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“Growing mangoes in Iceland”: How social media and online communities enable an antifragile and propitiously unpredictable innovation model

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conference contribution
posted on 29.06.2017 by Christian Defeo, Jennifer Harding, Robert Wood
Online communities, in combination with innovation contests and social media, can create a context for ground-breaking innovation. Coalesced communications, accompanied by the long-standing "Hacker Ethic", and bolstered by the increasing prevalence of inexpensive tools such as the 3D printer and Raspberry Pi, have re-invigorated an older model of innovation whereby the tinkerer and hobbyist were positioned as a main source of invention. This paper states that this innovation model, following the ideas of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, can be accurately described as “Antifragile”: i.e., it is not solely dependent on the success of one inventor, and can be geared to become stronger through the “failure” of individual projects and the sharing of data. Evidence is also presented which shows that this paradigm can also lead to "happy accidents", following Morton Meyers' assertion that "Three things are certain about discovery: Discovery is unpredictable. Discovery requires serendipity. Discovery is a creative act" (Meyers, 2011, p.24). For example, an innovation contest in 2014 hosted by the online electronics engineering community element14 whose original intent was to create a new "networked pollution sensor" instead enabled the development of a Carbon Monoxide detector for Latvian classrooms, a dust sensor for Singaporean streets, and an algal bloom detector for water supplies in the Philippines. As this example suggests, this paper also argues that setting ambiguous goals can inspire the aforementioned “happy accidents” that could potentially “grow mangoes in Iceland”; too tightly defined aims can diminish the potential for this form of innovation.

History

School

  • Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering

Published in

European Conference on Social Media

Pages

90 - 97

Citation

DEFEO, C., HARDING, J.A. and WOOD, R.L., 2017. “Growing mangoes in Iceland”: How social media and online communities enable an antifragile and propitiously unpredictable innovation model. IN: Skarzauskiene, A. and Gudeliene, N. (eds). Proceedings of the 4th European Conference on Social Media (ECSM 2017), Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania, 3rd-4th July 2017, pp. 90-97.

Publisher

ACPI (Academic Conferences and Publishing International Limited)

Version

AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Acceptance date

15/02/2017

Publication date

2017

Notes

This is a conference paper.

ISBN

9781911218463

ISSN

2055-7213

Language

en

Location

Vilnius, Lithuania

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