e-STAS 2009 (II). Empowerment for Social Innovation

Notes from Simposium de las Tecnologías para la Acción Social (e-STAS: Symposium on Technologies for Social Action) held in Málaga, Spain, on March 26-27th, 2009. More notes on this event: estas2009. More notes on this series of events: e-stas.

Empowerment for Social Innovation, introduction by Ignacio Martín Maruri, Adaptive.

What’s empowerment? Why does not “empoderamiento” exist in Spanish? What’s the relationship between empowerment and innovation? Is it innovation just technological innovation? Or can we innovate in the field of citizenship? Is innovation good for empowerment… or bad, because it makes people comfortable and lazy? Or is it just the seek for comfort that makes people look for empowering innovations?

Empowerment? What for? Freedom? Progress?

Group work

Fernando Botelho: a main issue in empowerment is control. Empowerment without control — or with tools which are under the control of third parties — is not real empowerment. Open systems contribute to providing control (over the tools) to the empowered ones.

Roland Traumuller: Advances have to be taken in steps, steps that can be followed. Technology provides simple steps towards progress, towards empowerment.

Christian Kreutz: In the line of control, does empowerment makes sense within walled gardens?

Ismael Peña-López: empowerment is not about outputs, but about processes, which includes the selection of the (re)sources that are going to feed your processes.

Pierre L. Carrolaggi: Is it possible full control? Isn’t it an illusion? Not even in the free software field can you control everything.

Fernando Botelho: Absolute independence might not be possible or even desirable. Which does not mean that open protocols enhance interaction and interdependence — quite different from dependence.

Wilhem Lappe: Open protocols open the door for collaboration. And even if they’re not under one’s control, they make it possible to act and interact.

Christian Kreutz: There’s a difference between being empowered and potentially being able to be empowered. We might not be aware that there’s been a huge advance in the possibilities of empowerment, even if it has not materialized. This is why output is also very important, as it realizes the possibilities of some advancements towards empowerment.

Summing up:

  • control (of the tools, of the environment) is important for empowerment
  • processes matter more than output
  • though successful output raises awareness and shows reachable goals
  • control (of the tools) can be substituted by openness (e.g. open protocols) so that interaction happens freely without the need of control
  • the creation of potential empowerment (vs. real achieved empowerment) has to be brought under the spotlight as it is a successful achievement too


e-Stas 2009, Symposium on Technologies for Social Action (2009)