Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Shortlist for project topics!

Below are the topics you can choose to form project groups around. There are 22 topics in the list below and 63 students taking the course (excluding the five members of the executive group). I expect around 12 groups to come out of this process (with 4 or 5 or at times perhaps even 6 members in each group). GO HERE to specify what your 1st, 2nd and 3rd hand choice for project topics is!

DO NOTE: The deadline for specifying your preferences is Friday October 10 at 17.00. I will work on putting the project groups together over the weekend and you will get to know the results at seminar 4 (Monday Oct 13 at 10-12). If you do not specify you preferences, I will assume that you are equally interested in all topics and equally happy to work with whichever topic in whichever group you end up in!

DO NOTE: It is possible to form two project groups around the same topic if there is overwhelming interest in a specific topic. These two groups would initially have to work together to carve out two different and separate directions in which to take your respective projects. It's ok to overlap - but not too much!

I wrote a blog post about the Future of Media group formation process on my personal academic blog (I have previously linked to the same text): "How should student project groups be put together?". Scroll to the last part of the blog post if you just want the basic facts.

By all means also have a look at a second blog post I have written about students' ambition, grades and the work load in this course; "Student project groups - ambitions and grades". 

Do also note that the topics below are only to be seen as starting points - the project groups can developchange and bend (almost to the point of "kidnapping") the descriptions below in any direction you think is interesting.

/Daniel & Malin

Possible project group ideas:
  1. Trust and reputation systems. For sharing to be able to work, there has to be (justified) trust between strangers. So who should you trust? How do state-of-the-art reputation systems encourage and ensure the creation of “social capital” and mutual trust today (and punish free riders and cheaters)? How could such systems be further developed to support the digital commons and the sharing economy of tomorrow?
  2. 3D society. 3D-printers (and makerspaces and Fab labs etc.) will change society forever. Explore and explain how by finding, talking and participating with the Stockholm “scene”. Choose to explore the positive effects (Rifkin) and/or possible negative effects (printing guns and drugs, who has control over the printers or of the equivalent of the “ink”).
  3. The future of learning. What is the future of learning and the future of universities in an age of free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) on the Internet? What are the pros and cons of MOOCs compared to the alternatives?
  4. A sustainable sharing economy. What is the relationship between sustainability and the sharing economy? How can a future sharing economy be shaped to be maximally sustainable?
  5. The future of the intellectual/creative commons (CC). What is the future of copyrights vs the future of sharing and of the commons? The electric car company Tesla released all their patents only this summer (search for “tesla patents release”) to grow the pie rather than to protect their own share of a much smaller pie. Is this an anomaly or a harbinger of things to be?
  6. Sharing motivations. Why do people share? For the noble good, for making some extra cash for myself, from dire need or for some other reason (or combination of reasons)? What does this imply for the future of sharing?
  7. The end of big business. The sharing economy will undermine and topple some (or many?) of the giants of the 20th century industrial economy. Explore and explain how. Will collaborative consumption ruin old business structures and create a new economic system?
  8. Share or die. Decreased affluence will be the big driver behind the sharing economy. Use countries in southern Europe that has fallen on hard times as a template and invent ways of leveraging the digital commons and the sharing economy to improve the lives of formerly-affluent Europeans. Perhaps we urgently need to build trust and learn to cooperate to increase our resilience against present or future economic hardship?
  9. The future of discrimination. How will the sharing economy create a worse society for those who belong to minorities of different kinds - including ethnic minorities and those who are too poor to consume (or even to connect online)?
  10. A future sharing society. If today’s services are only precursors to a future sharing society, envision what that society looks like? If the sharing economy reaches a tipping point/critical mass, how could that “change everything”?
  11. The future of crowdwork. Crowdwork is a powerful idea. Some work is done by voluneers for free (Wikipedia, Foldit), other work is done for profit (Amazon Mechanical Turk). What is the future of crowdwork? For for-profit crowdwork, how can such ideas be leveraged to be beneficial for employers and service providers (e.g. Amazon) as well as for employees?
  12. The future of piracy. What is the connection (if any) between piracy and the commons? Do pirates perceive themselves to be “commoners”? Are pirates “liberating” things that should be in the common or are they criminals who should be stopped? Hunt down your very own pirates (and anti-pirates) and find the answers to how these things go together.
  13. Sharing and size. With smaller size comes trust and intimacy, but increased usefulness comes from scaling up. Are there (social/sociological) limits to the commons and to sharing? Can these be overcome by technology (or legal frameworks)? How?
  14. The future of trust. Trust might very well be *the* issue that determines the future of the digital commons and the sharing economy. How do companies (and non-profits) work with issues of trust today? What are the possibilities and what are the challenges?
  15. The bottom-up revolution. Instead of installing expensive meteorological weather stations, why not let (many) ordinary users report the temperature and the shape of the clouds through an app (e.g. Shareweather)? And why not build bottom-up maps of pollution or congestion or where the nearest sushi bar or free wi-fi is? What are the implications of creating new commons through this bottom-up “revolution”?
  16. Sharing against resource scarcity. Roope (Oct 1) mentioned that commodities (raw materials) are increasing in price. Is sharing (making smarter use of natural resources) not an optional, but a necessary strategy to maintain current standards? If so, what are the implications for the future?
  17. The future of financing. Can we share money (loans) better? We need to find funding also for all the great digital commons/sharing economy ideas and startups, so how can money and financing (loans) be shared through p2p lending (kickstarter, zopa, fundedbyme, toborrow etc.)?
  18. The future of shared food. Can food production (locally cultivated organic food in gardens) and preparation/consumption (shared dinners etc.) be brought to the cities and mediated by ICT?
  19. The future of direct democracy. How will ICT change politics and decision-making. What are the alternatives to elections every fourth year? Collaborative decision making, direct democracy, polls - what has been done and what could be done? How can politics go from being “a profession” to involving many (again).
  20. All in. If a country would fully commit to a sharing economy in, say, a 20-year perspective, what could that society look like? Would everyday tasks be more efficient? Would people enjoy life more? How would culture have changed? Would trust be used as currency (how)?
  21. The future of work. What will happen to work (good jobs, bad jobs, no jobs) if the sharing economy expands? Will sharing create a better society for all or will it undermine safety and security in the job market, e.g. taxi drivers starting to work for Uber but with lower salaries)? What are the effects of the current sharing economy on job creation and the job market?
  22. The future of libraries. Libraries have been around for a long time and are part of the industrial-era state-supported commons. What is the future of libraries in a digital world?

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