What the world needs is a another blog. No, really. This one’s about global governance.

More specifically, it’s going to be about technology and global governance. Or how the former affects the latter.

What’s global governance? It’s about massive global problems like climate change. And the current absence of solutions. These ‘problems without passports’ don’t know boundaries. They’re not controlled by national governments. And they affect everyone on the planet, but some more than others. And the ‘some’ aren’t necessarily those who can do anything about it.

The post-1945 state of global governance allowed a small group of nation states to design and sometimes enact global policy. It is inappropriate today. It may have been inappropriate in 1945.

Today there is deadlock on climate change, as nation states are designed to maximise their national interest. This is true with other global problems. There are inefficient and insufficient efforts made towards global security and global health. Global financial and trade regulation is captured by large private sector actors. Democracy does not exist at the global level.

This blog is about what joins all these problems together – global governance, and how technology may influence it.

It’s about the ideal of a global digital participative democracy, formed quite differently from the top-down multilateral or transnational approaches. It borrows from the web concept of ‘2.0’, where things are organised socially through sharing and collaboration. This concept has been applied to government (‘gov2.0’), which suggests that as familiarity with web 2.0 grows, connected citizens can achieve many of the roles of governance themselves. This could include monitoring, research, policy debate, prioritisation, budgeting and decision making – all taking place in an online community, unbounded by location. It is a movement towards participatory democracy, in which government becomes a platform for citizen-led initiatives.

It’s global governance 2.0.

In a global context, cooperative and collaborative solutions could be built from the ground up, sidestepping international deadlock and democratising the governance process. The power of new networks organising themselves with open data and new communication, budgeting and management tools would generate real legitimacy, where every member of a global society has a voice. 

Whereas multilateral institutions struggle to accommodate growing numbers of actors, 2.0 institutions that use co-creative and collaborative processes are strengthened. 

There are over 6bn people on earth. Technology allows for a global conversation to happen about the issues that affect everyone on the planet. Then it enables people to get together to do something about these issues.

This blog is an attempt to document and analyse some of this change. 


Dear Nike and Wieden+Kennedy, have you thought about running a school?

Dear sirs,

I do two things that have inspired this post. I mentor a 6 yr old boy, who was recently excluded from school on account of his behaviour. He is sometimes what might be described as hyperactive, and I’ve found that the way to engage him best is by playing sport.


I also work in communication, and I’m a huge fan of W+K’s work for Nike. It’s just brilliant: Grid, Boom (below), What Should I Do?, Write the Future – terrific, inspiring stuff.



So I put the two together. and thought: nike schools.


nike schools


(for kids that can’t sit still)


you’ve got the ethos of the school down already: just do it; the ‘be whatever you want to be’ vibe. Write the Future? How is that not a school motto already?


A lack of aspiration is generally the classic failing in kids from lower income families, kids stuck in the poverty trap – their parents don’t have high hopes for them, their community doesn’t inspire them, they have no aspiration.


And then at school we compel kids to sit still for hours – when they are built to run around (see Sir Ken Robinson on kinetic learning in this TED talk)


There is a generation of young urban males being switched off schools. 

So what do they aspire to? Sports stars. They look up at sports stars as the ultimate achievers – partly because due to the awesome branding that Nike does.


So let’s teach, reward, discipline, guide kids through sport. they’ll lap it up. trajectory and distance of free kicks; the speed of the football is distance over time…


Now I’m guessing Nike aren’t prepared to run a school – but they don’t have to; you find a willing partner running an academy, and you sponsor them with some cash, they design the lessons around sport, or ensure there is vast amounts of sport in the school day.


In return, Nike provide loads of sportswear, which forms rewards for good academic and sporting achievement; and more importantly, Nike or W+K provide all the branding and ethos advice the school can take. 


Imagine a giant orange swoosh on the black perimeter wall of the school – bright orange letters that greet the kids with ‘Just Do It’. The constant association of high sporting achievement with high academic achievement


don’t know if it would be good marketing, but it would be amazing for the kids.


just do it.



joe mitchell


p.s. I’ll stop writing about Nike/W+K for a bit now.


Nike and Wieden+Kennedy produce the best digital marketing campaign of the year

Nike is run by marketing geniuses. Or it’s something to do with Wieden+Kennedy, their brilliant ad/creative agency.

