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Week 2: Research Frameworks

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by kaz k:

Week 2 Overview

We have an itch. We want to scratch it started us off in week one – our first insight! The second is insight; the research framework upon which we base the fundamentals of the innovation. From an online groupscommunities/networks perspective, this implies we have a sense of how to match need to form. This week we are slipping back to the past for a moment to understand how we got to the range of options we have for online interaction today, then we’ll begin to differentiate what those forms and tools can do for our research framework.

Technology has changed what it means to be together. We are no longer confined to geography. With the first networked interaction platform like PLATO in 1973 at the University of Illinois, to today’s wide range of social networking sites, we can “be” together across time and distance. This has impacted our human group formation practices as well. While the term “online community” is used to describe a very diverse set of configurations, it might be helpful to explore more closely the variety this term encompasses. Or even start using more precise language.

To prepare for our conversations, please listen to the 11 minute talk by Howard Rheingold on networks

and Nancy White’s short talks with Matt Moore on this issue. If you want something longer, see “Me, We, the Network” from an IBM presentation (1 hour). Then scan our resources and look for items tagged week2 to see if there are other readings/watchings that might be helpful to you. We did not emphasize these readings in week one, so you might also want to peek at the week 1 resources. Drive your own learning! Pick the readings that resonate with the research and learning agendas you drafted in your blogs last week.

Then join our online conversation about how we use these online forms for open and innovative design.

Below is a graphic recording of a talk Nancy did on this subject a while back. We’re sharing the visual because some of you have already noted the value of using different modalities. Some of you have been sharing your art! (Terrific!)

(click for full sized image)

Discussion # 2: Individuals, Groups and Networks

The rise of “online communities” is not new — for many of you online communities have been around as long as you have been alive. Yet we go through cycles of re invention and discovery based on new perspectives and applications. New technologies give us new ways of “being together.” This diversity presents us with both an opportunity and a challenge. How do we usefully utilize these opportunities for innovation and open design? What forms of online groups serve the “four i’s?” In this discussion we’ll start by differentiating and analyzing different online social networks. Where is the online empowerment of the individual (me?) most useful? Where is the bounded group or team best utilized? Where is the open network, the sweet spot across the four ‘i’s’ ?  How do you strategically choose where to engage for which phase of the innovation cycle? Consider some of the comments about Facebook in week one (social, distraction) And Make sure you watched the videos listed above to start discerning the difference between individual, group/community and network!

Teamwork Activity #2 – Your Group’s Research Framework

In week one you were asked to articulate and define the scope of your group project and post a link for your instructors. This week, your task is to more explicitly state your project research questions and understand where you can gain insights into those questions.

  1. With your group, you will decide who will do what in your research process. By the end of next week you should have:
    • Identified how the “me, we, network” continuum is present in your research area. How are individuals empowered in your area? How are groups and networks contributing? Give examples and if possible, tap your team’s connections and networks and get some first hand accounts. Document this online somewhere and share the URL with your instructors.
  2. Narrow down to 2 online spaces you want to explore within the context of your group’s theme and our context of international development. Note the URL of the the group/community/network(s) you will join or observe, or your proposal to start a new group for your community project.
  3. Identify who will do what on your team and demonstrate any insights you had in making those selections. How are you (or not) tapping into individual’s connections and networks? How are you defining project roles in groups and initial tasks and responsibilities? Document this online somewhere and share the URL with your instructors in the comment section of this page. Again, please pay attention to and make notes on both process and content.


Personal Blog Reflection Prompt #2 – A personal research experiment

Think about your own network(s). Do you use online spaces primarily as an individual, which implies you find and harvest information, but perhaps don’t interact much with others online? Are you a member of defined and bounded groups? Or do you interact along the way as you intersect with others in the wider network? Which is most valuable to you? Which is most comfortable? Explain. If you use Facebook you might enjoy looking at the TouchGraph Facebbook browser tool. Finally, what new area or type of use might you experiment with in your online networks? Create an experiment and begin!

Post your reflection on your Tumblr blog and tag it #week2reflection

Resources to share

18 comments on “Week 2: Research Frameworks
  1. East Field 72 (Group 2) says:

    Last week we researched how social networking can be used to generate investment interest. This week we plan to dive deeper into the specifics of two online platforms we have chosen to work with; and To do this we will analyze both websites in order to better understand how online networks can be used in support raising. We will do this by analyzing three different aspects of each website.

    • Layout
    o Accessibility- ease of use
    o Interface
    o Aesthetics

    • Purpose/History
    o Original mission statement
    o Who are they/Why did they start their endeavor

    • Contents
    o Who is their target population?
    o How do they communicate with their users?
    o How does it work?

    In conclusion we plan to research these topics individually within the four I’s and cumulate our findings to produce an in-depth comparison of both of the two websites approach towards online community support fundraising.

