Prototype of our meme campaign to change norms

Here are a couple designs of stickers that we think may promote a norms change at Sloan with regard to printing more sustainably.

In one prototype, we use Hanson as a role model figure. We hope that the message “Hanson sees you” will mitigate the deindividuation that may promote students to print in a wasteful way.

We’re also curious to see how our target audience reacts to the message that implies that being wasteful is an HBS trait.



Levers of change and 10 ideas



– Make a Huge Bicycle that occupies the width of a car
– LED interface that communicates with the drivers
– Crowdsource data whether there is a bike lane or not
– Collect data on how people think on road and share them with others
– Ask them how the infrastructure will improve the current situation
– Guerrilla act on painting dangerous roads
– Guerrilla act on occupying parking lots with doorless objects
– Design a parking structure
– Close roads, make it a plaza where anyone can meet
– Put roof structure in intersections so that bikes and peds can avoid rain and snow

– Put signage showing the average speed of cars and bicycles (rush hour)
– Hobo signs for bikers
– Record accelerometer data to detect sudden bumps
– Detect ring bells to indicate the place is unsafe (recording sound)

Design Challenge

Design Challenge

How might we facilitate broader connections across separated subcommunities on university campuses?

Levers of Change

The challenge of facilitating broader connections on university campuses is hard. Regardless of what interventions we come up with, there will always be challenges of information overload, shyness, and time constraints.

We need to address the problem from multiple angles. The four levers of change are markets, law, norms, and code. MIT is trying to use the market lever with funding grants for events co-hosted by two or more student groups. Funding sources might also prioritize applications for events that benefit the wider community rather than a select group only.

College campuses uses law in different ways to create cross-group connections. MIT lets students choose their own living situation. This means that similar students live together, but also that students become friends across class years. Harvard, on the other hand, has freshman-only dorms. As a result, people who would otherwise end up in different cultural might still get to know each other.

Existing norms make people shy of talking to strangers, especially if they are not in the ‘in-group’. Norms include who it is okay to talk to, where it is okay to talk to someone, and what it is okay to talk about. First of all, interventions could directly try to change some of these norms. Secondly, interventions should be mindful of existing norms and make any expected individual action feel culturally acceptable.

Code defines what actions are possible and not, so it both enables and prevents interactions. Existing technologies have shaped norms for what interactions are normal. We are now more open to posting about our personal lives online. We might pull out our phones to snapchat a photo to a friend. I can use the code lever by for example creating a technology to either enable new types of interactions or push for a norms change.


  1. A single MIT Facebook group where anyone can post anything

  2. A variation of the Tell Me About Your Day (TMAYD) bracelets that e.g. are lit if turned on and turn off automatically after some time

  3. Something like mistletoe in public places where standing there means that you welcome conversation

  4. A chalk board with a daily question

  5. A Slack team for all of MIT where people self-select channels relevant to them

  6. Screens across campus that people can text messages to for display or local radio channel that anyone can send voice messages to

  7. A weekly community lunch with rules about being open to talking to strangers and providing mini-intros about your interests

  8. A campus scavenger hunt where individuals cannot choose their own teams and teams are made to be cross-departmental

  9. Have dorms host ‘come visit us’ events for the rest of campus to tear down some dorm cultural divisions

  10. A community image-based Reddit-like platform

Biking in Cambridge – Levers and Ideation

Levers of Change

1. Law

There are a number of ways in which the lever of law can be leveraged to improve and allow for enforcement of mechanisms that can ultimately ameliorate relationships and communication between commuters. In our ideation process, there are some interventions that fall under the umbrella of legal action (while sometimes intersecting with other levers simultaneously). For example, there could be a legal mandate for automakers to install a safety label or sticker on the car door that warns drivers to watch for bikes when opening their door and to open with their right hands. Another potential idea that falls somewhere in the middle of a legal and market-based lever is to encourage both positive environmental impact and empathy building through car insurance policy incentives: drivers could get a small reduction in their car insurance or rebate if they can prove (perhaps through an application) they have biked a certain number of days per month. The car insurance company can, in turn, be incentivized through government subsidies to encourage this action on their end. While this latter idea is perhaps politically less feasible, some iteration of it may perhaps be hypothetically more realistic and actionable.

