Tag Archives: social innovation

Stoves and Service

Two bits of Bucknell News intersect with some of my interests.

First, the “Service” movement for lack of a better term continues with BU showing up at an interfaith call to service the white house.  I like how food is being incorporated thematically.  We live in an agricultural area.  Plus, wasting less is just good old fashioned American thriftiness.

In contrast, students in a spring 2011 waste audit found that about 850 pounds of food per day were being discarded in Bucknell’s main dining venue, Bostwick Marketplace. Bucknell Dining has addressed the waste issue in part through a composting program and the removal of trays, but, Fujita said, there are more opportunities to help students learn about consumption and waste.

I am not sure how no trays cuts down on waste.  People take less?

I wish there were some legal/organizational way to share unused food.  People usually say they can’t give it away due to safety regulations.  Well, then, is it possible to shield more food from being un-givable?  DO we need to shift attitudes about abundant food spreads?  Or, is it possible to have a way for recipients to agree to take on the risk of food problems in exchange for access to mostly fine food?  A way to have a middleman broker of unused food?
Second, in the general theme of experiential education that links service and this story,  we have BU students working with a local manufacturer to see a super-light-weight stove come to market.  What if this was the norm instead of the exception for our students? I don’t mean they all design objects, but that they all do a project with real world potential value before they graduate.  What would that look like?  Would it produce a generation of hackers, entrepreneurs, and “makers.”

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Filed under Hacker ethic, higher education

Social Entrepreneurs, Networks, and Technology

I am revising a draft of a paper about social entrepreneurs to give at EGOS.

Here is the core idea:

Broadly, I am trying to connect what is known about the research into new forms of organizing with internet with innovation and networks studies

Some baseline assumptions:

1) Innovators and entrepreneurs of any flavor are in a brokerage position and they engage in brokering behavior.   (Research by Burt, Obstfeld, Gargiulo, Hargadon comes to mind… I need to find others).

2) New ICT changes make #1 different.  Easier in some ways, harder in others.

3) Social entrepreneurs face special circumstances due to value orientation they use.  Social entrepreneurs solve social problems or market failures.  They move towards a new equilibrium.  The “social” of what they do emerges from social change processes unfolding in networks organizations, and institutions of contested agendas (or, formerly contested and now newly legitimate.  These include poverty reduction, public health, green design, education access, rural development, climate change, and so on.  Looks like usual suspects of civil society concerns.  But of course, it should.)

4) The process is usually gradual (uniform)- incremental innovations and experiments accumulate into profound change.  The initial recognition can then lead to rapid scaling and diffusion.

5)  To fully conceptualize the problem, we need to draw on four research streams: 1) entrepreneurship, 2) networks and innovation, 3) social movements, and 4) technology and socity.

6) A research agenda based on the assumptions and findings includes three questions:

  • 1) Do new technologies, by lowering search and coordination costs for actors, spawn more emerging or possible social entrepreneurs (as in, that is their intention)?
  • 2) Do technologies, through their ability to foster relations and community, create new value propositions?  Transparency, memory, search, and interactivity mean that thick webs of relations, which people value, can create new opportunities for social innovation or entrepreneurship.
  • 3) The same properties that create more potential social entrepreneurs and opportunities will also pose new start-up challenges because soc entrepreneurswill be more tied to the necessary networks and institutions that create legitimacy for the social of social entrepreneurs.

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Filed under activism, innovation, organization studies, organization theory, participatory technology, social innovation, Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship [SiSe], technology

Living Web Social Innovation

Yesterday, I listened to most of Nick Yeo’s conversation over at the social innovation center’s conversations network.  He is the communications director for Taking ITGlobal, a youth- and development-oriented social networking pllatform.

One thing that stood out (and that I think Vishant might like) is that he discussed how they discovered that their users in places like Africa were often huddled five or six aroudn a computer using the site, and they thought of ways to cross leverage that liittle face2face net with the networking of their platform.

Their official elevator pitch:

TakingITGlobal.org is an online community that connects youth to find inspiration, access information, get involved, and take action in their local and global communities. It’s the world’s most popular online community for young people interested in making a difference, with hundreds of thousands of unique visitors each month.

The other link is to google.org.   Read this in Fast Company’s Fast list for 2008.  They seem to combine corporate philanthropy, R&D, and wiki-type decision making (letting lots of people propose and rank ideas for grants and investing).  Also interesting to see that Hal Varian, whose book Network Rules was one of the better strategy books i read at IESE, is their chief economist.

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Filed under activism, digital culture, Network Society, Networks, participatory technology, Politics, Power, Activism, social bookmarking