  2. I am really interested in the development of the way we all are using online spaces. I think that as we get older we might start making a shift towards a more professional interaction instead of a social one, thoughts?

    • I disagree; I believe that online networking for professional reasons is limited, as it is too easy to fake an identity it also removes the ability to read body language (something which is key in business) I also believe it is hard to brain storm and generate a good flowing conversation. Therefore business and other professional work will always be best conducted primarily in person. Although it is true that social networks and online communities to ease the process of “breaking the ice”, arranging meeting and asking the quick question.

      • I agree with Geoffrey though, I think that we will have to use our networking communities in a professional manner. I have noticed this in some of my ‘facebook’ friends. They advertise their needs and want on facebook and some even shamelessly promote their causes. I think it will cause some of the fun to be lost out of these networks but also it will cause people to make separations within their social networks, so as not to be bothered with these promotions when doing our social investigation.

        Do I think people will be forced to use their social networks in such a way (by their bosses)? I think so yes. I think businesses will increasingly realize that the word of mouth advertising that facebook provides. So soon they will be asked to join in on the advertising campaigns so to save the company money and so make their employees more money.

        • Rolf Moes says:

          I partially disagree with Bonne. Platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter for professional use only. Ofcourse, business can only be done eye to eye, but these platforms can certainly be used to keep in contact with your professional network.

      • Malte Frisch says:

        I believe that on one hand more and more of the business will be on online networks in future, as there are a lot of advantages for instance for the communication. People are using different networks to present themselves in a professional way like on, what seems to be absolutely essential these days. Further as Tsevetlina already mentioned we did a research in our group on online networks which provide tools to help getting an idea started and bringing the idea from one side of the world to the other one where it is needed. Because of advantages like those I think the interaction will be more and more on the internet.

        But on the other hand I agree with Bonne in a way, because the real professional business won’t be without direct contact from person to person!

      • Bence (Group 6) says:

        I agree with Geoff,

        Social networks might actually start shifting towards more of a business point of view because if you think about it, what are we doing right now? we all created a Facebook group to share ideas across to each other, almost like a business. We also use platforms such as Skype to hold conferences with each other (like talking with Nancy). In my opinion, it’s just like a massive business meeting.

        However I think It is dependent on Age I don’t think you can completely rid the social aspects of a social network (and if it does happen you might need to rename them to business networks). For one, there are soooooo many people using the social networks as a social aspect compared to a business aspect. Then again those who use Facebook to purely chat are probably all under 16. I’m not saying you shouldn’t chat on Facebook when your older, i’m just saying that as you get older, you start to realize that you can actually use things like Facebook to host discussion/ meeting pages in the form of a business.

        I do also agree with Bonne that it could actually get a bit difficult to host meetings online because of various issues such as general connection problems or power cuts and other potential problems. However I do think it’s easier to host an online discussion if for example Bonne is in China and I am in America.

      • Deyna Celestina says:

        Before I started this project I would have agreed with you 100%, but ever since I got to know about innovation marketplaces, I do believe that certain online spaces are successful in retreating professionals.
        For example, the following request was submitted on a Innovation marketplace website I visited recently:

        “Seeking materials suitable to change its permeability to chemical substances when exposed to an external input such as temperature”.

        Under their submissions they add what company they are from and what

        professionals they are looking for:
        Applicant Organization : Zobele Group / Spain
        Organization type : Large company
        Type of Technology Request : Proof of concept
        Industry : Aerospace & defence, Biotechnology, Chemical,Electronics, Power, Others
        Domains of Knowledge : Physics, Chemistry, Engineering & Technology
        Tags : smart material, switchable, membrane, sensor, external inputs

        Clearly, more than one type of expert is needed so that together they can create a solution that satisfies all areas of this request. Most of the requests on the website and on many other innovation marketplaces require the insight of different professionals together, and the professionals actually contribute! I still believe that online spaces will be mainly for social purposes since in my opinion business is indeed something that should be done in person.

  3. shahab says:

    There is an increasing trend toward joining expert communities and networks. In my opinion, experimenting online social networks, generally, leads to a more focused or goal-oriented use. Our cognitive behavior of off-loading is very satisfied by the appearance of online social networks. We are already using our networks as external hard drives/memories. I think understanding/experiencing such applications naturally leads to more purposeful (not necessarily professional) use of the networks and communities.

    Although I agree with Bonne that online networks/communities cannot solve all of our professional needs but I’d say there are lots of examples for successful professional online collaborations. Here I share the video about Linux as an example!

