In the US, social media innovators are changing the way people work and play. In Iceland, these innovators may offer the best hope of rescuing an entire nation.
Iceland emerged in the 1990s as a financial powerhouse after a thousand years on the sidelines of global history. Icelanders became one of the world’s wealthiest and happiest nations. In 2008, three of its banks collapsed, sending the national economy into a tailspin and shattering the people’s trust in government and industry. The government was quickly replaced by one promising transparency and reforms, while a protest party headed by a comedian took control of the Reykjavik city council.
This new cast of politicians is not alone in their efforts to move Iceland out from under the economic cloud. Members of the country's tech and entrepreneurial sector, which saw explosive growth in the lead-up to the collapse, have emerged as leaders in grassroots efforts to set Iceland on a sustainable path. Last year a loosely-organized group calling themselves the Anthill convened a “national assembly” of 1,500 citizens. The day-long event, based on Agile methods and crowdsourcing theory, resulted in a coherent set of values, vision and ideas.
Now the government is planning a similar meeting in preparation for rewriting the constitution. Inspired by open-source processes and leaning heavily on social media technologies, these citizens are rapidly prototyping new forms of democracy utilizing the web and open innovation.
Slacktivism versus real engagement is a false dichotomy - the fact is that smart technologists who care about the world are innovating new ways for people to get involved in the causes they care about. Get used to it.
Now, however, as we enter the next phase of this trend, questions still circle around the relationship between the new, less tested forms of involvement and traditional forms of volunteering and service that are still the bedrock of thousands of social change organizations.
If new technologies are adding more rungs to a ladder of engagement in the form of sharing, viral promotions, micro-volunteering, and micro-giving, what's at the top and the bottom? Where do these actions live beside other innovative, non-technical forms of volunteering -- such as pro bono and skilled models? And what are the right business models for social enterprises that are innovating these technologies?
Join moderator Robert Rosenthal from the pioneering social enterprise VolunteerMatch (www.volunteermatch.org) as he discusses these issues with technologists from three bleeding edge social change Web services: Dan Jacobs, founder of Everywun (www.everywun.com), Jacob Colker, co-founder of The Extraordinaries (www.beextra.org), and George Weiner, CTO of DoSomething.org.
More than ever, brands are getting into the digital innovation game – and not just the technology and electronics companies we’ve come to expect. It comes down to the new ways brands are participating in digital innovation, how they’re supporting it, and why is it imperative that they do so. This flash panel uses PepsiCo10, an “innovation incubator” that sought to pair start-ups with brands, as a case study and discussion starter on the topic.
A social network that functions like a colony of ants. A database that manages and shares information like a slime mold. What can we learn from the obvious? Millions of years of royalty free R&D embedded in nature holds the answers to many of today’s human centered design challenges. In this presentation, co-facilitated by Chris Allen of The Biomimicry Institute and Michael Dungan of BeeDance LLC, learn how a systems approach that mimics nature’s lessons and resiliency can be adapted to technology design. Biomimicry is a proven design process that asks nature for advice. The application of biomimicry is responsible for the development of successful products ranging from Velcro™ and photovoltaic solar panels to advanced seawater desalination methods and more efficient Japanese bullet trains. Bringing a biologist to the design table to explore innovation in IT application development and optimization can unlock new discoveries. The teachings of specific champions in nature that will lead to break-through design thinking will be offered during the presentation. When approached as mentor, model and measure, organisms and whole systems found in the natural world become powerful collaborators. As B2B and B2C users continue to seek out more robust, fast and reliable forms of technology, the answers may not be in the room, but right outside the window.
Are big banks too big to...innovate? It's clear that big banks have lost their innovative edge. Strict new government regulations and frustrated customers walking away haven't even sparked creativity from them. Luckily for consumers, there is a new wave of financial service innovators pushing the limits. Incorporating cutting edge technology, social media and -- believe it or not -- genuine customer service, this new group of financial players are giving traditional banks a run for their money. The Banks: Innovate or Die! panel will discuss why big banks are failing with today's Web 2.0 consumers, and will examine the new players in the space who are stealing customers away due to their innovation.
