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What one sentence best describes your idea?

A new kind of city building that serves as a risk-free, continous city-improvement platform for big ideas.

Describe your idea in more depth. (maximum 300 words)

The Civil Sandbox is a name for a new kind of building. The building is a joint research centre and a public/community centre. You could see it as a kind of “theme park” where the concept is to change the city. Within there is a suite of current research tools and technologies provided by organisations looking for public research input.

The overall idea of Social Computing is to create new interfaces between objects in society. These objects could be buildings, technologies, organisations or ideologies. New interfaces provide experimental approaches that can be tested in practice before being presented or approved. The Civil Sandbox is a centre to manifest public research into better futures.

As well as being a sandbox for new ideas and a city-wide open research lab, the location must also include a wide variety of community and cultural events. This is to ensure that it is a living place where the citizens feel ownership. Technologies and ideas can be researched here, but by providing the products and services to a community.

If you see the building as a computer, you can imagine projects in there as applications. I have carried out several case studies and researched many potential applications, such as “open-source government”. The limit to these applications is dependent on the ideas present within the city.

I’m now taking the first medium-scale step in designing the platform – a city-wide event lasting one month. In this event, we will implement the Civil Sandbox in a prototype form, and use it as a case study for the eventual permanent city improvement.

Please read my introduction which is linked on the youtube video info.

What problem or issue does your idea address? (maximum 150 words)

The idea solves what I believe is one of the core problems: that there is no large-scale collective problem-solving device for when human society goes wrong! I’ve managed to develop a working thought-experiment that threads hundreds or thousands of different ideologies into one another in a constructive fashion.

Human society has reached the stage where we are so far away from the mechanisms running the world that we do not often know how to make a difference. In many random ways, a community can make small differences that are transferred to other locations if popular.

The overall aim of the building is to create a nurturing space for fragile projects which are futuristic in nature. Additionally the Civil Sandbox supports the development of corporate social responsibility programs through product placement and other methods.

If your idea were to become a reality, who would benefit the most and how? (maximum 150 words)

If successful to the extent I can imagine, humanity as a whole can benefit from the idea, most directly those with new ideas and those hungry for change. The impact on society could be similar to a temple in that it helps to increase hope in a better future.

Practical benefits include connective events, project research, product research, new visibility, large scale political action, innovation support, increased international participation, open education facilities and so on. Who knows what new applications will be built there within the first 10 or 100 years even.

What are the initial steps required to get this idea off the ground? (maximum 150 words)

I plan the first event in 2010 in Holland, Sandbox Festival. As a city-wide festival, we have the opportunity to define the “event space” as upgradeable. I have partners who are interested to step in, but I do not have money to create this myself. I am looking for the right kind of money to maintain a public domain approach within the project.

I have a decent number of directly interested partners, all of which are interesting networks in their own right (steve zuckerman gems, scene.org, noisia vision recordings, global forum items.fr, s333 architecture urbanism). Expanding this network and formulating commitments will be among the first key activities.

Describe the optimal outcome should your idea be selected and successfully implemented. How would you measure it? (maximum 150 words)

I would implement the Sandbox city-festival in 2010. It is a prototype civil sandbox in which we can activate an entire city and, to an extent, a global community around the concept of upgrading the city.

In my dream-world, I would love to put your money in the bank and use this and the overall experience to generate the money I need for the event. If I can, I wouldthen give your money back as a way of drawing additional attention to the event. It would, however, be useful for salaries, travel and basic facilities and the financial strategy should be developed at the right time with your involvement hopefully.

Successes could be measured in terms of content generated, user involvement, successful new ideas published, overall press, positive environments, research for the next events and hopefully the blossoming of a whole new wave of innovation, creativity and research in the city.

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