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23 Luglio 2014 ~ 0 Comments

Main S&T results and foregrounds of INSITE

The INSITE coordination action has been organized around a three year long conversation about the Innovation Society and its sustainability crises. The participants in this conversation included scientists, social innovators, policy makers and distributed innovation policy organization (DIPO) leaders. The main focus of the conversation became how to change the way in which European society organizes its transformation processes, in order to achieve a higher level of social cohesion and to steer innovation processes in socially positive directions.

During INSITE’s three years of activities, the European Commission concluded the 7th Framework Program and launched a new one, Horizon 2020. In this same period, the European Union added new members and also suffered through one of the deepest crisis of its history. In addition (and as a consequence), increasing attention was paid to the concept of social innovation, and this concept – and its relationship to INSITE’s primary focus on the relationships among innovation, sustainability and ICT – came under careful scrutiny in the INSITE conversation.

At the end of their work, INSITE participants had integrated social innovation into INSITE’s initial critique of the Innovation Society, developing a vision of how social innovation could help European society to find a new way to organize its transformation processes. This vision provides a key role for future ICT, which INSITE participants hope to help realize in on-going and future research projects, as a key element in the construction of Europe 2020.

The INSITE conversation evolved in several different directions, following the threads spun in the seven work packages, which intertwined to weave a final message that can be briefly summarised as follows:

  1. The globalised society is going out of control, for many reasons: the policy prescriptions inherent in the Innovation Society ideology, which calls for policies oriented to priming the pump of technical invention but not for the dynamical evaluation of the cascades of social transformations set in motion by the introduction of new artefacts (see Del. 2.2); a discrepancy in dimensionality between knowledge gained and impact of that knowledge on the environment (see Del. 5.1), which is reaching a tipping point in which the possibility of a change in the sociotechnical system and not only in single sociotechnical regimes is imminent (see Del. 3.2).
  2. ICT is creating a unique opportunity to transform the extraction-to-waste economy into one that distributes information-processing capacity and wealth by enabling an important degree of decoupling between information flows and energy/matter flows (Del. 5.1). However, at the moment, cascades of change in ICT are producing the same unpredictable effects as other major technologies past and present, and our society lacks the concepts and means to orient its development in more socially promising directions. This is the case because nobody has addressed, so far, with a usable robust methodology, the problems of monitoring and steering in socially positive directions the cascades of unexpected social and attributional transformations that the appearance of ICT artefacts has produced during the last forty years (Del. 2.2).
  3. The social agents, engaged in the development and use of ICT, in the present globalised world, tend to move in swarms (Del.6.2). This kind of social behaviour is not new, but it is reaching an extension and intensity unknown to previous societies, probably as a consequence of the diffusion of new ICT tools, standards and platforms. This phenomenon is challenging the role of traditional ruling regimes (national states and international organisations), methodologies of knowledge organisation (schools, universities, bureaucratic systems), and practices of citizen involvement, empowerment and participation.
  4. It is probably possible to design new policy approaches, in line with the evolution of the present society (as envisioned in the INSITE- conversation) and to direct the attention of policy makers to the cascades of social consequences produced by innovation processes rather than a narrow focus on technical inventions and short term consensus, attributed by markets and consumers, around specific “solutions.” For this to happen, the European policy approach needs a change in perspective. Social mobilization in swarms can be channelled by DIPOs to develop an exit strategy from the crisis, by introducing new cultural tools (e.g. network thinking, organisation thinking; see Dels.6.2 and 2.2) and adequate evaluation systems (as described in Del.2.2 and as partially realized in the work of the INSITE spin-off project MD).

These messages are emerging not only from the INSITE working groups, but also by the interaction of INSITE participants with other projects, the most important of which is GSDP and its contributions to the GSS (Global System Science) perspective.

In the next paragraphs we want to present the more interesting S&T implications of the INSITE conversation, following the work package structure and highlighting personal contributions.

The first working group, operating under the auspices of WP 2, focused on the theme: The Innovation Society. What it is, how it works – and how European society might escape from its endogenous crises.

