The IFTF Blog
Participatory Social Systems for Well-Being
One of the big stories we highlighted in last year's Ecosystems of Well-Being Map centered around participatory health, and it stems from a set of broader trends we're seeing both in and out of health. In effect, this story highlights efforts to co-create the conditions that produce well-being--meaning crowdsourcing infrastructure development, using peer-to-peer tools to connect with each other and meet health needs. It's a world where our well-being comes not from what we can do as individuals, but from what we can do together.
This is a space that has exploded pretty dramatically since we put together our map last year. Take the rise in crowdfunding as one signal--a concept that was barely known a year ago, but was just listed by Technology Review as one of the ten emerging technologies shaping the world, driven in large part by the success of Kickstarter--and we're already starting to see its impact on health and well-being. For example, a project from Slow Money called Credibles is using crowdfunding to enable people to raise funds for relatively small-scale food operations, such as growing and selling organic eggs. What's notable about crowdfunding is how it's lowering barriers to entry for people with good ideas--you don't need to go to a bank to do something; if you can develop a network of others who share your passion, and are willing to help contribute, you can do something.
And these kinds of innovations aren't limited to exchanging money. For example, a new game called FavorTree is designed to help people meet each other, connect and build trust by doing small favors--like loaning someone a piece of cooking equipment or giving them a ride to a doctor--and uses points and other game mechanics to encourage people to participate and collaborate.
Critically, the bulk of the work here is often driven by lots of everyday people making small contributions that add up, rather than a couple large scale contributions. And early successes like Kickstarter point toward an incredible potential here to reimagine health and well-being as something we can pursue, and create, collectively.