Open Social Mapping: Participatory Modeling of Social Systems

Format: Papers, RSD8, Topic: Mapping & Modelling, Topic: Methods & Methodology

Author: Ryan Murphy, Jennifer DeCoste & Heather Laird

Open Social Mapping is an emerging paradigm for stakeholder engagement in systemic design projects. It combines actor mapping, network modelling and analysis, customer relationship management systems, and crowdsourcing in a method that allows stakeholders to map themselves within a system. Based on observations of some early examples of this tool and two case studies led by the authors, we describe some of the opportunities and challenges of Open Social Mapping. Open Social Maps re-center the stakeholder in the systemic design process, helping designers make data-driven decisions with real-time data while decentralizing systemic design by facilitating stakeholder access and agency to the design process. However, we must address issues of data collection and maintenance, privacy, power and privilege, bad actors, interoperability, and information quality for this tool to become mainstream.

Citation Data

Author(s): OCTOBER 2019
Title: Open Social Mapping: Participatory Modeling of Social Systems
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Article No.:
Symposium Dates:
First published: 4 October 2019
Last update:
Publisher Identification:

Copyright Information

Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (ISSN 2371-8404) are published annually by the Systemic Design Association, a non-profit scholarly association leading the research and practice of design for complex systems: 3803 Tønsberg, Norway (922 275 696).


Open Access article published under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License. This permits anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or form according to the licence terms.

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Author(s). (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design, RSD##. Article ##.

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Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design are published online and include the contributions for each format.

Papers and presentations are entered into a single-blind peer-review process, meaning reviewers see the authors’ names but not vice versa. Reviewers consider the quality of the proposed contribution and whether it addresses topics of interest or raises relevant issues in systemic design. The review process provides feedback and possible suggestions for modifications.

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Peter Jones
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In 2022, the Systemic Design Association adopted the scholars spiral—a cyclic non-hierarchical approach to advance scholarship—and in 2023, launched Contexts—The Systemic Design Journal. Together, the RSD symposia and Contexts support the vital emergence of supportive opportunities for scholars and practitioners to publish work in the interdisciplinary field of systemic design.

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