This group started off its work from the most relevant results of another EU funded project (ISCOM). This led to a comprehensive analysis of the so-called Innovation Society (described in INSITE Del.2.1). During the second half of INSITE, additional ideas emerged from the WP2 team’s work, some of which have been published in the recent Naples 2.0 Social Innovation Competition volume (authored by David Lane and Filippo Addarii) and in a manifesto Towards an Agenda for Social Innovation (authored by David Lane), which appeared on the INSITE website at the end of 2013 and has been widely circulated through INSITE participant networks. The manifesto has prompted a discussion among several European-level DIPOs as well as individuals in the EC, OSCE and several national (Italy, Australia) policy-making circles.

Here are the basic conclusions of the WP2 team’s discussions.

Our society’s dependence on innovation cascades is expressed in, and sustained by, an increasingly widespread way of thinking, which we will term the Innovation Society ideology. This ideology underlies almost all current discourse about business strategy and governmental policy. The following four propositions form its central core: (1) the principal aim of policy is sustained economic growth, interpreted as a steady increase in GDP; (2) the engine of this growth is innovation, interpreted as the creation of new kinds of artifacts; (3) Which new kinds of artifacts have value is decided by the market; (4) the price to pay for not innovating, or for subordinating innovation to other values, like cultural enrichment or social justice is prohibitively high: competition, at the level of firms and of national economies, dooms dawdlers to failure, which translates into economic decline and social chaos. (Manifestoand Del. 2.2)[1]

Modern society seems unable to face its crises, because it is locked into this ideology and the way of organizing its transformation processes that the ideology supports. The private and third sectors are simply unable to respond to these with new “remedial” innovations, as the ideology prescribes. Therefore it’s necessary for the public institutions to invest in “priming the pump of invention”, creating seed capital resources and organisations, scaffolding structures for start-ups and spin-offs. And it’s also necessary to orient these investment processes towards convenient horizons that cognitive asymmetries hide to the vision of common people and entrepreneurs. Horizon 2020 is the European tool for compensating the European society’s weakness. Dels. 2.2 and 6.2 suggest that this won’t suffice, without getting out from under the organization and ideology of the Innovation Society.

The INSITE discussions also brought to light an underlying narrative structure, which frames the way people in the Innovation Society think about projects directed towards the construction of the “remedial” innovations we referred to above. We call this narrative structure, discussed in Del. 2.2, the Happy Project. It can be summarised as follows:

The way in which project leaders embedded in the Innovation Society Ideology tell the stories of their project frequently conforms to a particular narrative structure, which we call the Happy Project. The logic underlying this narrative structure depends on three key presuppositions.  The first is that social problems can be converted into technical problems. The second key presupposition is that, through the application of technique by relevant experts, technical problems are resolvable. The third key presupposition is that technique compels conviction; this endows artefacts linked to technique (the technical problem and the technical artefact) with the capacity to drive the society-wide attributional alignments that figure in the denouement.  These three key presuppositions have roots in the Enlightenment and are inextricably entwined with modernity; in particular, they are part of the intellectual subsoil from which the Innovation Society ideology has sprouted.  It is this intimate relationship of its narrative logic with modernity and the Innovation Society ideology that accounts for the ubiquity with which the Happy Project narrative structure recurs in the narrative embeddings by leaders while their projects are on-going and in their retrospective “success” narratives.  (Del.2.2)

The combination of social organization, ideology and narrative structure that compose the Innovation Society has boxed us in, limiting collective action to supporting the design of new technical artefacts to solve well-defined problems, without paying attention to the unattended consequences, which emerge inevitably in the wake of these new artefacts. The multiplication of projects and artefacts, instead of solving the social problems of the society, just creates cascades of new unattended problems: as INSITE researcher declared in the title of one of his recent papers, “For Every Solution, There are Many Problems.”

ICT innovation processes are of course not special. They too generate cascades of social transformations, many of which will be implicated in future “crises”, and if they are not followed by an adequate dynamic evaluation, and a robust distributed policy-making and –doing process is not in place by act on the basis of what that evaluation reveals,[2] they may provide no valuable contribution to sustainability, even though they are a promising technology today (Del. 5.1).


