martes, marzo 20, 2012

El videojuego de tu vida

En el siglo pasado los videojuegos eran tan solo videojuegos y nadie pretendía hacerse más inteligente, atlético o mejor ciudadano por entrarle con ganas a la Atari, Spectrum o Commodore 64 (en mi caso). Después vinieron años de lenta maduración de la industria junto con sus usuarios, todavía geeks, cada vez más entrados en carnes, culposos o no tanto, hasta que finalmente le ganaron a Hollywood y su lógica de puntos, desafíos, niveles y recompensas se metió hasta el tuétano en nuestra vida.

Nike, como siempre, pica en punta. Ya no vende accesorios deportivos sino dispositivos para convertirnos en personajes de un videojuego. La Fuelband promete ponernos a todos a correr para competir con los demás o con nosotros mismos:

The bottom line is that the wristband isn’t just a step counter or even a calorie counter. "We wanted to create a universal currency, so that you always get credit and are aware of how active you are," says Ricky Engelberg, Nike+'s director of user experience. "It’s not about reps or laps. This an index of everything you do." Thus, no matter if you ran one day or played tennis another, the idea is that Fuel will be a universal currency allowing you to see how much you’re progressing towards a bigger goal: physical fitness, rather than just exercise or working out.
During the day, you can constantly check in with it. That one detail makes the Fuelband not only a gadget, but a game. It means it’s far more likely to nudge your behavior ever so slightly--by say, encouraging you to walk instead of taking the subway, or showing you how far behind you’ve gotten on your goal after watching football for four hours. "It’s about tiny behavior changes," says Engelberg. "Over a week and a month and a year, it adds up." To build in even more motivation, the band and app register streaks--the number of days you’ve hit your goal. The app also allows you to share your goals and streaks via Facebook and Twitter. (Fast Company). 

En la misma línea puede leerse la nueva tarjeta de beneficios para incentivar el uso de las bicicletas que está siendo testeada en Londres:

By introducing the ‘BikeMile’, an ‘Air Mile’ system for bicycles, PleaseCycle allows brands to incentivise cycle journeys with everything from cheaper coffee and cycle gear to lower health insurance premiums. Several major employers are already using the system to gamify commuting to work, offering rewards such as free holiday time or donations to charity. (The Pop-Up City).

La educación es también terreno fértil para estos cruces. En Chicago están impulsando un nuevo formato de escuela con potencial francamente revolucionario:

The middle school, dubbed the “video-game charter school” by locals, opened last September, on the heels of its sister school, New York City’s Quest to Learn. Both use a curriculum based on game theory, design principles, digital media, and “challenge-based learning,” as Salen describes it. Rather than settling for the default view that teaching is a matter of providing the knowledge that will get kids through standardized tests, challenge-based learning drops students into complex problems that they solve—often collaboratively—through a series of missions sequenced over a ten-week period. Challenges typically combine disciplines, such as Digiton’s use of math and English-language arts, and call for complex problem-solving skills, systems thinking, initiative, feedback, and empathy.
Salen sees a “terrible misalignment” between how kids are being educated in our teach-to-the-test culture and the demands of colleges and workplaces. “Some kids have become excellent at taking tests and at being passive recipients of information: ‘I don’t have to think; the teacher is going to tell me what I need to know to pass the test,’” Salen says. “They’ve never been put in situations where they have to solve problems, think on their own, or be in charge of their own learning. So they go to college or into jobs, and suddenly their manager is asking them to solve something, and they have no skills.” (Metropolis Mag).
También en Singapur están surgiendo ejemplos interesantes en el cruce entre educación y videojuegos.

La tercera edad (¡y hasta la cuarta!) constituye una franja etaria cada vez más importante para nuestras sociedades. Vivimos más tiempo y queremos hacerlo bien. Aparentemente los videojuegos pueden darnos una mano en esta materia:

It's that last item that most interests psychologists Anne McLaughlin and Jason Allaire at North Carolina State University. The duo are part of a team that was just awarded $1.2 million from the National Science Foundation to fund a four-year study of cognitive decline in the elderly — specifically, whether playing certain video games might help slow the effects of aging. The theory is that the strategy, memory and problem-solving skills necessary for mastering certain games may translate to benefits in the real world, beyond a glowing computer screen. (Time).

martes, marzo 06, 2012

Yo vivo en una ciudad...

