Tell Me More

Our homepage is a whimsical playground for many reasons. At ds4si we play with ideas, assumptions and possibilities in ways that we hope will jostle us (and our playmates) out of our old habits of thinking and doing. As Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” When we take on complex social problems, we glean inspiration from the possibilities explored through childhood imaginary games, from the passion inspired by sports, from the strategies developed in board and video games (including cheating), and from the emergent relationships—friends and enemies—conjured up on the school playground.

In many ways we think of social life—with all its complexity, vibrancy, and injustices—as a much larger and more complicated playground. Think of how as children we make believe that one house is haunted, how we make up our own worlds with friends, how we might, occasionally, do anything to win; we are practicing these elements of social life on the playground (and in all the liminal spaces we commandeer for play). As we get older and start to play with more and more people, the things we "make believe" grow and evolve. Instead of playing dress up with our mom or friends, we play in the realm of style and identity. The simple games from childhood become more complex interlocking games with much different stakes. And we get tricked into an ironic and tacit game rule of social life: that we are no longer simply playing. We are interested in cracking this tacit assumption, making possible our shared ability to imagine and play our ways out of situations, especially when the game of social life ceases to be fun for many of its participants.  

To do so, ds4si explores how our beliefs, imaginations, tacit and explicit agreements congeal into institutions, laws and cultural norms that give order—and disorder—to daily living. We play with how we can challenge assumptions and agreements when things start to go wrong in this large-scale playground of social life. We play in liminal, in-between spaces, inviting friends and superheroes who we know or don’t know. We play with artists whose work expands our imaginations, with cultural workers whose understandings have kept communities alive in the most dangerous games, and with systems gurus of all stripes, including writers, tricksters, clowns, and trouble makers who trouble the rules at play.

Explore our website to see some of our antics, and if you want to play with us, click here.