In my favourite digital marketing thing of the year, they took over phoneboxes across London, and challenged people to run between them. Faster and further than their neighbours. It was all done by postcode, so it was all hyperlocal. And it happened over a 24hr period – runners got a code that they bashed into every phone box they ran to, and every run was logged online. Badges were awarded for running between postcodes, running furthest, running fastest, and points were tallied live on NikeGrid.com. After 24 hrs, the champion of each postcode was announced. Both on the website, but also on local electronic billboards. 

 (Flickr credit: Birdsigh)

It was genius. It was like being in some weird secret society, where you knew you were up against other people, but didn’t know who they were. They were rivals, but cos you were both doing this faintly underground challenge, they were comrades. It was all managed digitally, but it took place in the real world – racing down London streets rather than sitting in front of a monitor. It’s like one of those massively multi-player online games, but not online.

And now NikeGrid is running again. This time they’ve added the option to run as a team (London university students will lap this up) and instead of 24hrs, it’s 15 days. 

All of the ‘Grid’ stuff is branded and designed beautifully: underground, gritty, urban etc. Check out their hexagonal honeycomb-style map of London below (given out to those who ran last time – keeping the ‘club’ thing going). It’s a pretty long way from the Nike that sponsors giant football teams or puts great cinema ads together. This hits a real active audience in a way that they want to join in. 


The other clever thing is that you have to sign up through Facebook, which of course means “You irrevocably grant NIKE, its group companies and third party commercial partners the right indefinitely and throughout the world, without any expectation of compensation, further permissions or notifications to: (i) use your photograph, video or film portrayal, image, likeness, voice and any other means which identify you”

Ah, good times. Privacy is dead. Long live Facebook.


Why Capitalism is so 1.0

In my general love for social media and the internet, and how they change everything, utterly, I’ve been thinking about markets.

Markets work: they produce vast quantities of things rich people don’t need at huge environmental cost” isn’t what the Buttonwood columnist in The Economist wrote recently.

They wrote, of course, that ‘markets work’ and paraphrased Friedrich Hayek as saying that markets ‘represented the individual decisions of millions – the wisdom of crowds, if you like’. This made me think of all the hype about social media: the combined efforts of millions on Twitter, Facebook etc. Wikipedia as a remarkable product of 100m hours of ‘cognitive surplus‘. The websites that try to harness the ‘wisdom of crowds’ or are platforms for collaborative creation: e.g. Beta CupJovotoHypios

I was taught that economics is about one problem: the allocation of resources, such as capital, land and labour. Who gets what resources, how the resources are used, what is produced, who contributes, how products are distributed; that sort of thing. And the capitalist model, best elucidated by Adam Smith, says that markets provide the best solution, by managing millions of personal decisions about what’s best for an individual. Through the cumulative effects of personal decisions, the market sends signals (mainly in the price of goods/services) about what should be produced and how, where things should be sent, who gets what, etc. The ‘invisible hand’ distributes the resources.

The problem is that this means that you only get a say in the what/who/where if you’ve got money with which to signal your desire. ‘Money votes.’ It’s not particularly revolutionary to suggest that this might not best way to organise things. The reason for listening to you shouldn’t be due to whether you have money or not. No money no voice. Capitalism and democracy aren’t logical partners: an old argument.

So I wonder what Hayek and Smith would have made of the internet.

It seems to me that the internet provides an alternative way of solving the economic problem. Technologies like social media allow management of vast quantities of information, previously unknowable or unmanagable. Rather than market-based information like prices and profits as signals, we can allocate resources based on much deeper, more personal, more real information. We can account for those without capital. Anyone with a digital voice can take part in a global conversation about the what/who/how/where of resources.

What this physically looks like, I’m not sure. But it might be something like NeighborGoods, and similar non-profits or social-goal driven companies, like Kiva, etc. They’re all pretty small-scale at the moment, and deal with things that are tiny in the grand scheme of things. But perhaps it starts with these.

Exciting times.

A few notes on digital collaborative health inspired by @cshirky @LSEpublicevents

A quick note of Clay Shirky’s lecture on Cognitive Surplus can be found at DavePress

This is just a point about one of Shirky’s key examples, patientslikeme, cos it’s amazing.