Medio mundo (literalmente) vive en ciudades y el diseño tiene algo que decir -y hacer- al respecto. El riesgo, por supuesto, es estirar tanto el concepto de design thinking hasta que deje ser inteligible. De todos modos, son muchos los ejemplos que demuestran el rol positivo del diseño a la hora de encarar los problemas urbanos. 

La mirada: El diseño es, por sobre todo, una disciplina basada en la observación y orientada a la resolución de problemas. La presentación del indio Rohan Shivkuman en What Design Can Do! apuntó justamente a la capacidad de los diseñadores para entender la trama oculta en los pliegues de la ciudad y la sensibilidad para plantear soluciones a escala humana:

Using Dharavi, considered Asia’s largest slum that is located in Mumbai, Shivkumar showed how designers are able to redevelop an area into a sustainable and profitable living environment. Instead of building large shopping malls and business districts, which would force many out of their own homes, by looking at the design of the location and mapping the lives of those living within the community, it is possible to create a thriving community that simply needs a new way of looking at things. Designers need to stop hiding from problems and find ways to face them head on. It’s about going beyond the formal training, asking not only what does it mean to be a designer and what does being a relevant designer mean. Without the ability to find relevance in what is really happening, then as a designer you’re sitting on a surface missing what is truly going on down below.

La emoción: Los diseñadores pueden ayudar a los gobiernos a "conectar" a las personas con las ciudades que habitan, invirtiendo en lo que Peter Kageyama llama "infraestructura del amor":

Yes, we need to pave our streets and fix potholes — but there is more to a city than that. My worry in the current economic/political climate is that we will fixate only on these traditional “essentials,” and in doing so undermine the very thing that is keeping many communities going – the love, affection and loyalty that people have for their places. We need to expand our expectation of “essentials” and include that which speaks to our higher selves, and invest at least a little in beauty, fun and engagement. This does not take lots of money — it takes creativity, imagination, and an awareness of its importance. 
Ultimately, we need to invest in the “infrastructure of love” because emotions matter. They play a critical role in our decision-making process since they tell us what to value. If we are not emotionally attached to our cities, it shows. And things we don’t value become disposable, so we feel free to walk away from them without a second thought because we have little emotional or other investment in them. When we love someone, we are willing to do more for them, to make sacrifices — we forgive shortcomings and fight for them. Emotions are contagious, and our cities need them now more than ever.

La visión: Por sus cicatrices las ciudades transpiran una energía latente preñada de posibilidades. El diseño puede contribuir a hacer realidad esos futuros deseados. Los espacios vacantes, por ejemplo, están ofreciendo los desafíos más interesantes, tal como demuestran el Dutch Atlas of Vacancy, el proyecto Popuhood, Depave, 3Spaceo la proliferación de huertos urbanos. Vale la pena citar a Manu Fernández en el mismo post mencionado antes:

Con la que tenemos encima, más nos vale aprender a hacer de la ciudad un espacio flexible, liberador más que recortador de usos, expresiones y actividades. Son, por ejemplo, una buena alternativa para dar usos (transitorios o permanentes) a solares vacíos. Urbanismo adaptativo. Son, por ejemplo, una forma de expresión y organización comunitaria, y quizá son tiempos para ello. Urbanismo adaptativo. Son, por ejemplo, una vía para empezar a entender el sistema de producción y distribución alimentaria de otra manera. Son, como bien sugiere Jordi en una buena propuesta, alternativas para la implicación ciudadana en la ciudad.

Buenos Aires tiene una saludable base de diseñadores y una escena acostumbrada a desarrollarse en contextos de crisis recurrentes. Quizás sea hora de emular proyectos como ExpoTENtial para aprovechar esa energía creativa:

Conceived by Laetitia Wolff, "ExpoTENtial, 10 urban interventions x 10 design labs" is a multi-dimensional, curated platform/festival that seeks to foster NY design communityʼs engagement with the city by investigating ideas for a slower (yes), smarter, livelier, healthier urban experience. The labs focus on a selection of complex, pressing and sustainability-related challenges (food systems, climate change, transportation, energy efficiency, recycling, information overload, etc), using the city as a context for design and design as a specific point of view.