2. Norms

In addition to the law-based lever of change, there are also a host of tools that aim to positively influence behavior and promote mutual understanding and respect through a norms-based lens. For example, an unspoken but verbal means to communicate and gradually shift norms can occur through the use of stickers on the back of vehicles and bicycles. In the same way that stickers like ‘baby on board’ effectively communicate a message and plea for safety to other drivers, a sticker on a car like ‘I see you’ and on a bicycle like ‘I am here’ can facilitate a two-way acknowledgement of one another’s existence. Another medium for shifting norms is through art installations. Drawing inspiration from the interactive ‘before I die, I want to ____’ walls around the world, we discussed how some art walls (either digital or not-digital) could be installed around dangerous intersections, which project and reveal the crowd-sourced thoughts of drivers and bikers (either digitally through submissions on an app or non-digitally through people actually physically writing on the wall) in order to build a visualization tool that can enhance empathy.

Norms can also be changed through the use of both positive and negative accountability means. For example, by leveraging a social media platform such as Instagram, an account (with hashtags and geo-referencing) can be created to, on the one hand, post photos of negative behavior (such as a photograph of a car parked in a bike lane) or positive behavior (such as effective signaling or interactions between drivers and bikers). Knowledge and awareness-building programs are other effective methods for shaping norms. In the case of our project, a micro knowledge-based intervention could be, for example, installations of statistics, facts, or stories about biker, pedestrian, and car accidents at gas pumps that drivers will see and read while filling their cars. In contrast, a wider-scale knowledge intervention could be that, in order for drivers to get an MIT (or other) parking pass/permit, they are required to attend a bicycle safety seminar or watch an instructional video, with a similar incentive structure program for bikers to also effectively learn the rules of the road.

3. Markets

The market can incentivize safe behavior on the road by creating rewards-based incentives for drivers and/or bikers. For example, similar to the process to become insured to operate a motorcycle, drivers could receive reduced insurance rates by completing a class on bike safety, or by operating a bicycle periodically (such as for a minimum amount of days per month). Likewise, market forces could be used to encourage biker-driver engagement, such as offering a discount on gas prices or bike accessories based on the amount and value of engagement between the two actors, as judged/measured through an app that connects them for dialogue.

4. Code

Code or technology embedded in the bike-car-pedestrian ecosystem can help to improve safety for the various actors. Sensors in the car can alert drivers when their proximity to a biker or pedestrian is too close, or a sensor linked to the door could even prevent passengers from opening their car doors when they may be in danger of “dooring” a bicyclist.


  1. Create stickers to put on the back of cars and bicycles (for example, sticker for driver: “I see you, bikers” and sticker for biker: “I am here” or “)
  2. Disperse safety labels that can be installed on the interior of car windows, which warn drivers to open the door with their right hand (thereby allowing them to see bikers who may be approaching in the lane / door zone) – known as the “Dutch Reach”
  3. Install interactive (digital or non-digital) art walls around problematic intersections to serve as a means to crowd-source stories and thoughts from drivers, bikers, and pedestrians (such as responses to the prompt “ When I saw you ______, I thought ____.” with reaction  “I did ____ because ____.”)
  4. Create a physical buffer zone add-on for bike which essentially communicate (through the design and/or direct words) “this is how much space I need to feel safe, thank you for respecting!”
  5. Leverage social-media platforms, such as Instagram, to crowdsource accountability and activism and allow for reporting infractions through geo-tagged photographs and hashtags
  6. Leverage social-media platforms, such as Instagram, to crowdsource a positive report repository, collecting stories of good interactions between drivers and bikers (also with hashtags and geotags)
  7. Visual “thank you” alert to drivers and/or pedestrians be activated by bikers while in motion (something beyond a wave)
  8. Using sensors (such as near the side mirrors), alert drivers when approaching bikes within the safe buffer zone, to increase awareness; make use of video screens (currently for backing up) when possible
  9. Incentivize drivers to experience biking by offering a reduction in car insurance costs if biking some number of days per month instead of driving (to build empathy among drivers and have positive environmental impact)
  10. For drivers ticketed for parking in bike lanes or other bike-related infractions, penalty includes taking a bike-safety related class / attending a meeting / doing an online training.
  11. Required attendance of a bike safety seminar (or other educational training) for MIT staff/faculty purchasing a parking pass.
  12. Create an application to connect and incentivize bikers and drivers for dialogue and discussion. Rewards will be unlocked for engagement; for example, if you match/connect with each other you get free coffee!
  13. Present a set of rotating facts or other information relating to biking and mixed use road safety at gas station pump stations.
  14. Install bike repair stations at gas stations to encourage increased biker and driver engagement.

