Grants/Open for Good: Using Creative Commons for Social Design

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Open for Good: Using Creative Commons for Social Design

Applicants: 58-12 Design Lab
Affiliation: 58-12 Design Lab
CC affiliated? No
Contact: Jonathan Crisman
Coordinator: Jonathan Crisman
Project Start: 2010/08/01
Project End: 2011/08/01
Download budget Discussion

Describe the project you are proposing as clearly as possible in just five sentences.

"Open for Good" is a research project that aims to spread awareness about the various people and organizations that are using design for good and are sharing their intellectual property through Creative Commons. There are a number of graphic designers, product designers, and architects that are exploring this exciting new territory, such as the Open Design Foundation and the Open Architecture Network. We will create a set of interviews with key designers in a style similar to This American Life, as well as produce a book that profiles a more comprehensive set of designers in a style similar to Architecture for Humanity's "Design Like You Give a Damn," and distribute this material directly to the 431 accredited US architecture and design programs' libraries in order to foster the growing interest in this type of work. Additionally, the material will be disseminated through a variety of electronic means, such as our website, podcasts, etc.

Detail the tangible project output (e.g., paper, blog post, written materials, video/film, etc.; this would be in addition to the final written report that successful grant recipients will be expected to deliver to CC at the conclusion of the project).

The deliverables, in addition to the final written report, will include:

1. One approximately 60-minute audio recording to be distributed on CD to schools as well as made available online via podcast, etc. 2. One book of approximately 140 pages to be distributed in hard copy to schools as well as made available online via PDF-format on our website, in segments on blogs, etc.

Describe the community you are targeting. How would the project benefit the community?

We are targeting, in particular, the architecture and design communities via the accredited US post-secondary school system. We feel that this means has the potential to reach a vast audience as students come from around the world to these programs, and the students, as designers of the future, have the potential to then spread awareness about the concept in their own communities, as well as participate in the movement of open design, providing new technologies and products for developing nations, architecture for slum communities, and more. Best efforts will also be made to spread knowledge about the movement, and about the profiled designers, in appropriate communities around the world where the designers are working, and to the public, at large, via the />

What is your relationship with the community you are targeting? Why are you the best individual/organization to lead this project? Do you have prior experience in related projects?

We are very involved with the academic community via our close ties with UCLA, the university from which all of the current staff of our organization came from, as well as via our ties to the architecture and design community in Los Angeles, and our current ties to MIT and UC Davis. While our organization is young, we firmly believe that it is the best entity to take on such a project due to the simple fact that there are no other non-profit, charitable organizations that have our unique focus on research and social design, in conjunction with a broad interest in all of the design fields. We have recently completed or are currently working on similar projects that are researching new low-cost housing prototypes, the role of migrant workers in relationship to the World Expo in Shanghai, and on the current state of housing in Los Angeles.

How will you measure and evaluate your project’s impact - on your main participants? Other contributors? On the larger community?

We are aware that our project has impacts that are extremely long-term and are difficult to measure -- essentially, we are attempting to use the production of well-designed knowledge in order to sway students and future designers to become involved in the realm of open design, to use their talents for the common good, and to share their intellectual property with the world, via Creative Commons. Immediate impacts will be relatively easy to monitor: the successful presence of the knowledge in all 431 accredited architecture and design schools, monitoring the number of downloads of the knowledge from the web, etc. The long-term impacts will primarily be seen through the rise in the number of design projects and firms that are devoted to promoting the common good and that license their intellectual property through Creative Commons.

How many participants do you expect to be involved in your project? How will you seek and sustain their involvement?

We expect that the project will take the organizational efforts of our full staff, as well as the additional effort of individuals that will research the designers that are currently out there and are actively involved with social design, that will develop stories and interview and edit audio footage, and that will design and edit the print publication. While this additional effort may come from our staff, there is also the possibility of hiring outside, like-minded individuals on a per-project basis in order to assist us. Finally, there is, of course, the involvement of all the designers that we will be researching and we fully believe that they will be very interested in getting this exposure as well as contributing toward furthering their causes through our project.

Describe how your project will benefit Creative Commons' mission to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in "the commons".

Our project will benefit Creative Commons' mission to increase the amount of creativity in "the commons" through specifically targeting creativity that is related to the public interest and trying to get up-and-coming "creators" (i.e. students in higher education programs related to design) to join the movement through the power of inspiration, awareness, and good design.

Describe what technologies and tools your project will use. What kinds of technical skills and expertise do you bring to the project? What are your technical needs?

The technology and tools that our project will use are the ones that we already own and hold expertise in. They include computers, design programs (e.g. the Adobe suite), recording equipment, sound editing software, and web distribution tools. Our current and past projects have been deployed in a similar, multi-media format.

What challenges do you expect to face, and how do you plan to overcome them?

The greatest challenge, and the one that our organization has consistently had to face, is the ongoing lack of recognition for role that social design has in making the world a better place. We firmly believe, however, that while more immediate effects can be seen through health care or the provision of food, the role of good design (and particularly open source social design) is crucial to creating long-term, sustainable social change. This project, as a whole, will be another step toward that recognition. Speaking on particulars, the difficult aspects to the project include finding good stories on social design and framing them in an inspirational way, as well as finding a continual source of funding for our operational expenses beyond the project. We plan on overcoming these challenges through the ways that we have overcome them in the past: hard work, determination, and reliance on the many mentors and relationships in the design field that we have developed.

How do you plan to sustain your project after the Creative Commons funding has ended? Detail specific plans. How do you plan to raise revenue to continue your efforts in the future?

This project, in particular, has a finite beginning and end so we don't foresee significant issues related to sustaining the project after Creative Commons funding has ended. A nominal flow of funding should come from the distribution of hard copies of the material we produce and we expect that that will cover any continuing costs of the project. As an organization, we have an extremely low overhead (all our staff work as volunteers and our designers work for below standard industry rates in a field whose primary expense is labor) and are sustained on small donations from the public via our website.

How can this project be scalable, or have a scalable impact?

Upon the success of this project, we envision that it can be scaled through regular publication (perhaps annually) of new designers that are using Creative Commons and work in the public interest. There are also possibilities to use the knowledge in order to spur a more cohesive movement through the gathering of profiled designers at institutions, etc.

What resources and support do you expect Creative Commons to provide to your project to ensure its success (if any)?

The support for web distribution and publicity that has typically been provided to other efforts that further awareness and support for Creative Commons similar to ours.

Describe how your organization currently communicates with its community members and network partners. (100 words)

We currently communicate through a variety of web media -- email list-serve, Facebook page, Twitter, website, etc. -- as well as face-to-fact contact at events, meetings, etc. that we already attend through our social circles.