Over the past several years, there have been many discussions regarding how interactive technology can drive change in our nation’s politics – but of perhaps greater importance is how technology can improve the daily functioning of our nation’s government.
The discussion should not be a partisan one – this panel will bring together leading innovators from both parties to engage in a post-partisan discussion about how technology can improve the public’s interactions with their government.
This discussion should be about specifics – we can all agree on the broad principles that technology drives change – but we have all heard that conversation before. This panel will focus on the specific progress that has been made, the specific opportunities that exist in the near future, and the specific challenges that need to be addressed.
As citizens increasingly become on-demand consumers in their daily lives, it is clear that government needs to better utilize interactive technology or it will only be more radically disconnected from the public.
This is not a political conference, which is precisely why it should be where this conversation takes place – how can the innovations from the creative, marketing and interactive communities be applied to improving our nation?
Our government needs to modernize. We need to move forward and debate new ideas, focusing on how we can collectively make our government work smarter, faster and better for all citizens.
by Carola Thompson and Jim Nieters
In the real world, coming up with a breakthrough idea doesn’t mean it will get to market. By nature, innovative ideas are different and represent new ways of thinking. Getting stakeholders to recognize the value of these market-shaking ideas, buy into and support them, and agree to build them, requires a new kind of design skill: facilitation. This session will show how leading innovation workshops (collaborative design workshops) not only brings UX to the strategy table, but it invents a new table at which strategic ideation and dialog can take place constructively.
In this session, two designers will show how they have lead very different types of innovation workshops to generate creative new ideas, get stakeholders aligned around those ideas, and drive those innovations to market. They will share their favorite methods for getting cross-functional groups to ideate, filter ideas using the innovation funnel, and align organizations around a common vision for breakthrough evolution. They will also post instructions for conducting successful innovation workshops.
You've probably already heard about crowdsourcing platforms like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and CrowdFlower which offer anyone the ability to employ thousands of humans to perform on demand micro-assignments at pennies per task.
But does crowdsourcing even work? What value can thousands of dislocated clicks really provide? Is this really the future of online labor?
In this panel we’ll be examining the topic of crowdsourcing, the crowdsourced labor market, and the entrepreneurial and creative opportunities made possible by “human APIs.”
We’ll also tackle some of the newest innovations in crowdsourcing such as virtual labor for virtual goods where Farmville and other MMPOG gamers are awarded in-game currency for doing real-world microwork such as tagging photos and filling out surveys.
However there's growing concern that these Farmville migrant workers are being unfairly exploited. This is further complicated by the fact that many of them happen to be minors.
But does it even make sense to equivocate their work with “normal” labor? Are there really people living in developing nations that live hand-to-mouth on their income from crowdsourcing? Finally, what are the regulatory and social considerations that we can expect in the future for this space?
In theory, with global brands, instant communication and efficient markets, innovative sites in one country should be quickly copied in others. But cultural idiosyncrasies, language barriers and entrepreneurial egos often conspire to limit the diffusion of innovation. This panel looks at the web culture in Hungary, a European innovation hub, to evaluate its web imports and exports. Are entrepreneurs overlooking opportunities for innovation arbitrage between countries?
by Michelle Gass and Robson Grieve
The great democratization called crowd-sourcing is quickly becoming a debilitating hurdle for innovation. Without an understanding of how to use public opinion, C-suite officers are ditching vision and conviction and risk turning critical business decisions into popularity contests. Do “we, the people” have too much power? How should you use the crowd?
by Ian Kelso, Sean Kane and Tony Schum
More than ever, governments across the world, at both national and local levels, are working hard to attract the "creative/digital industries". When you're looking for a job, you may not know how much your city, state or even national government often play a role in what companies are hiring in your community.
While traditional economic development has typically meant a scenario like bringing a factory to a rural area, a newer practice involves growing so-called industries of the mind. Canada has led the way, but now many states across America are offering incentives to game developers and other tech-related companies (to say nothing of the massive internal investments by certain countries, such as Russia). The benefits can be tax breaks, loans, grants, tax credits and even free rent to get you and your brain trust to make the move.
This discussion will look at why these sorts of incentives are thought to bring benefit to not just the companies, but to their communities and taxpayers, too.
11th–15th March 2011