Encouraging Open Community Innovation: Outils-Réseaux’s Modular Approach
Increasingly, individuals, groups and communities are participating actively in the process of technological innovation. Indeed, the novelty of Web 2.0 technologies and platforms appears to lie in the fact that the user has the possibility to produce—and not just consult—a vast array of content and tools. Users are more and more aware of their capacity for making and changing technologies, but participation does not happen automatically for most people. This chapter is a case study of Outils-Réseaux, a French group whose mission is to encourage the development and use of collaborative tools by associative movements. Drawing on interviews and an analysis of the content of various Wiki pages, we reflect on how Outils-Réseaux’s actions and approach participate in community innovation, in which the community itself is an essential element of the innovation. We explore the coevolution of both technical infrastructure (tools for collaboration) and the community, and show how Outils-Réseaux mediates between the (social) world of users and the technical world of software developers. We place particular emphasis on the modularity of the group’s approach to illustrate how it helps reconfigure boundaries for innovation and collaboration. First, we outline Outils-Réseaux’s general approach and several guiding principles. We then describe several “success stories” that illustrate key elements of the approach: simplicity, modularity, user-driven innovation. We conclude with reflections on emergent, community innovation and relate our experiences to academic literature on open, collaborative innovation.
KeywordsOpen Innovation Success Story Ordinary User Collaborative Technology Lead User
This research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada.
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