The second working group, organized by WP 3, investigated the best scientific ways to analyse the dynamics of innovation (innovation cascades and exaptive bootstrapping in particular), referring to available theory and models.

After a long interaction with different experts, and three international workshops, the coordinator of this group (Claes Andersson) came to the conclusion that there is no effective model available. The level of complexity achieved by the Innovation Society is challenging a great number of analytical tools, used for a long time by social scientists, and forcing them to look for different and better approaches.

A central theme in the discussions of this group is that at the interstices between biology and social sciences lies a significant generative potential for interpreting social evolution. This potential has been greatly enhanced by the relatively recent emergence of developmental theories of evolution in biology. In addition, the increasing interest in the organization and bootstrapping dynamics of hierarchical multi-level complex systems provides key insights into innovation dynamics.

As a result of the INSITE discussions, Andersson and other working group participants proposed the outlines of a new synthetic theory of innovation dynamics, intertwining developmental evolutionary theory with approaches based on historical case studies in the social science, placing organisation thinking rather than population thinking at the forefront.[3] This approach privileges a narrative case study methodology to theory construction, supported by a particular approach to modelling as discussed in Del. 3.2 and the paper by Andersson, Tornberg and Tornberg on Wicked Systems, to be published in Future.

This new approach aims at overcoming problems encountered by traditional approaches, deriving from assumptions about invariance of context, while parts of it undertake simple and measurable changes. INSITE working group participants claim that “wicked systems” cannot be analysed by this kind of approach. Their synthetic theory puts together ideas from exaptive bootstrapping theory of David Lane, the generative entrenchment theory of Bill Wimsatt, and the niche construction theory of Kevin Lalande, along with associated methodologies.

The Chalmers INSITE team, working with several prominent anthropologists who attended the second and third workshop organized by WP3, tested the new approach on the emergence of early human sociotechnical organisations. By studying the transition from different ages, the group discovered that the possibility to shift from an existing sociotechnical system to a new one is rare. Many different conditions have to be realized together and the window of time available for it is not wide. If the societal system doesn’t achieve the required knowledge in time, very often it enters a decline, in which existing functionality is lost.

The adoption of a transition model, enabling the agents to understand the process whereby an existing sociotechnological “core” (that is, the relatively invariant and historically antecedent part of a hierarchically organized sociotechnological system) is replaced by a new core, is a promising perspective for the analysis of complex systems. And it could be useful to understand the possible evolution of the Innovation Society, which has installed a positive feedback artefact innovation engine at the core of the society.

This way, scientists could come back to the round table with policy makers and innovation practitioners with some good news for debate. Narrative based historical case studies can be proposed as useful tools for understanding wicked systems (i.e. eco-systems, societies) and, among them, Innovation Society as well. There is bad news, though: there appear to be no off-the-shelf approaches for organising innovation in ways that lead to a sustainable path into the future. In fact, taking the deep historical perspective of the WP3 discussion group, the magnitude of the goal of sustainability comes more clearly into view. Deliverable 3.2 describes why.


The third working group of INSITE, organized by WP 5, came to the same conclusion, through a more traditional and empirical approach, to the same basic questions: is the Innovation Society sustainable? And given that the answer is no, which was the working group’s conclusion, how can ICT play a role in helping to understand the apparently unsustainable course of our present society?

Sander van der Leeuw coordinated this group, working together with a number of scientists, DIPO leaders and social innovators. The results of their discussions are presented in two separate deliverables:

–   Del.5.1 summarised (in a sort of white paper on sustainability) what emerged from several meetings and workshops, involving scientists and policy makers of different continents;

–   Del.5.2 summarises what emerged in Venice, during an international event finalised to test the possibility of developing in Europe a scaffolding structure for the existing networks committed to mobilize civil society for a socially sustainable future. This event was held at the end of a series of workshops and meetings involving scientists and social innovators in different fields.

