Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation: an introduction

posted 9 Nov 2015, 22:35 by Franco Bagnoli   [ updated 9 Nov 2015, 22:45 ]
In just three decades, the internet has evolved from an experimental tool for researchers to a pervasive, omnipresent backbone for society and the economy. In my eyes its main strength, and unprecedented characteristic, is hyperconnectivity, which is the ability to network people, ideas and data across boundaries of any nature: geographical, cultural, disciplinary, linguistic, social, economic.

All of the most innovative ideas, from Skype to Wikipedia, from online cartography to app stores, had a very quick, viral spreading. Their impact was as much game-changing as it was unpredicted just a few months earlier.

Indeed, hyperconnectivity opens up a new field where successful ideas have nothing in common but their unpredictable, bottom-up nature and the ability of exploiting network effects at any level. Trying to understand where the next big game changer can emerge, in 2012 we launched a research initiative called Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation (CAPS). The objective was to explore new solutions at the confluence of social networks, knowledge networks and networks of things. It was a broad concept and was very far from the traditional approach to research funding, which normally requires well focussed technological horizons. And its implementation was made possible only thanks to the foresight of Robert Madelin, the Director General of DG CONNECT.

Nowadays, the need to reinforce societal resilience and sustainability is becoming more and more pressing. We are therefore launching a new call in this area, in order to stimulate new, bottom-up and grassroots solutions based on new forms of collaboration enabled by the internet.
I like to think that a book sprint is a very good example of how people can collaborate in innovative ways for the common good, for sharing knowledge especially with newcomers to fast growing fields such as CAPS. In other words, a way of 'walking the talk' in the broad area of social innovation, for which I warmly thank all the colleagues who co-authored this publication in a few intense days of work.

I trust that you will find this book as refreshing, concise and stimulating as I did, and I encourage you to contribute to further revisions not only by writing but also by doing, in the framework of the many new initiatives that are being launched in these days.

Fabrizio Sestini, Scientific Officer, European Commission’s DG CONNECT

See the attached document
Franco Bagnoli,
9 Nov 2015, 22:35