Createdestruct (I). Juan Freire: building a culture for social innovation

Notes from the Creative destruction. Social innovation initiatives conference, organized by the Etopia centre for art and technology and the ZZZINC collective. Held a the Centro Joaquín Roncal, Zaragoza, Spain, in November 27, 2012. More notes on this event: createdestruct.

Juan Freire
Building a culture for social innovation

What is culture? What is social innovation?

We are heading times of destruction, and, hopefully, a creative one.

What is social innovation? Is it R+D+i? Social innovation was born in opposition to technological innovation or commercial innovation, as a marginal thing. It looks now the framework is that everything is social innovation and technological or commercial innovation are a part of this whole.

Three tiers of social innovation:

  • People – education.
  • Organizations – projects, infrastructures.
  • Institutions – public policies.

What infrastructures?

  • Social technologies: there are technologies that are developed collectively and also generate the possibility to collaborate. There are technologies that empower people so that they can create. E.g. Ushahidi.
  • Citizen labs: spaces where people organize as communities not to consume culture, not to discuss about something, but to create and build things. E.g. Medialab Prado.
  • Open data: needed for the technology to be able to work. Open data is the more powerful tool at this moment.

Reactive projects: like political activism, that begin reacting to a specific problem, it replicates, ends up building a network and then stabilizes as a platform that brings more topics, makes proposals, etc.

Some other projects try to improve a (usually failed) public policy or a public space, by proposing new uses or meanings, by hacking its original design.

Social tissue: in The Unplanned City it is stated that cities are not built by the aggregation of services provided from the outside, but built as people living in it build things and use them. There are infrastructures that are born from the demand side, from needs of the citizen that ask for a solution that becomes in the form of a new infrastructure/service. Thus the importance of generating a culture of entrepreneurship in the cities.

All these initiatives have to feedback education. That is, these initiatives have happened “outside of education” and now we find there is a need to re-educate ourselves, to change the way education happens, to think that education can happen outside of formal education institutions. We have to rethink education as a system and as a concept itself. Informal education is increasingly becoming more important. Learning more and more happens amongst peers.

We need a new educational layer where we can learn by doing. A layer of spaces/communities of innovation/entrepreneurship. And a third layer of startups/businesses. We have to foster the creation of these three layers and that they can interact one with each other.


Open Parliament: the Senate in the Net (2012)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2012) “Createdestruct (I). Juan Freire: building a culture for social innovation” In ICTlogy, #110, November 2012. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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