Del. 5.2 confirms the idea that the present society, grown around the extraction-to- waste-economy principles, is reaching a tipping point, a point of crisis/transformation/transition. As happened several times in the past (e.g. in the case of the Roman Empire), present society risks to decline because it is not able to harmonise information flows and matter flows. Evident imbalances are visible in different parts of the system: energetic, financial, demographic, urban, etc. Aligned with the analysis in Del. 2.2, Del. 5.2 confirms that a major problem is posed by the short term orientation of individual choices (extraction to waste), while cascades of unattended consequences are visible only in the longer run. The material flow of goods is faster than the information flow and the learning by doing process.

Humans learn about the environment changing it, and they change it more than they learn about it. The more the society primes the pump of innovation, the more the gap of sustainability is growing. This is slowing down the rate of growth and driving the Innovation Society to a possible decline. If the productivity of the knowledge creation system doesn’t increase soon, also thanks to new generalised ICT, the probability of a decline increases dramatically.

What should be clear to policy makers, innovation leaders and facilitators, is that the information flow is insufficient. The limit to growth and sustainability of the present regime is internal to the information society’s structure. Without a new guiding narrative with respect to its development, ICT is not saving the world.

Of course there are limits in the available natural resources, but the main evolutionary problems are social. The Innovation Society is a sociotechnical system composed of sociotechnical regimes aiming to codify useful knowledge. However existing ICT systems are not able to provide information analysis in time and to codify the drivers of future social behaviour. Nevertheless the INSITE working group proposes that ICT can solve the problem of the relationship between knowledge production, invention and innovation dynamics, because it contributes to the emergence of “horizontal networks”, social forms in line with the aim to mobilizing core components of the society to simulate and envision the future (thanks to a new narrative approach to ontological uncertainty), to organise distributed innovation policies, bottom up decisions making procedure, income and wealth new allocation systems.

In order to positively exploit this possibility, scientist and policy makers should interpret ICT evolution in a new way, aligned with the perspective proposed by INSITE. Mastery in processing the third of the three fundamental commodities of the universe, information, has only just set in motion another major revolution in our social, economic and environmental organisation. From the perspective of social change, at least four different dimensions of the future impact of ICT seem important to us. ICT will

–   substantially increase transaction efficiency,

–   trigger structural changes in the division of labour, including increasing specialisation in the functions and tasks fulfilled by individuals, groups and institutions,

–   change the configuration of firms and markets, as well as their roles and shape, and

–   free up resources for implementing innovations.

The practical experiences analysed during the WP5 work (available on the INSITE website and in part in Del.5.2) suggest that these expectations could be too optimistic, aligned as they are to a “backward “interpretation of ICT. The conclusions of Del. 5.2 have been partly challenged by an alternative view, presented later in this report, which also emerged during the INSITE conversation.

Around this point, the interaction among participants fuelled the design of a new INSITE guiding narrative about Innovation Society. Beyond traditional approaches to ICT, big data, information and communication management, INSITE participants have begun to conceive the idea that the evolution of ICT and the resulting cascades of social and attributional transformations, launched by the diffusion of personal computers (as a convergence technology for scientific and creative activities), has influenced the societal dynamics in a way that seems to be quite far from those traditionally indicated by a linear interpretation of innovation processes. A deep re-interpretation of the cascade of consequences induced by the introduction of ICT might lead to a more compelling narrative about the real impact of this technology on the sustainability of present society.


The fourth INSITE working group, organized by WP 4 and led by Alberto Cottica and Giovanni Ponti, assembled policy makers, data analysts and social network. Through a series of meetings, this group aimed to re-interpret social and economic problems by means of a “network thinking approach” and its instantiation in ICT. At the end of their discussions, the participants came to the conclusion that, in addition to the structural and functional issues raised in the discussions of the first three working groups, an imbalance is present also in the current decision making process. National states and international organisations (like UE, WTO, UNIDO…) are inadequate forms of social organisation. Citizens and social entrepreneurs participating in horizontal networks, change the permissions structures that govern their interactions and organise themselves in “swarms”, beyond traditional the boundaries that delineate, and hierarchical networks that support, existing governance processes.[4]

The main conclusions of this working group are described in Del. 6.2. The most important of these is that a new policy framework is emerging from the cascade of interactions primed by the diffusion of social ICT tools and networking platforms. A new generation of policy makers, skilled in “swarm-activation” and -governance is developing, while traditional bureaucrats lose parts of their power and roles, despite the substantial investment by traditional governments on ICT as a vertical organisation technology.

