hiDenise

Recent blog posts by hiDenise

Will it happen? A makerspace for the homeless

During my last trip to San Francisco, I heard about Marc Roth’s unconventional but sensible use of assistance money when he was homeless: He bought a membership to an SF makerspace. Marc learned the ins and outs of digital fabrication, started a successful laser cutting business, and now he’s ready to pilot The Learning Shelter, a 90-day residency program for SF homeless to build marketable making skills.

I’m enthralled. I’ve been exploring the future of work at MIT. This has looked mostly like peer economy research, but I have also been thinking about how other workforce development models may not fit today’s circumstances. Cities have traditionally approached workforce development from one of two perspectives:

[Peer economy] Media's place as herald and tastemaker

People are often boggled when I follow up my research interest in the future of work with the name of my M.S. program: Comparative Media Studies at MIT. While I could go on about how economic security is the cornerstone for meaningful pursuits—including civic participation—here's a direct media tie in. The following is an excerpt from my thesis draft. 

The Fordist framework1 is fraying quickly. Economic decline, technological displacement and globalization have resulted in a shortage of jobs that will not rebound. A powerful social contract is broken, leading Americans to question if investing in human capital—apprenticeships, internships, education, experience and technical know-how—is a smart use of time and personal resources.

These conditions account only partially for why attention is shifting to other work models. Another powerful influence is former and current media portrayal.

Scaling the unicorns: Diverse perspectives that serve the public good

In a room of urban planners, architects, engineers, data viz experts, designers, programmers, and media professionals, we asked, “how do we scale the unicorns?”

Unicorns are those perspectives we need, the ones we easily demand but are hard to find. Women coders, technologists in local government, architects in humanitarian aid, geographers in newsrooms.


Unicorns, by rahuldlucca on Flickr

[Peer economy] Why the peer economy comes off as "share-washing"

Pay attention to Tom Slee; he's snide, but he's spot-on. In a recent blog post, he neatly sums up how peer economy proponents appear to advocate selectively for its place in the formal economy.

[Peer economy] Is collaborative consumption an excuse to own more?

Since Rachel Botsman coined the term "collaborative consumption," independent analysts, corporate consultants, startups and thought leaders have all translated the idea for diverse audiences. The Mesh author Lisa Gansky* has said it's about access, not ownership. Resulting questions ask whether certain generations are more amenable to sharing. Are urban areas predisposed to sharing? Is Europe an intrinsically more sharing culture than America? Can this ethic be rolled into environmental benchmarks? Co-living, coworking, lending and borrowing… some venture that this is a market disruption driven by disgust with excess. The potential reduction in consumerism is a sign that people are returning to to what really matters.

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