Group Post by Roxanne, Rebecca, and James

Boston Comedy

Lack of diversity in the entertainment industry is an ongoing problem that has received increased media attention over the past few years through social media campaigns such as #OscarsSoWhite. Exploring the difficulties of being a woman in comedy provides one case study through which we can shed light on larger structural issues. Gender imbalances in the comedy community are disproportionately large compared to the rest of the entertainment industry: There has famously never been a woman late night host on a major network, sexism in writers’ rooms from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air to Saturday Night Live is well documented, and female-led comedies (which are already few and far between) are seen as extremely financially risky by many industry execs.

The stand-up comedy open mic scene serves as a breeding ground for future comedic talent (the Boston scene has produced such big names as Louis CK, Conan O’Brien, and Eugene Mirman). Thus, recognizing and addressing sexist elements of open mic culture serves as a bottom-up approach to addressing industry problems. Thus, my problem statement is: How do we create safe and welcoming spaces in Boston comedy open mics that will contribute to greater gender diversity in the local comedy scene as a whole?

1. Code

Comedians have been early adopters of many social media platforms from Twitter to Snapchat, seeing them as avenues for testing out new material and reaching new audiences. Yet instances of trolling, stalking, and harassment online are notoriously much higher for women than for men. Women in comedy are no strangers to these types of attacks, as evidenced by the incessant and privacy-violating trolling that recently drove comedian Leslie Jones to quit Twitter altogether ( Using code to create safer spaces for women in comedy could entail (1) building more effective tools for reporting and stopping online harassment and (2) protecting private online forums for women in comedy to share advice and support with one another (

2. Markets 

At the industry level, a market intervention would involve the funding of more comedy specials, films, and television shows starring women. The open mic scene, however, exists largely outside market logics.

3. Laws

Women in comedy perform in alcohol-serving, male-dominated spaces. Reports of gendered verbal and sexual harassment in the comedy community are unnervingly common yet often get brushed under the rug. In an ideal world, legal action would be taken against all male comedians that break the law. Furthermore, male allies would care more about their female peers’ wellbeing than their own careers. (

4. Norms

Comedians at open mics must discourage and condemn sexist jokes from their peers. Furthermore, people that organize local shows must make a conscious effort to book more women and fewer (zero) sexist men.

Design ideas

  1. Online system for reporting sexist behavior at open mics
  2. Social media groups dedicated to local comedy ran and moderated by women and allies
  3. Local publications running ads for inclusive open mics and shows
  4. Private social network for underrepresented members of the comedy community
  5. More events/shows/festivals directly targeting non-male audiences
  6. More events/shows that combine comedy with other, more inclusive performing arts (music, theater)
  7. Community-led mentorship programs
  8. Yelp-style “inclusivity ratings” for open mics and shows
  9. Existing organizations for Boston women in comedy (such as Boston Comedy Chicks) could directly sponsor specific open mics
  10. Online network connecting female comedians in Boston to comedians in other cities with more inclusive comedy scenes (such as New York or L.A.)

Inclusivity is Not a Word

How might we promote inclusivity within the diverse community of the Media Lab so that everyone feels safe and comfortable?

Laws – Norms – Markets – Technology

The four levers of change are law, norms, markets, and technology. In implementing social change around inclusivity at the Media Lab, markets is perhaps the most difficult to apply. The economic forces within the Media Lab include the money that its members are paid and the availability of benefits such  as free coffee, discounted food, and funded events.  Using market levers of change in this situation could involve giving more of these benefits as incentives or removing them as consequences.

Speak of “consequences” leads to the next difficult lever of change: laws. Laws that create inclusivity start with a statement that defines what behaviors are expected and what behaviors are prohibited at the Lab. This social contract would have to provide language about what happens if the contract is broken. Designing this social contract would need to include input from the entire lab in order to become something that is supported by all.

Norms may be the most straightforward way to create inclusivity at the lab. Examples of norms and inclusivity are evident in many of the work around diversity currently being done at the Lab. There is an unspoken societal norm that discriminative things are not okay, however, there is also a norm at the Lab where students are afraid to speak up. Since this social change is primarily based around the way that people behave, norms could be the most powerful way of addressing the root causes of the problem.

Finally, there is addressing the problem through technology. Communication is another way to address the problem of inclusivity and technology can facilitate communication in ways that normal social interactions do not allow. By creating opportunities and a space for conversation technology allows the problem to be addressed more quickly than it would if we started working on changing the norm of the Media Lab.

