The Show - A 2014 IAP Project

December 20, 2013

This Project is Now Published as an MIT IAP Project


MIT Sloan Fellow Stephanie Rowe, and MIT Media Lab's Dazza Greenwood are collaborating on development of an MIT Independent Activity Period (IAP) project to produce an online participatory "show" focused on design and innovation. This project activity will be offered by the Media Lab and designed to draw from several disciplines and parts of the MIT community.  The theme of the IAP show is "Social Physics" which is a new big data concept coined by Professor Sandy Pentland who heads the Human Dynamics group of the MIT Media Lab. Social Physics is the title of Professor Pentland's forthcoming book. Specific topics for exploration during the IAP project will include content posted the MIT Media Lab Social Physics website.



The intention of using this "show" format is to intelligently combine and orchestrate common video, social and collaborative blogs, apps and services to develop a creative, enjoyable and productive method and mechanism that:

1. Enables and catalyses the open, public and free development and sharing of ideas;

2. Stimulates fresh thinking and potential new approaches to issues by highlighting examples of talented individuals and teams who have solved challenges and by exploring how their creative solutions came about and were successfully applied;

3. Promotes the formation of inter-disciplinary, cross-functional and otherwise diverse individuals, groups and organizations toward the end of boosting innovation.

4. Recognizes top creative contributions by Participants that solve a design challenge each episode of the show;


Creative Commons free licenses, open source software licenses will be used to cover all video segments, written content, software and other intellectual property contributed to the show by participants, unless otherwise agreed and approved by the MIT Media Lab.

The show concept is extrapolated from the "variety show" model leveraging participatory rather than passive viewing capabilities of the Internet. The format is being designed to enable extensible mixing and matching of content from multiple hosts of affiliated segments and is comprised of video episodes. During IAP, we may do one or a small number of episodes using the following structure: Each episode will be comprised of short "concept overview" segments, interviews with notable innovators, demos of notable innovations, small group discussions and "how to" segments describing ways to use innovation tools and methods to help spark participant engagement. The episodes comprising the overall show will be centered upon a Design Challenge inviting individuals or teams develop and presentation candidate design solutions to a "problems statement" related to Social Physics. Participatory functions and features of the show concept collaborative services and tools such as Twitter, Google Hangouts, GitHub and some custom features on a project Wordpress blog and/or Drupal site. This project carries forward prior participatory online "eCitizenSalons" and the Legal Hack-a-Thon produced at the time of IAP early in 2013. If successful, there may be future episodes and segments looking at other aspects the business, legal ,technical and cultural facets of innovation and design.

The IAP in-person meetings will be scheduled based upon availability of participants and will focus on pre-production, production and post-production of the video and live participatory segments of the show. It is expected that the scope and time allocations associated with this project will be agreed based upon the time, resources and interests of the participants. It is envisioned that at minimum, a handful of in-person project meetings will be hosted at the MIT Media Lab through the month of January and most of the engagement and contribution to creating the show will occur via online project sites and services. The top videos will be published at the website for this project, currently hosted at Top videos will be selected based upon ratings of participants in this projects and by a panel of invited experts.

The way of understanding, engaging and thriving in a big data described by the new concept of Social Physics is as powerful as it is timely. As a special incentive and anchor point to the topic, Professor Pentland has generously agreed to help judge the top final video segments resulting from this project and, if appropriate, to include some of the video at the Media Lab Social Physics website.

For more information on this project, please consult this web page and our project blog for the show. Feel free to pose questions, comments or ideas at our contact page.

Check out the IAP registry of activities to signup!