Participatory innovation

How can we, in the complex constellations of users, stakeholders, and professional designers, identify and take advantage of novel sources of innovation for future applications of IT?

Those we once understood as end-users of prefabricated systems have become increasingly able to shape the interactive systems and products that they employ. Similarly, the emergent shift from ‘users’ and ‘producers’ to ‘produsers’ challenges our preconceptions of consumption and production. These tendencies dissolve the boundaries between use and design, and present us with a new paradigm for innovation in which value is created in the context of use through networks of users, designers, and stakeholders. This forces us to reconsider traditional understandings of the roles of users and designers, and the established methods of user participation in design that are based on these understandings.

In order to address this challenge, PIT will investigate the complex constellations of users, stakeholders, and professional designers, in order to identify and exploit novel sources of innovation for future applications of IT. We will investigate classic participatory design techniques in new contexts, and explore alternative innovative design strategies, in order to establish new understandings of how we can empower users to become innovators. Participatory innovation may be investigated at both 1) a macro-level, for example political, organizational, and platform-related aspects, and 2) a micro-level, addressing specific design techniques and methods for co-design, software platforms, and generative digital design materials, the emergence and transformation of design ideas, and so on.

The innovators of tomorrow may well emerge from one of the tool sheds, garages, hacker spaces, or artistic environments across the planet. In addition to studying well-established practices such as design and IT-development companies, PIT researchers will examine emergent practices such as the free software movement, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) communities, and artistic strategies and artefacts for exploring the challenges and potential they present for participatory innovation. Such approaches have been considered to be in contrast to participatory design, but PIT suggests that this is not necessarily the case. We will explore the possibilities and boundaries of such artistic strategies, in order to identify new design approaches, tools, and methods.

PIT will be used to investigate

  1. documentation, mapping, and analysis of participatory ideation and innovation processes
  2. software and hardware platforms supporting innovative design processes
  3. innovative uses of open source data
  4. generative design materials
  5. artistic strategies, such as employing creativity constraints to leverage participatory innovation processes.