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<nettime> Digital Innovation / Innovation Labs
Drew Hemment on Thu, 5 May 2011 14:34:19 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Digital Innovation / Innovation Labs


Below is an article on digital innovation http://futureeverything.org/articles/digital-innovation, written for a publication we are preparing for the festival, followed by a details of FutureEverything's digital innovation labs.

Digital innovation will be discussed in a CODA event at FutureEverything in a wonderful venue with views across Manchester on Saturday 14 May.

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DIGITAL INNOVATION

'The best way to predict the future is to invent it.' - Alan Kay, 1971

Digital innovation is the introduction of a new idea, product or method exploiting the cultural, technical and commercial possibilities of digital technology. The central idea behind digital innovation is that a computerised, networked and collaborative world changes the ways people work, learn, play and create. 

A history of digital innovation would include the seminal work at labs such as Xerox PARC in Palo Alto, California, responsible for major developments from laser printing to the modern personal computer, graphical user interface (GUI) and ubiquitous computing. Today digital innovation goes on in the research labs of major corporations, university research institutes such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and InfoLab21 at Lancaster University, and also in the studios of small digital companies and bedrooms of individuals around the world.

Innovation goes beyond the invention of new ideas to their successful implementation, and leads to change in the ways people make decisions and choose to act. It most commonly refers to the commercial development and introduction of products and services. Open Innovation (1) refers to the ways companies can benefit from distributed knowledge, external ideas and external routes to market. This informs the idea that most successful innovation happens not as a linear process but in environments which encourage the circulation of ideas and approaches.

FutureEverything has a distinctive approach to digital innovation, that has evolved out of its artistic programmes, and its close and reciprocal collaboration with Lancaster University’s ImaginationLancaster. This is an approach that is very different to that found in industry and many university labs. It is informed by the field of new media art and digital culture, by design thinking, and even the idea of art as social sculpture from Joseph Beuys. It builds on the way some aspects of digital culture are transforming art and society on a deep level, such as open source and global connectivity. New media artists have made a vital contribution to the open networks of digital culture and have helped to shape tangible new forms and practices in our digital society.

FutureEverything's work in digital innovation (futureeverything.org/innovation) investigates both issues within the arts and the social impacts of new technologies. It explores emerging artforms, new kinds of media object, and novel forms of dissemination and audience experience. Outside the art sphere, it undertakes work in areas of policy, technology development, social innovation and academic research. And it applies creative approaches from art and design to explore themes such as open data, social sensing, new mobilities and distant collaboration involving original research, development, practice and publication.

Digital culture has today burst its banks. The era of one person, or one organisation, doing one thing at a time is over, and this presents challenges and opportunities. To build a digital innovation ecology we need the ability to translate and decode ways of working for others; this is also a creative act, opening new pathways, writing our collaborative future.

Drew Hemment, April 2011

http://futureeverything.org/innovationblog
http://futureeverything.org/cultureblog

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FUTUREEVERYTHING INNOVATION LABS 

FutureEverything runs year-round digital innovation labs (futureeverything.org/innovation), engaging a worldwide community in generating new ideas, social connectivity and practical solutions to innovation problems. 

FutureEverything Data Arts (2010-ongoing) 
Engages artists and designers to make data tangible. See The Data Dimension. FutureEverything has been commissioned by the Cultural Olympiad in the Northwest to scope out a major data visualisation artwork for London 2012.

Open Data Cities (2009-ongoing) 
Has driven Greater Manchester's transition to an Open Data Framework. It has informed a new European initiative, led to the Open Data Manchester community and, in partnership with Trafford Council, the Greater Manchester Datastore, DataGM.

Two innovation projects in the 2011 festival programme include:

OurCity, a prototype for mass participation and citizen-led innovation, developed as a part of FutureEverybody (an innovation lab theme), responding to the City Debate 2010 call to arms ("the future must be for everybody").

OurTravel, a social media transport app tested at FutureEverything, part of FutureMobilities which has explored new approaches to the mobility of people, media and things.

Over the years FutureEverything has run more than 20 innovation labs including:

Globally Connected (2009-10) 
Explored the theme of distant collaboration, telepresence, networked performance, local/global connections, unlimited connectivity and group-to-group connectivity, focused around the GloNet gobally networked event in 2010.

Urban Interface – Smart Cities (2009-10) 
Looked at the ways in which cities are being rewired, through a series of urban interventions, debates, and art and design experiments. It has informed policy debates in Greater Manchester, and was featured on the cover of two Guardian Smarter Cities supplements. 

Environment 2.0 (2006-9) 
Explored how the internet and locative technologies can transform people's relationship to the environment. Participatory mass observation prototypes were developed with the Met Office, OPAL and Natural History Museum, some since scaled up nationally, and informed a new European initiative. 

Social Technologies (2006-8) 
An early foray into social media, focused around annual Social Technologies Summits and Social Networking Unplugged (a 2008 festival event), which led to a series of interactive probes in urban social media. 

Mobile Connections (2003-6) 
An innovation lab on mobile and locative media that contributed to the emergence of the field of locative arts. It culminated in the first major exhibition and conference on the field in 2004, some of the first publications, the Loca artwork, and the Pervasive and Locative Arts Network (EPSRC). 

FutureEverything is a member of the European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) and has published its methods in the form of the Festival As Lab Toolkit (FALT / http://futureeverything.org/innovationblog/festival-as-lab-toolkit). Festival As Lab has been adopted as the inaugural theme of the ECAS festivals network and by festivals around the world including CTM (Berlin), CYNETART (Dresden), New Forms (Vancouver) and MUTEK (Brussels).

Drew Hemment, April 2011

futureeverything.org/innovation

This article will be published by FutureEverything in association with Cornerhouse in a book for FutureEverything 2011 delegates.

(1) Chesbrough, H. W. (2003) Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology, Boston, MA, Harvard Business School Press.


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