SVA’s program, which launches this fall, is one of the only graduate-level programs in the U.S. that’s focused on interaction design, now seen by companies as a necessary strategic tool. Or as Danzico puts it: “business success depends on the presence of a well-designed, engaging experience.” Danzico highlighted some innovative experiences that prove the power of the people can actually help to build stronger companies in what she calls the “participation economy”:
Twitter: The ease with which users can post and disseminate ideas actually creates trends and narratives that can be harnessed into great informational resources like the Twitter Election 2008 page or engaging “games” like the popular user-contributed site When Obama Wins.
The 9th Ward Field of Dreams: Brian Bordainick built a Web site to solicit funds for a new football field in a neighborhood decimated by Katrina. Currently they’ve raised money about half the funds in a prime example of harnessing the power of the participation economy for good.
User Voice: Self-billed as the “fastest way to turn feedback into innovation,” User Voice is like a Digg for customer service that allows users to post new ideas for your company, then vote on those ideas.
Zappos: Another company we’ve talked about before, the online retailer Zappos extends the participation economy to the employees. Their Culture Book, written by employees, teaches new staffers about corporate culture through the words of those creating it.
Wikipedia: Of course this is the best example of a participation economy, but Wikipedia is also a really good example of what can happen when users are disenfranchised by their own community. Awhile back, Wikipedia’s overlords actually rejected the article on content strategy. Ironic, isn’t it?
Blurb and Etsy: These two sites made for creatives to showcase and sell their wares–Blurb (print on demand books) and Etsy (handmade goods)–are made even more robust by interfaces designed by Rebecca Hodgson that allow complete customization for sellers to create the best online experiences for their customers, putting even more control in their hands.