Meaningful Inefficiencies: Civic Design in an age of Digital Expediency with Gabriel Mugar

Public trust in the institutions that mediate civic life—from governing bodies to newsrooms—is low, and many organizations assume that greater efficiency will build trust. As a result, these organizations are quick to adopt new technologies to enhance what they do. However, efficiency, in the sense of charting a path to a goal with the least amount of friction, is not always built on a foundation of trust. Meaningful Inefficiencies is about the practices that challenge the normative applications of “smart technologies” in order to build or repair trust with publics. It reveals how practitioners are adopting principles of play and care to invite a diversity of publics to participate in governance or narrative setting. Based on over 60 interviews with change makers in public-serving organizations throughout the United States, as well as detailed case studies, co-authors Eric Gordon and Gabriel Mugar provide a practical and deeply philosophical picture of civic life in transition.

Gabriel Mugar is a Senior Design Researcher at the global design consultancy IDEO as well as the founder of the Transformative Culture Project, a Boston-based youth arts organization. He specializes in working with communities and organizations to design opportunities for learning, collaboration, and storytelling.