Archive for February, 2010

Assessing the impact of Social Innovation

February 28, 2010

I carried out some pilot research last year for NESTA Connect on collaborative innovation with Dr Alain Samson at the LSE. One of the areas we looked at as part of our thin slice was Social Innovation 2.0 (e.g. where Web 2.0 meets Open Collaboration), which has captured the imagination of various funding bodies and institutions. Social Reporter David Wilcox had kindly mentioned a video about the social entrepreneur landscape from the 2gether08 gathering, and it was interesting to hear an admission that there’s a danger of a Fools’ Gold Rush where from time to time you get social entrepreneurs crowding in to do something that look goods at the time, but doesn’t turn out to exceed expectations. (more…)


Jaron Lanier talks about the failure of web 2.0

February 28, 2010

Great little podcast interview with ‘digital guru’ Jaron Lanier from The Guardian last week, which seems to reiterate some of the points made in the When the net’s wisdom of crowds turns into an online lynch mob article I mentioned in my earlier post (see here) – particularly as far as pack mentality and cyber-bulkanization are concerned. (more…)

When the net’s wisdom of crowds turns into an online lynch mob

February 28, 2010

Interesting article in The Observer today by James Harkin, author of the soon to be published Cyburbia: the Dangerous Idea That’s Changing How We Live and Who We Are. It discusses how the internet’s great advantages – speed, access and shared communication – can also have drawbacks, as Richard Dawkins found out last week. It’s not hugely surprising that James Surowiecki’s The Wisdom of Crowds meme has a flipside as the title of his book was a nod to Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds written over 160 years earlier. Since then there’s be a whole load of other popular delusions ending in tears, not least being the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the Dotbomb. Who knows perhaps the hype surrounding Web 2.0 will in time also be seen as just another bubble, with ironically Surowiecki being one of the principle cheerleaders. (more…)

Why debatorium?

February 28, 2010

Well, firstly I was struggling to think of name for a blog, which could act as a repository for my bookmarks. It also follows on from a Facebook group I set-up in early 2009 called debatable, which was an attempt to use crowdsourcing for an article I was asked to write for iMedia Connection about Twitter (see Twittering or twattering? Our survey says…). Actually, the ‘experiment’ proved to be a lot more time consuming than if I’d written it unaided, but the debate that ensued was a lot of fun; and I got some great quotes, including the following one from my wife’s cousin:

“Didn’t Nietzsche say, ‘Soon everyone will learn to read and write, and that will be the death of language’? Brilliantly offensive. I’m sure he had Twitter in mind. The morbidly self-obsessed screeching to the morbidly self-obsessed in bite-sized chunks.”

Nothing like having a contribution from an Oxbridge philosophy PhD to stir things up, and he also introduced me to Neil Postman’s book Amusing Ourselves to Death, which is very much appreciated as it showed me that there’s a history of critical analysis as far as technological progress/techno-determinism, is concerned. This was important discovery because I couldn’t help thinking that ‘the conversation’ about Web 2.0 and the open/free culture moment was getting caught up in a vortex of self-affirming opinion, and as General Patton once said:

“If everyone is thinking the same thing, someone is not thinking?”

I also hope this ‘research’ exercise will introduce new voices and re-introduce some old ones, bringing different perspectives to the table, particularly regarding the discussion of ways in which technology can help us be more connected and collaborative – for better or for worse!