As he pointed out, it completely throws open what we assumed about medical data. And particularly mental health. 

US citizens are voluntarily publishing vast amounts of data about their medical conditionsThe site then aggregates the data, creating some funky charts (e.g. charts of average dosage per drug), and, it claims, revolutionising medical research, treatment and understanding for both suppliers and users.

Plenty will worry about people self-medicating; one comment says

 “PatientsLikeMe is the main reason that I concluded I had been mis-diagnosed depressive, instead of bipolar, and just recently decided to try new medication.” 

Presumably that would worry a lot of doctors – but it’s unstoppable. The medical profession is going to have to change…but how? Will sites like this increase the average knowledge of medicine, enable peer-to-peer practitioning, or simply indulge hypochondriacs? Will a clinician’s role be in moderating sites like these? 

But for champions of transparency and open data, it’s almost a holy grail: people are volunteering what would have been considered their most private data. The strictest rules apply to its release by organisations, so patientslikeme gets the individuals to ‘open’ it. They don’t seem to have to try that hard to convince:  http://www.patientslikeme.com/about/openness

we believe sharing your healthcare experiences and outcomes is good. Why? Because when patients share real-world data, collaboration on a global scale becomes possible…


Currently, most healthcare data is inaccessible due to privacy regulations or proprietary tactics. As a result, research is slowed, and the development of breakthrough treatments takes decades. Patients also can’t get the information they need to make important treatment decisions. 


Furthermore, we believe data belongs to you the patient to share with other patients, caregivers, physicians, researchers, pharmaceutical and medical device companies, and anyone else that can help make patients’ lives better. Will you add to our collective knowledge… and help change the course of healthcare? 

Never mind an online encyclopaedia. Collaborative healthcare is coming to a laptop near you.

The chicks are alright (or why Farmville matters)

There's loads of information about how social media is changing the world. Twitter and Facebook campaigns are rarely out of the news. But I'm yet to see any mention of how the public sector or third sector might learn from Farmville.

So here goes (and it's not just for Defra).

Farmville has 80m users; it's the most successful 'social game' in the world.

It's frankly very dull. You get a plot of land, you can cultivate it, grow stuff, get animals, and gradually add more and more things to your farm as you earn 'money' after harvesting. 

But somehow it has 80m 'active' users.

How do they do it? And is possible to get that kind of engagement in what you might call 'games for good'?

The first thing they do when you are signing up is show you which of your friends play. This builds trust: you feel it's okay to get involved in a childish game on Facebook, because several of your respected peers with high-powered jobs are already playing.

Then, once you're in, the 'friend' thing is constant. There are endless updates as to what your friends are doing and it's almost impossible to log in without sending free gifts to friends, who are then encouraged to send free stuff back to you. From within the game you can message your friends and they can remind you to do things. Even when you ignore the game, your friends can tend your farm for you (chasing birds off your seed patch, etc), which enables you to come back to it more easily and creates an idea of team-work.

Each 'play' is quite short – you can only spend 10-15mins or so before you've planted up everything and need to come back later when things have grown, so it appeals to hyper-short concentration spans of the net-generation.

Futhermore, Farmville constantly encourages you to share news of what you've 'achieved' (if you like, the 'choice architecture' is engineered to make it very easy to share your Farmville news with all your facebook friends, regardless of whether they play: it's always more effort not to do so). And this reinforcement helps you share the message. 

In effect, it's designed to be socially contagious.

The game itself goes on and on – you move up a level or stage once you've earned enough, and then you're rewarded slightly different crop seeds, or a different colour tractor, but presumably the game never ends – there is no win, because then you'd stop playing.

So the lessons for any kind of application you want people to engage with regularly are:
  1. initially reassure by referring to other friends who participate
  2. provide constant opportunities for reporting between friends
  3. design for 'short, but often' use
  4. allow friends to help each other and to reward each other
  5. create endless small-step stages, with constant (if very small) rewards
And these kind of lessons are beginning to be applied to try to effect behaviour change, e.g. http://getupandmove.me/ by Contagion Health (great name) – it's making socially contagious games for health. 

The current problem is that for real world application you can't be at a computer all the time (in fact, that's the opposite of what they're trying to achieve), but once app-enabled mobiles are the norm…