The effects of ICT applied to horizontal networks and to creative process are still at the beginning. They seem to be more important than the expected effects on vertical networks and productive chains. ICT has already made its positive contribution to process codification, the engineering of procedures, human behaviour and industrial/scientific knowledge — but its potential contribution to communication, storytelling, narrative construction of collective action is still to be realized. From this specific possible development of generalised ICT will depend to a great extent the resilience of our society, as it seeks to escape from the Innovation Society’s endogenous crises

Examples of aggregation/mobilisation of citizens and entrepreneurs (in the direction called for in the manifesto Towards an Agenda for Social Innovation) have been discussed in WP 7 working groups led by Denise Pumain of the Sorbonne INSITE team and Margherita Russo of ECLT (see Del. 7.1). Examples of ICT platforms, actual and potential, oriented to exploit the generative potential of collective knowledge creation, have been discussed in working groups of WP4, launched and led by Stefan Thurner of the Medical University of Vienna and Alberto Lusoli of ECLT (see Del 4.2). These discussions provide evidence of how difficult it is to work on these problems and to come to valuable results. Nevertheless these limited experiences aim at the very center of the Innovation Society. They should be quite useful for the construction of shared guiding narratives for future possible change


The threads mentioned so far intertwine in different points. Even though each working group of INSITE followed a specific discussion track, the coherence of the different contributions and the complementarity of the results are evident. In particular, the conversations in WP2 and WP5 initiated by David Lane and Sander van der Leeuw on the basis of the ideas they carried over from ISCOM, went quite far from the original objectives of INSITE. The new ideas that emerged from these conversations provide a promising starting point not only to support the development of a new wave of discussion about sustainability, innovation and ICT inside the GSS, FET and Collective Awareness Platforms programs, but also to contribute to the taking off of a European movement for social innovation aligned to the framework developed in the social innovation manifesto and Del. 2.2. Last but not least, the conversations led participants to conceive of new research projects, beyond MD and the other local experiments mentioned in other parts of this report.

At the end of INSITE, beyond the working experience and the learning process activated among all the participants as described above, the project coordinator came to the conclusion that INSITE concepts create the basis for effective work on ICT in the near future. Some of the leading partners of INSITE and others who participated in the INSITE conversations can now design a more consistent research project on ICT, focused on its impact on the European society, the cascades of unattended consequences that has produced and the narrative structure that it is following in its evolution. This may be the most relevant result of this coordination action, in terms of advice for the people involved and the European Commission as funder. The conversation should continue…

The generation of new ICT artefacts (on which Europe has invested a lot of resources during the last thirty years and continue to invest today) should be analysed/interpreted in the light of the INSITE results.  So far no research group has attempted to verify what kind of cascade of consequences the appearance of ICT devices and software solutions has produced in the way of functioning of our society, on the environment and the technology frameworks and trajectories of different industries. Even the INSITE group had to invest hard in new methodologies and theoretical approaches in order to define a convenient and promising interpretive framework. Now that framework is available and can be used for further attempts.

Here are the outlines for such a project:

ICT (in its informatics component) appeared in a historical phase in which the prevalent narrative structure was: automation. The guiding frame of the majority of the projects was the following one: productive processes can be standardised (foreseen ex ante) from the beginning. Thanks to the scientific/engineeristic/informatic approach, sooner or later, every human activity will be codified and replicated (in automation), without human intervention. The climax in the diffusion and effectiveness of this narrative structure may be located at the beginning of the Nineties, when Rifkin’s book (The End of Work) was a bestseller.

