Social Computing
Creating sociotechnical systems that shape our urban environments.

We build software that shapes our cities.

More specifically, (1) we create micro-institutions in physical space, (2) we design social processes that allow others to replicate and evolve those micro-institutions, and (3) we write software that enables those social processes.

We use this process to create more robust, decentralized, human-scale systems in our cities. We are particularly focused on reinventing our current systems for learning, agriculture, and transportation.

Research Projects

  • Microculture

    Josh Sarantitis, Sepandar Kamvar, Yonatan Cohen, Kathryn Grantham and Lisa DePiano

    Microculture gardens are a network of small-scale permaculture gardens that are aimed at reimagining our urban food systems, remediating our air supply, and making our streets more amenable to human-scale mobility. Microculture combines micro-gardening with the principles of permaculture, creatively occupying viable space throughout our communities for small-scale self-sustaining food forests. Micro-gardens have proven to be successful for the production of a broad range of species, including leafy vegetables, fruit, root vegetables, herbs, and more. Traditionally, container-based micro-gardens occupy approximately one meter of space or less and are made from found, up-cycled materials. Our innovations involve the combining of permaculture and micro-gardening principles, developing materials and designs that allow for modularity, mobility, easy replicability, placement in parking spots, and software that supports the placement, creation, and maintenance of these gardens.

  • Storyboards

    Sepandar Kamvar, Kevin Slavin, Jonathan Bobrow and Shantell Martin

    Giving opaque technology a glass house, Storyboards present the tinkerers or owners of electronic devices with stories of how their devices work. Just as the circuit board is a story of star-crossed lovers—Anode and Cathode—with its cast of characters (resistor, capacitor, transistor), Storyboards have their own characters driving a parallel visual narrative.

  • The Dog Programming Language

    Salman Ahmad and Sep Kamvar

    Dog is a new programming language that makes it easy and intuitive to create social applications. A key feature of Dog is built-in support for interacting with people. Dog provides a natural framework in which both people and computers can be sent requests and return results. It can perform a long-running computation while also displaying messages, requesting information, or sending operations to particular individuals or groups. By switching between machine and human computation, developers can create powerful workflows and model complex social processes without worrying about low-level technical details.

  • Wildflower Montessori

    Sep Kamvar, Kim Smith, Yonatan Cohen, Kim Holleman, Nazmus Saquib, Caroline Jaffe

    Wildflower is an open-source approach to Montessori learning. Its aim is to be an experiment in a new learning environment, blurring the boundaries between home-schooling and institutional schooling, between scientists and teachers, between schools and the neighborhoods around them. At the core of Wildflower are nine principles that define the approach. The Wildflower approach has been implemented by several schools, which serve as a research platform for the development of Montessori materials that advance the Montessori Method, software tools that enable Montessori research, and social software that fosters the growth and connection of such schools.

  • You Are Here

    Sep Kamvar, Yonatan Cohen, Wesam Manassra, Pranav Ramkrishnan, Stephen Rife, Jia Zhang, Edward Faulkner, Kim Smith, Asa Oines, Jake Sanchez, and Jennifer Jang

    You Are Here is an experiment in microurbanism. In this project, we are creating 100 maps each of 100 different cities. Each map gives a collective portrait of one aspect of life in the city, and is designed to give communities meaningful micro-suggestions of what they might do to improve their city. The interplay between the visualizations and the community work they induce creates a collective, dynamic, urban-scale project.