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“consider how you can design with instead of designing for.”


Nervous laughter fills the air as a box of surgical masks is passed. Everyone is instructed to take one and place it over their mouths. With masks in position, the group of 12 is quickly ushered into an elevator. After a few moments there is a jolt — the doors open and everyone slowly funnels out. The seventh floor of the New School has been transformed into a sci-fi world. Debris covers the ground, and strange sounds echo down the halls. A lone girl staggers forward, her face concealed by a long mane of black hair. With head hung down and bloody tissues clenched tightly in each of her fists, she stops directly in front of us. Over the next 60 minutes our group will step into an experience called My Sky Is Falling. Guided by immersive performances and sensor technologies (everyone wears a bracelet that takes emotional arousal measurements — heart rate, skin conductance and motion), participants uncover a dystopian sci-fi tale that acts as a metaphor for the real-world experience of aging out of foster care. The data collected is the foundation for a framework that strives to create empathy, measure social impact and drive engagement using technology.

An experiment in purposeful storytelling, My Sky Is Falling raises an interesting design question: by designing “with” instead of “for,” is it possible to build better social services? Co-founder of Orange Duffel Bag Initiative Echo Garrett says, “Every year, 30,000 youth age out of foster care, typically when they turn 18. Within a two-year period, up to 70 percent will experience homelessness. More than 70 percent of those in prison report having spent time in foster care or homeless shelters as children. The cost of incarcerating a youth can be anywhere from $40,000 to $140,000 per year. Foster youth experience high rates of domestic violence, sexual trafficking and early death, often by suicide. You can’t put a number on the societal impact of this devastating loss of human potential.” It’s a wicked problem that is aggravated by a foster care system that came of age in the 20th century and is now struggling to adapt to the connected realities of the 21st.

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In “40 days of dating,” a hybrid storytelling project that mixes online and offline, two friends who fail at love experiment with dating each other. Well designed and compelling the project quickly became a viral sensation landing the couple an agent and potential film, tv and book deal.

An Internet project that seems tailor made to be turned into a romantic comedy may actually become one. Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman—who created the popular site “40 Days of Dating”—have signed with CAA, The Wrap’s Jeff Sneider reports.

Walsh and Goodman were two friends with differing relationship problems who decided, as something of an experiment, to date each other for 40 days and record their experiences. The site, which has been updating Monday through Friday starting July 10, chronicles each day of their project via a questionnaire that they filled out. The two learn about one another, fight, deal with health problems, have sex.

In the about section of the site they write: “It’s been said that it takes 40 days to change a bad habit. In an attempt to explore and hopefully overcome their fears and inadequacies, Tim and Jessica will go through the motions of a relationship for the next 40 days: the commitment, time, companionship, joys and frustrations. ” The two also set rules for themselves which include that they will go on at least three dates a week and see a couples therapist.

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FastCo has a write up on Jason Blum producer of horror franchises Paranormal Activity, Insidious and most recently the Purge (a sequel is currently in the works). Later this fall, his company Blumhouse Productions will stage an immersive version of the Purge in LA enabling fans to step into a prequel of sorts. Blum explains…

The Purge: Fear The Night bills itself as “a brand-new, immersive theatrical horror experience” and runs in Los Angeles from September 27 through November 2. And while Blum says, “It’s not really a prequel,” it definitely builds on the mythology laid out in the film–which also currently has a sequel in development. “We’re expanding on the idea of what was in the movie,” he says. “It’s an idea that you can hang a lot of different kinds of stories on.” Blum has big ambitions for The Purge–“The idea of ‘what if crime were legal for 12 hours a year’ lends itself to a lot of different things: sequels, live events, it would be a great series at some point,” he says. And for Fear The Night, he’s brought on the team who did the New York haunted house “Blackout”–described by Cracked as “The World’s Most Hardcore Haunted House”–to develop the experience. He talked with Co.Create about how to expand the creative possibilities of a narrative universe by jumping to a different medium.

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