Crazy Ideas

  1. Create a social contract of inclusivity with members of the Lab (law)
  2. Given a social contract, penalize paychecks for infractions (law/market)
  3. Provide free monthly small group lunches where students are randomly paired for lunch (market)
  4. Have members of the Lab give 5-minute talks about their perspective on inclusivity (norms)
  5. Make learning about inclusivity a requirement for acceptance/hiring (law)
  6. Balance the power distribution (e.g. student-professor, student-student) so that no one is afraid to speak up (law)
  7. Allow unions in the Media Lab (norms? law?)
  8. Make diversity information available on the Lab website, so that everyone understands where everyone is coming from (tech)
  9. Create an anonymous blog with anonymized entries that allows people to report inclusivity infringements, also allowing them to communicate with who/whatever they are implicating (tech)
  10. Allow honest questions to be asked about our differences, preferably in person. (Make this a resource that is available online so FAQs can be saved?) (norms, tech?)

Side note: The title was a matter of serendipity. As I was writing this post, my spellchecker highlighted the word “inclusivity”, stating that it was not a real world. It helpfully suggested, “Did you mean exclusivity?”

Leveraging and ideating

By Josh Cowls and Dishita Turakhia

Using the four levers

In principle, the design challenge we face is conducive to pulling all four levers of change, to varying degrees. At root, our range of solutions are all fundamentally technological in character. In fact, each of our potential solutions align with Larry Lessig’s original conception of the fourth modality of constraint, what he initially dubbed “architecture: the constraint of the world as I find it, even if this world as I find it is a world that others have made”. In one sense, our challenge is to reinvent the architecture within which students interact on campus in physical terms. Yet the challenge also has a virtual dimension, one which we plan to exploit through code: perhaps by exploring algorithmic approaches to the dissemination of information. As such, our challenge invites solutions which meld physical and virtual components of architecture.

Another major lever for us to pull is law. In our discussions with student groups, there appears to be a strong, well-defined protocol by which space can be reserved on campus, for both stalls in lobby areas, and on walls for posters. Part of our approach, if implemented, would require us to at least understand these regulations, and perhaps seek to modify them: allowing, for example, more groups to be represented at peak times, or changing the process by which poster space is allocated.

Related to this potential change in law is a modification of norms. Students we spoke to had a clear sense of what different spaces on campus were ‘for’, which suggests that any changes we seek to make would need to be reinforced by encouraging new norms around interaction. In our interview exercise, it often felt like we were violating existing norms just by attempting to talk to students walking through the Infinite Corridor, so strong is the conception of the Corridor as solely a conduit for (ideally uninterrupted) movement across campus. Clearly, then, for students to benefit from the interventions we propose, we would need to consider how best to adapt norms to suit the modified environment.

Finally, there is the market lever to consider. As with architecture above, we can bifurcate this lever into a literal and a figurative direction. In a more literal sense, some of our grander ideas for intervention (such as decking out the walls of the Infinite Corridor in digital screens) would benefit from an (ideally infinite) cash injection to make it possible. As such, we would need to engage with the ‘market’ of potential funding sources to secure financial viability for the project. Yet in a more figurative sense, we might use the ‘market’ as a way of thinking about attention as a scarce resource, and the spaces in which we will intervene as the marketplace in which this attention is fought for.

Ideation for Interaction and information exchange as an “experience”
1. Convert lobby 10 into a pop-up info cafe zone – making the space more fun experience where students can hang out and not just rush through
2. Have fun booths placed at different locations – where students can spend few minutes for relaxing/chilling/playing games and get information about events on campus
3. Gamification of posters – posters with maximum “reads” would get rewards that are shared with the readers (rewards could be cookies or candies)
4. Using VR/AR to make digital information exchange – example – make a Pokemon Go version of posters, events etc – while navigating through campus, events pop up
5. Incentivize spreading information through word of mouth through some gamification – maybe a “information chinese whispers” – helps promote socially interaction
6. poster hacks – instead of using regular posters which don’t get read, advertise through clever products in built environment – (example information on some lab working on water purification can be displayed near water coolers)
7. Pictionary like mystery posters – no words – only graphics to convey messages – to invoke curiosity among readers who can try to guess what the poster is trying to convey – can scan the QR code and read the message
8. Make conduits – corridors + staircases + elevators – as spaces for exchanging information innovatively
9. Interactive digital screens replacing poster boards
10. celebrating one day on campus where lab – spaces, classrooms, faculty rooms etc are exchanged – so every person gets a glimpse of what is being worked on in an unknown part or never accessed before part of the campus

Undergraduates and news information

What appears as being the hardest lever to pull in our case would be the one concerning laws. For our problem it seems a hardly accurate way of intervening, except if we interpret law as the code of conduct of MIT, or as the « constitution » of the school. In this case, we could make the very fact of being informed and knowing a fair amount of news information mandatory. We could then measure compliance to this « law » by making students take an exam, for example twice a semester, with basic questions about what is happening in the outside world. A good score on the test would have positive consequences on a student’s GPA, and a bad one penalize them. Such a method sounds overly harsh, though. However, it is true that the incentives would definitely force compliance to the newly implemented rule.

