About the New Media Open Innovation Exchange

These are some first thoughts developed by David Wilcox and Simon Berry, following discussions with some others involved in the Innovation Exchange. Please add comments below, and help develop the idea further. If you register on this site, you'll get your own blog to contribute more fully. Earlier item here.

Where did this start?

A group of people collaborated to create the open innovation exchange (OIE), initially to bid for a Cabinet Office contract for a Third Sector innovation exchange. We wrote the bid openly, and were shortlisted but didn't get the contract. We were also shortlisted for a New Statesman New Media Award - result to be announced July 24 2007. The OIE process created a lot of interest at a time when people are thinking about the benefits of open, user-led, innovative, collaborative development of products and services. We believe new media is both and enabler and catalyst for this type of development

What's the idea now?

We introduce the idea of an open new media innovation exchange to coincide with the New Statesman Awards. We do this on the site http://www.innovationexchange.net, and in Facebook to start with. The aim is "to promote and support innovative use of new media for social benefit". Everyone involved in the NS awards is invited to be founder members, joining the original OIE contributors.

Why do we need an innovation exchange for new media?

The NS awards again highlight the range of innovative new media projects to "benefit society, government or democracy". There are scores of similar projects, dozens of groups and networks - but few linkages across sectors and disciplines. The new Government-supported Third Sector Innovation Exchange will help - but it will be very broad, and linked to government policies. Our innovation exchange will have a sharper focus on new media, a light touch, and no boundaries.

How will it work?

It will be modeled on our first round of work, when we developed the innovation exchange proposals using open source principles. We expect our operation to be a mix of open, bottom-up, ideas-generation, together with tight project management. This management will be essential as possibilities become opportunities that could be funded or marketed. Anyone will be free to join our current core group to help evolve our approach.

Who will run the exchange?

Open source research has shown that successful open source projects have a dedicated core group, and this will be based on existing and new participants who want to make things happen. We'll sort out who's who openly, early in our relaunch. We'll develop - in collaboration with participations - some flexible guidelines on how the exchange will operate.

How will you recruit people?

Through the networks we have already developed, and the use of other social networks. A lot of people in the field are now using Facebook, and we see that as a way of making more contacts and experimenting with new media applications. We'll adopt other tools as necessary.

How will the exchange be funded?

In the short term it will be a collective voluntary effort - fueled, we hope, by people's interest in making new contacts and exploring opportunities. We'll look at the possibilities for funding, and also a social entrepreneurial approach to development. We are confident participants will have plenty of ideas.

Will the innovation exchange just be ideas - or will it lead to action?

Both. It will be a place for conversations and contacts, but we will also broker and foster project development. We will aim for outcomes that "benefit society, government or democracy" - and those involved. One way to do that will be to identify some initial project ideas that people can work on together.

New media is a big field. Will you focus?

Yes, and in two areas: applications and services.

Applications: Current thinking is that in the first year we'll concentrate on developing and delivering projects that use the wide range of free and low-cost web applications offered by Google and others. Our aim will be to add value, for example, through co-design with users to evolve customised packages, mixing online, face-to-face and other media, and linking these packages to the use of social networking platforms like Facebook. However, what we do will ultimately depend on those involved.

Services: We will look at how specialist online services can be integrated into and delivered through these applications.

Is participation limited to those in public and nonprofit sectors?

No - anyone is welcome who wants to promote the use of new media for social benefit.

Will the exchange just be online?

No. We believe a mix of online, face to face - and any other form of communication - is essential. We'll organise an open event in the autumn, and through Facebook and the site facilitate other meetups. We will endeavour not to be London-centric.

How is this different from other nonprofit technology networks?

We see the open new media innovation exchange as a complement to groups and networks that support nonprofit use of new media. In the networked society and economy there is no "one place". We aim to complement and add value by focusing on innovation; promoting an open approach; encouraging bottom-up collaboration across sectors; mixing online and face-to-face; turning ideas into feasible projects ... oh, and having fun too!

How do I join in?

Go to http://www.innovationexchange.net where you can read, comment, link, or register and contribute. Or do get in touch directly. Email support@innovationexchange.net ,...or.find us in Facebook at New Media Open Innovation Exchange (shortly).

David Wilcox david@partnerships.org.uk
Simon Berry s.berry@ruralnet.org.uk

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