The myth of automation has generated several chimeras and monsters (like CIM – Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Expert Systems, etc.), promoted the birth of several specialised companies (Bull, IMB, SAP, etc.) and drove the development of DIPOs and scaffolding structures (TQC movement, TQM training courses, etc.) all over the world. Worldwide associations for standard setting have been created in almost any industry.[5] These associations not only multiplied and supported the diffusion of the automation myth and connected perspectives (like the already named TQC, TQM, TQD practices – Total Quality Control, Total Quality Management, Total Quality Deployment…), but deeply influenced innovation trajectories. Training schools, engineering courses, mechatronics departments have been developed for many years, in order to construct the “standardised” industrial world that the evangelists of automation were promising at the time. Policy making as well has been deeply influenced by this narrative and the consequent cascade of actions (at any level: micro, meso and macro).

However, after forty years, not only “the end of work” is no longer a credible perspective, but the mere idea of automation is no longer a driver of industrial decisions. The end of history, the definitive codification of human processes, the productive and cognitive ex-ante organisation by ICT development and expert systems diffusion are out-of-order concepts.  During the last twenty years another narrative has started to emerge, considering creativity and innovation as a continuous hybridisation process, impossible to be codified and planned ex-ante. The view of innovation as an evolutionary hybridisation experience has begun to overcome the linear cumulative view, in parallel with the emergence of the developmental biological framework as a driving paradigm in social sciences (Del.3.2). We may cite collective narrative experiences in parallel with these conceptual changes: for example, the decline of the traditional pattern of mechanical robots in the moving picture system (from 2001 – Space Odyssey to Blade Runner) and the declining expectations about the cloning track after the Dolly sheep experiment.

All these occurred in the middle of the Nineties, when the new generalised ICT wave took place with the diffusion of Internet, the digital divide in photo and video production, etc… The second side of the ICT coin (the creative one) took the leadership in the development of the technological framework of information society. Social components (micro, meso and macro) that emerged during the age dominated by the automation narrative structure were seen to be unable to finalise the functions and tasks attributed to them. Only at a small scale had the informatics analysis of industrial and cognitive processes driven to automation (in manufacturing companies as well as in offices). On the one hand, this happened because an unattended effect of industrialisation has been a growing demand for out of the box solutions, made to measure products, a passion for unique and artistic artefacts, a decrease in production series and batches…; on the other hand, because the promises of flexible automation have been betrayed. Only at a small scale did the informatic analysis of information production and distribution, as an emerging internal organisation of the ICT industry, liberated from the ancillary role of specialised department in large corporations and service organisations (at the time of EDP), lead to the design of automatic platforms for software and knowledge development (adopting the master-slave pattern). Instead, the ICT industry and its market system underwent a great diffusion of open source platforms, network based control patterns, distributed control systems and any other not hierarchical system.

What kind of artefact are Internet, Office standard packages, Auto-Cad, Google research robots for big data analysis, FB, Twitter, Youtube, Skype, etc.? They are a hybrid technology composed by two components:

–   a standardised system in line with the interoperability predicament (unique code, that is limiting the individual degree of freedom, but fostering collective interaction possibilities)

–   an open/creative evolving system in line with the need of introducing different meanings, interpretation possibilities and uses of the same platform by different, heterogeneous users.

After the construction of urban spaces and other physical infrastructures (artefacts with highly specific functions), the appearance of ICT artefacts and the construction of virtual infrastructures is probably the most important innovation of humanity from its very first emergence in the past. ICT is a technology open to a great variety of possible interpretations, uses, functionalities and allows the possibility of to maintaining both the social need for commons and recognised standards and a very high level of individual freedom and autonomy.

The degree of complexity of the social system that has emerged around new ICT has grown exponentially during the last forty years, due to a cascade of innovations and unattended consequences absolutely new in the history of humankind. The governance crisis of the global system of today is partly an effect of this cascade. While the potentiality of ICT is still interpreted as the hope for the resilience of the modern society,[6] there has been no attempt to perform the dynamic evaluation of the cascade initiated at the end of the Seventies that could help us to understand how social structures and driving narratives are changing in the world created by the National Capitalism institutions and the myth of automation. This kind of evaluation could provide us with a transition model (composed of popular guiding narratives and core social components narratives), which could help us to face and design the transition to novelty in the ontological uncertainty conditions in which we find ourselves.

