The talk is based on a book chapter with the same title that will be published by Monash University Publishing in the fall. A preprint of this chapter can be downloaded here. Thanks to the students for all your great questions. If there’s any more, feel free to post them here as comments.
Open innovation is about crossing boundaries to create networked synergies in/across collaborative communities. Conversations are the lifeblood of communities, building the common ground of shared meanings, beliefs, interests, norms, goals, trust and social capital. A fundamental challenge for open innovation lies in the successful crafting of the social media systems supporting the community conversations. Innovation communities (which are not limited to business interests but also include public and civic organizations and communities) therefore need to continuously make sense of the conversation context of the tools they use. We provide a conceptual lens with which to examine this socio-technical conversation context. We illustrate the use of this lens with a plausible scenario of open innovation in the societal stakeholder networks around climate change research.
On November 5, the Swedish Open Innovation Forum organized a “Managing Open Innovation Technologies” workshop at Uppsala University, to present and discuss state-of-the-art research insights into open innovation & social media and for authors working on an anthology on this topic to get feedback on their draft chapters. It was a very lively meeting, generating lots of ideas for new research. Concluding, it was clear there’s still a very long way to go for social media to realize their full potential in this domain.
At the workshop, I gave a keynote on social media systems design for open innovation communities:
After that, my good friend and co-author Mark Aakhus (Rutgers University, USA), reflected upon what I said. Mark wasn’t physically present, but participated from his study at his home in New Jersey, 6000 km away. Of course, I have been in many videoconferencing sessions, but normally these are cumbersome events, requiring lots of high tech, special rooms, microphones, cameras and what not. However, this time none of this was needed. All we used was a Mac and Skype. As Mark was presenting, he was displayed larger-than-life on the main screen using the projector:
Reception was crystal clear, he could hear everything being said, even in the back of the room. Things really got weird after he was finished. The laptop was left on the table, and Mark’s image removed from the screen when other people used it to present their Powerpoints. However, once in a while, suddenly, the laptop started speaking, as Mark commented on something being said. The funny thing was that we all quickly got used to that situation, looking at and talking to a laptop as if it were a human being. Still, sometimes, Mark/the laptop would suddenly make a sound, and the whole flow of the conversation was disrupted, nobody quite sure what to make of it. A very strange and powerful experience of, literally, “extreme computer-mediated communication”!
Collaborative communities often make use of complex tool systems. In these systems, work gets fragmented over many tools, often halting communication. We discuss online community activation in terms of the Language/Action Perspective, and its more recent offshoot, the Pragmatic Web. We propose collaboration patterns for defining high-level socio-technical design solutions for activation problems. We illustrate the approach using examples from a digital tutorial case.
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