As for market based levers of change, this seems quite hard to find as well. We could definitely turn to outside actors, meaning news outlets and let them compete to gain MIT students audience. This would probably raise the number of available free subscriptions for students. However we cannot be sure that the students will actually read the available material – which would leave the situation as it is today. Also, it is not likely that these news outlets would be interested in MIT students as a way to increase their readership / prospective readership.

When it comes to norms, we could increase overall visibility of world events and news on campus. In increasing overall visibility, we would probably have an effect on awareness, and this increased awareness could spark discussions. This could be considered as a normative change. However increasing visibility could also be tied to the use of the technological lever. We could, for example, use the big TV screens in the hallways. Have news booths distributing newspapers for free around the hallways. Broadcasting radio stations in the infinite. However, we also argue that bombarding students with information would probably be quite useless if the information we provide them with is not compelling nor curated, hence irrelevant to them.

This ties closely, as we said, to the technological lever that could address this problem of curating information. By choosing accurate radio stations or TV stations to broadcast in the hallways as we said above, for example. But also by creating email lists to which students could suscribe – or would be suscribed by default. In general, by making their interests and needs of news at the center of the design, or more precisely what they need in the news. We could design a platform such as an app, or a website that curates available news from different news outlets and helps them filtering according to the time they have available [like the amount of minutes of each read], or the questions they are asking themselves over certain events.

As for possible designs:

+Put up posters around the school

+Change the TV screens to show current events

+Ask students to sumbit things they value, ranked in top 3

+Create something as a fact of the day promotion

+Create contests –> guess a random metric related to current events

+Create event series for students to discuss new events

+Create a student club

+Crate a curating device ( app or website)

+Create a newsletter / newsletters that can be chosen

+Have speakers broadcasting radio in the hallway


Digital change at The Boston Globe

Levers of change

  1. Markets

People more often consume news in digital. This is the market and this is the demand – although not so profitable as print used to be. Sometimes it may look like a dead end. The audience is in digital but not money. To use this lever of change we have to look for sustainable business models. Digital advertising is not a solution (85% of digital advertising revenues go to Facebook or Google. Print dollars have been exchanged for digital pennies). The solution is the subscription model in which the Globe is heading. People are willing to pay only for high quality, unique and exclusive journalism.

  1. Code

As one of our interviewees said “Our Content Management System is print focused. It is designed for print”. CMS needs to be changed to include digital. Developers should be part of the newsroom working shoulder to shoulder with journalists. In digital story determines form. This is the reason why developers should be part of the newsroom to help to forge the best form to tell a story when it brakes.

  1. Law

Change editors’ and journalists’ contracts specifying their digital duties (e.g. every reporter is obliged to deliver minimum 10 tweets in connection of a story he/she works on). Also how to fight against ‘parasitic news’ aggregators.

  1. Norms

It is evident that audiences are less likely to consume news using non-traditional tool. This then calls for a norms change in terms of how journalists gather news, interact with their audiences. Studies have shown how some journalists who were early adopoters of social media are disengaging from it. How do you keep journalists engaged with and increasingly embracing new ways of gathering news and telling stories



  1. Digital desk in the heart of the newsroom. Digital editors decide what to cover.
  2. Print desk in the corner of the newsroom. Print is not allowed to submit stories only for print.
  3. Editors’ and journalists’ contracts specifying their digital duties (e.g. every reporter is obliged to deliver minimum 10 tweets in connection of a story he/she works on).
  4. Morning meeting starts with overview of digital work done by our competitors
  5. Weekly awards for journalists for digital innovation and inspiration
  6. Field trips to digital first media outlets
  7. New technology to facilitate easy transition to digital
  8. Interaction between digital first and legacy journalists
  9. Explore more options for revenue generation using non-traditional methods
  10. The audience as the reporter

Robert & Chisomo