The non-experts are the real experts – open innovation talk at re:publica

May 2, 2012 in Freedom to innovate, Freedom to learn by Balthas

From DIY to 'Who hacks whom'? Author: Berishafjolla. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Virus.jpg

From DIY to ‘Who hacks whom’? Author: Berishafjolla. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Virus.jpg

So re:publica 2012 has started today. Not only with a call for freedom by Harvards Eben Moglen, but also with an interesting talk on ‘open innovation and the contribution of non-experts’ by Beth Kolko.

Here’s my summary of it: For Beth, non-experts have the skills to innovate, but lack the recognition and credentials by institutions. They are outsiders, but that also makes them great rule-breakers: think of them as both innovators and challengers of institutional experts: They form communities of disruptive technology, as they think outside the box. Plus, they are willing to embrace a re-mix approach, that is truely ‘open innovation’. Examples include hackers, builders, DIY-activists, functional engineers

Beth then introduced an example of her students building a simle to use ultrasound imaging machine for midwifes in Africa including an adapted help and learning system. This is part of her initiative ‘ShiftLabs. Low-cost solutions for low-resource health markets.’ Also of interest her project Hackademia, which is meant to explore the options for non-experts to do open innovation: community spaces, apprenticeship, semiformal learning environments like labs. Overall, I like her approach of stressing the disruption and the opennness of this kind of open innovation by the outsiders. Thats very much linked to open innovation in, what I have called ‘freedom-to-innovate centered open innovation‘.

More to come in the coming days (e.g. a report from  a session by GIZ colleague and Ethiopian blogger Markos Lemma..

Please also check the newsfeed of my colleague Christian Gmelin on the GIZ GC21 e-academy facebook account (oups, Eben Moglen would not be happy with that link …).

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Note: This text was first published on the blog of Balthas Seibold at the Alumniportal Germany (www.alumniportal-deutschland.org/en/). Check the blog ( register or login first). All blog entries represent the personal views and ideas of Balthas Seibold.