Kudos and tidbits
A large part of what we’re attempting to do here at the Planning Pool is to implement user-friendly technologies to give people a greater voice in their community. We’ll be adding/improving a couple of features over the coming months to achieve this goal. With this in mind, kudos to Eric Gordon and Gene Koo, who have together been awarded a MacArthur grant for their Hub2 project to explore the urban planning applications of the video game Second Life.
Though some old-timers will scoff at the thought that Second Life might one day be a widely utilized planning tool, it (or something similar) will become only more viable in the future. There are surely large chunks of essential information (like accurate budgeting) that cannot yet be fully captured in video games, but people like Gordon and Koo are trying to close those gaps. What’s particularly striking about their effort are the “technology interpreters” they bring in to assist novice gamers: youths. While older generations might need these “interpreters”, young people are already being socialized with technology that can contribute to participatory planning practices. The challenge for planners, then, might not be to create new media participatory programs, so much as to utilize what already exists.
Koo wrote an excellent blog on video games and democratic participation.
*For the record, I have no idea how to play Second Life. Sim City on the other hand…
- Many kids grow up wanting to be astronauts, scientists, professional athletes or entertainers. Not nearly as many long to be planners or civil engineers. The National Building Museum, which does some awesome stuff, is hoping to change that.
- Think planning in North America is tough? Don’t complain to Gautam Bhatia, who eloquently describes the challenges of planning and architecture in India in an eight-part series, beginning with this article.