Historical and anthropological studies, like those carried out by INSITE participant Dwight Read on the increase of social complexity that has accompanied the evolution of machinery for agriculture during the first industrial revolution, provide us with precious examples of what kind of analytical work we should do. A research project on ICT as an Agent/Artefact/Attribution space is mature, a space we can map and interpret on the basis of David Lane’s theory, the A4 language produced by the MD project (as noted, a spin off of INSITE) and other dynamic evaluation tools today available thanks to the INSITE project’s results and MD.

Such a research project could introduce a powerful bridge between the narrative of the past and the narratives of the future, those recognised as a driver of future innovations in this important technological hybrid (mainly in the communication/narrative component).

Here are some hypotheses about what such a project would reveal:

a)   Competences designed to serve industrial and administrative processes planning (industrial and office automation) have been diverted towards now emerging tasks (creativity and communication), finalised to increase the degree of freedom from standards and the interpretive ability of the final user. Millions of software engineers and developers have been invited to organise, in a creative and open way, the contents of communication, hybridizing their original knowledge and competences with new ones (mainly artistic and creative) in a close interaction with the citizen/user/consumer.

b)   In a world permeated by the diffusion of new ICT artefacts (pcs at the beginning and smart phones today) whose principal scope is no longer calculation and standard software design (towards automation), open source organizations and social networks have begun to extend their dominion over communication channels, once the exclusive territory of accredited journalists, copy experts, actors, directors, authors and other characters of the traditional/hierarchical media system.

c)   In parallel with the diffusion of the last generation of ICT and social networks, a new narrative structure emerged (in strong opposition to the past centuries national state): the network as an open society, a new advanced form of democracy, off the shelf, far form any standardisation, alternative to hierarchical institutions dominated by the myth of technical/professional skills (weberian mode).

d)   Far from the original ideology of automation and standardisation, the world of the hackers (possible core of a new sociotechnical system) is producing one of the greatest social organization experiments that humankind has ever seen, challenging traditional political and governance standards and institutions created in the age of vertical networks (Big Brothers, National States, Multinational Corporations, Empires…).

e)   The cascade of social innovations produced by the introduction of the first electronic chip, in the agent/artefact space of modernity, not only is far from being concluded, but is strongly influencing the re-organisation process of the Innovation Society as it continues to resist to the decline and possible lack of resilience of the extraction-to-waste economic system.


The participants in INSITE and other observers of the ICT industry and the Innovation Society claim that the cascade of innovations, launched by the myth of TQC in standard processes at the end of the Seventies, is driving the global system to embrace new forms of artefacts production and social aggregation (urban, virtual, industrial) and construct new market systems.  A new research project and even another coordination action (INSITE 2.0) could successfully try to interpret this story, on the basis of the suggestions, methods and tools developed by INSITE and MD participants: in particular to understand ways in which these underlying social changes might be directed towards the construction of a sustainable and socially coherent future.




[1] The theme of the Innovation Society is also developed in the context of WP 3’s work: “The Innovation Society is on the most abstract level a society where innovation is no longer just a means of solving problems: a state where innovation is ideologically sublimated and has become entrenched at the very heart of how society functions – where innovation becomes important in itself quite regardless of what gets innovated.” (Del.3.2). It also runs through WP5 activities (see Del.5.1)


[2] See Del. 2.2 for discussions of dynamic evaluation and distributed policy-making and –doing.

[3] The distinction between organization and population thinking is developed in depth in the first chapter of the book that INSITE’s predecessor ISCOM produced, Lane, Pumain, van der Leeuw and West (eds), Complexity Perspectives on Innovation and Social Change (Springer, 2009).

[4] This is of course coherent with the conclusions in Dels. 2.2, 3.2 and 5.2 summarized above.

[5] The analytical work of ISCOM on the Lonworks case has documented this specific cascade in the automated control industry, as reported in the ISCOM volume cited above.

[6] Del.5.1 underlines the possibility that ICT can help in closing the gap between matter flows, negative consequences on environmental conditions and information flows / development of knowledge.

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