Design for Living Complexities: Open course begins mid July

This course explores critical thinking about design in a range of areas of life and its complexities. It starts July 18 and continues for 6 weeks. The recorded presentations and subsequent discussion are taking place on google+. See for other options for participation (incl. for-credit graduate course) and links to more details about the course. An overview of the course is below. Read more of this post


Bureaucracy: Smart not stupid-making?

I had two responses to the introduction of The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy by David Graeber (2015): 1) Articulate design rules for bureaucracy that might be smart, not a way to make us stupid (as Graeber describes); and 2) Examine the forces that come into play that subvert such designs or, conversely, lead me to fantasize that such a design could be implemented. This post tackles 1) while recognizing the need for 2). Read more of this post

Design for Living Complexities: an open course has begun

This course explores critical thinking about design in a range of areas of life and its complexities. It started July 14 and continues for 3-4 weeks. The recorded presentations and subsequent discussion are taking place on google+. See for other options for participation and links to more details about the course. An overview of the course is below. Read more of this post

Design for living complexities, a course in development

Extracted from, a wikipage that invites reader input
Design is about intentionality in construction,
which involves

  • a range of materials,
  • a sequence of steps, and
  • principles that inform the choice of material and the steps.

Design always involves putting people as well as materials into place,
which may happen by

  • working with the known properties of the people and materials,
  • trying out new arrangements, or
  • working around their constraints (at least temporarily).

Critical thinking involves understanding ideas and practices better when we examine them in relation to alternatives. Read more of this post

Independent publishing I: Why & Basic mechanics

Why publish independently of academic presses and trade publishers?

1.  So you never again hear yourself complaining that the Press:

  • did not provide good copy-editing
  • took too long to bring out the book
  • did not promote the book after it was published
  • provided low royalties.

2. So you can get a small or side project out as a book while you work on a major book project (which, in order to get hired or promoted, you may do through an academic press).

3. So you can build up your own network of copy-editors, graphic designers, and book designers and funnel work to them.

Why not?

1. You do not have time, interest, funds, or contacts for editing, design, or marketing.

2. In order to get hired or promoted, you need the book to be  done through an academic press.

3. Library of Congress will take your book but leave it uncatalogued, i.e., without an LC call number.  Libraries are less likely to purchase the book.

4. ebrary will ignore your attempt to get the pdf of your book added to their collections and libraries can’t make it available.

5. Journals may choose not to review a book that is not from an academic or big-name trade publisher.

Basic mechanics of independent publishing

0. Buy Marcus’s Independent Self-Publishing: The Complete Guide for helpful detail (c. $20). In brief:

1.  Decide on your budget for publishing a book.  (If you set this at, say, $2000, you will probably need to sell 400 copies to cover costs.)

2. Register your publishing business (including register it with your local town hall, start a checking account, and designate one of your credit cards for charges to be made) (c. $40).

3. Purchase 1 or 10 ISBNs from ($125 or $250).

4. Make a contract with Lightning Source to print on demand in the USA (and, if desired, in Australia and UK).  (Print on demand means that you do nothing to have the book sold through online retailers, but can get copies for a little bit more plus shipping to retail yourself [or to give away].)

5. Arrange for the manuscript to be copy edited and then revise it (c. $1000).

6.  Arrange for a designer for the book’s interior and cover (c. $400).

7. Get a preassigned control number from the Library of Congress (  (You have to send them a copy once it is printed.  It may or may not be cataloged by LOC.)

7. Submit the inside of the book to Lightning Source as a pdf/x and the cover using one of their templates; review the proof that will arrive in a week or so; then give the go-ahead for publishing (c. $100 for set up and proof, $60 for listing with Ingrams, and $12/ISBN per year).

8. Set up retailing (incl. payment of sales tax to state government).

9. Undertake marketing (described in future posts).

Tangible and Experiential Objectives for an Open Spaces Workshop

Tangible & Experiential Objectives for an Open Spaces Workshop

Process as Product

Product in Conventional Sense


Tools & Processes





Contributions to Topic


Here & Now

  Tangible Outcomes Learn or refresh tools.Participate in processes.Practice facilitating processes (optional). Establish or thicken connections among participants. Probe, clarify, expose open questions.Insights about new direc-tions for participants’ research, writing, teaching, outreach.Daily Writing.

Respect->Risk->Revelation –> Re-engagement

(through Learning, Interacting, Sharing, Connecting, Communing)


–> Enthusiasm, Hope, Resolve, Courage Sustained

  Tangible Outcomes Cultivating ourselves as participants, collaborators & question-openers.Adopt, adapt, evaluate & develop tools & processes. Connections maintained & developed.Local (i.e., participants’ current realms) kept in tension with trans-local connections. Individuals move in the new directions.Compilation of daily writing—> Programmatic overview?

|——————-Flexible Engagement——————-|

Open Spaces between Activism and Academic work IV

Moving from learning to applying

The workshop participants are self-selected. Give or take some degrees of dis/comfort with activities that are experimental and involve ill-defined scenarios, workshop participants have been prepared to stretch themselves beyond their current practices.  The challenge, however, is to bring others into open spaces and deal with their resistances and any corresponding conflict.

One way to do this to use the authority a teacher has over students and hope that a positive experience for the students leads them to shift into the category of people who would self-select to participate in an open spaces process.  Another way is to combine open spaces process with a topic that hooks people in.  Again, there is self-selection, but not specifically about open spaces.  A third way is writing about what is going on and allow readers to digest this on their own time, to assess intellectually the appropriateness of joining in before taking the step of doing so in practice.

For writing, the first step is to articulate the tangible and experiential objectives.

Daily writing 18 May 2011 from the workshop “Open Spaces for Changing Science and Society

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