups, and Los Angeles for movies). His talk opened with him asking, "How can an event create community, how do you engage and motivate people?"
To get things started, Justin acted as one of an incredible team of dedicated volunteers to create a festival to galvanize the emerging community. It ran Dec 4 to Dec 13 of 2014, and had about 250 partner organizations, and 10,000 of participants. Their ability to do this with a few dozen volunteers had mainly to do with the distributed nature of the event - City Awake hosted a central calendar and impetus for individually-organized talks, events, and activities. 
This year, they'll be celebrating what worked by holding a second event, as well as ongoing engagements with groups like Mass BC/BS, http://cityawake.is/partners/. They'll be focusing on both marketing the ecosystem being built while making sure it has internal strength -- why promote something unless it really is the best?
Learn more about how to get involved at http://cityawake.is
Cambridge City Council
To continue the theme of activating community through events highlighting underlying committments, Nadeem Mazen spoke to us about being a city council member for the city of Cambridge. He reminds us that we don't need huge numbers of people in order to affect change, 4-5 people pushing consistently for 20 years will fundamentally change how a community engages an issue.
He brings his storytelling and transparency skills to public office, and asks what government and tech communities working with each other might be able to do, advocating that accountability be more present for both. As an example, the experience of Brad Feld with start up communities in Boulder Colorado has transformed the city to having a high density of startups.
Nadeem works to help "underorganized communities" to become more organized, so they might advocate and build for themselves, even after he leaves office. His work focuses on what can positively support bottom-up organizing while he exists in the top-down structure. One way he does this is through creating updates in an accessible way on his website, http://www.votenadeem.com, as well as documenting the processes of becoming and being a city council member.
In closing
Listen to what's already there.
Amplify with the community.
Do it in a way that can exist outside of your individual self.
Keep doing it.
  • Meeting Notes
Catalina B Who's here:
Mark - complexity understandable to kids, networker
Lyer - 
Paul -
Sarah - sees complex systems all around her that work
Lili - 
John - City of Sommerville - Uses systems thinking to tackle drug abuse in Sommerville
Vincent - 
Matthew - Science writer
Katherine - Makes data really simple for journalism students. Think about systems that humans are 
Arnan - artist and herbalist
Krit - interested in action embedded cognition
Dan - (send us the link to the research about left & right handed people and accident)
Marshall - excited about releasing a 1.0 version of software that reduces complexity
Anne - why is the system failing in providing adequate service to people who are being left 
Preeta - interested in distributed organizations and general wellbeing
Seen the truth of that anecdote in my experience.
Willow B "underorganized communities"

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