  4. Tsvetelina Obretenova says:

    Surely new technologies give us new ways of “being together”. All the social networks open up the world’s borders for us. They give us of course an opportunity to virtually “meet” people all around the world. The challenge we face every day using these online networks is how to keep ourselves enough social in real life. Of course it is very easy to “meet” people online because sometimes we even forget that we are speaking with real life people, which makes us say things we shouldn’t even to our closest friends. In my opinion, the online social networks are very important for innovation and open design. Of course not all of them can provide us with all the “four i’s” but we can use all of them to spread our ideas and to find ourselves some followers for our projects so we can make them world wide known easier. These bounded groups of people who follow one’s idea, goal, visions, or projects are very useful when an innovator of any kind wants his or her idea to be spread across the world in order for it to be improved and actually to make it happen. There are online social networks that are only used for sharing ideas and visions but there are also many networks where you can not only share your ideas but can also get feedback on whether they will work out and can also provide you ways on how you can actually fund your successful looking idea. Our group (Group 7) is making a research on such networks like and, which can provide an innovator a platform where he or she can go through the whole process of making an idea a reality.

  5. Johan Bagkoutsa says:

    I really do think that online networks are getting more and more involved in business,
    The perfect example is which enables you to find suppliers about different products in different countries. I use it all the time to find the products on which i want to start a business on and it is very helpful. But this is just one example of a ton of other networks that connect businesses together and make online international trading possible.

    I think that the social networks that we mostly use are not suitable for business. Every serious business that i know of keeps in touch with e-mail because it’s more private and business to a certain point is private. So i think we should keep social networks just as a form to create a public image for our company, maybe even try to connect a bit more to our clients but never to actually do business on them because the ways we do business might be of the linking of someone and disliking of someone else so that would be very bad for our ‘online image’

    The way that networks have evolved has made able for everyone to gain the necessary knowledge about a product and how to deal with it and for me this is where we should start. Right at the beginning of the itch and not at the end product. If we as open innovators could find what are the most searched products or the most searched problems regarding different products could help us design something better and who knows, we could even become ‘Open Improvers’.

  6. Bence (Group 6) says:

    As part of ideas & Networks, We (group 6) are going to relate the majority of the questions asked to social networks such as Facebook, Skype, forums, etc…

    On social networks it’s easy to ask questions, therefore ideas are easily shared and discussions (such as this) can be viewed and replied to. Also the shared ideas on these discussions can be fused together to create new ideas or even be incorporated into already existing ones.
    Since there are social networking sites and other sites that have a certain purpose such as sharing pictures, the combination of both enables anyone to use either online community to gain as much and diverse information possible.
    We think that groups that serve the four I’s are groups of open minded people that will accept change and exchange ideas to discuss with the minds of others. These are made through comments and pictures which allow ideas to grow. (such as Facebook, Kickstarter and Forums)
    A common conclusion to come upon would be the fact that communication is one of the (or most) important and most useful ways of getting ideas across to others. Another point to tag along with communication is how important the way we share ideas is. Sharing media in different forms can influence people’s minds dramatically. Wouldn’t it be so much nicer if you could watch a video with graphical representations of your ideas? In our opinion it would be much more pleasing and easier to understand than having to read a long boring passage,
    Best utilities vary from platform to platform. If we relate it to Skype, the team would best utilise the conference/group video call function. Facebook: groups, communication and chat. Forums: images and the chat feature. Other websites: ease of access Multimedia sharing capabilities between all users

    In the first phase of the innovation cycle, we believe that research would be needed to find out what the majority of the population are looking for. Then focus on a specific target group – that are already part of similar groups and interview them on what they like / dislike about current products. Then asking specialised people (relevant to the field) what functions of the product would need to be implemented to help with the innovation of the product.

  7. Moise Andrei says:

    Very well put Johan, i totally agree that social networks should be used mostly for the “online image” of the company.
    There are methods of finding which are the most searched products and problems, but that, i would say, is not where we should begin. Each product and problem are part of a specific niche. We should first analyse the niche that we would like to enter and search in that group which likes and dislikes exist (do-able through a social network).
    Coming back to business in a social network, my opinion is that a good social marketing strategy is the key to start a business because it’s where the customers are. Take a look at AXE.

  8. Nancy White says:

    Hi all… Great conversation. I have one observation to share and a quick story.

    Observation: there are some great opinion written above. So me of you have more experience with different online spaces than others. There are also quite a few opinions . It may be useful to start exploring the assumptions underneath those opinions and doing some research and collection both quantitative and qualitative data to check those assumptions. For example, check Pew Internet Research about types of onlline business networking. Read stories on mobile to see how mobile technologies are creating significant agricultural online market value chain systems or health and education systems. Google about trust online in business. Explore participatory development in international development. In other words, go beyond your own experience and opinion.

    Second, I am currently at AIN12′ a conference on applied improvisation in business. One of yesterday’s learning journey was to Stanford University’s design school. Th
    E had a design process very simple to your universities with those “i’s” but they had one more to start everything off… EMPATHY. How do you foster empathy online? and here is a hint… You can!

    Waving from San Francisco…more when I am out of the conf Sunday night

  9. busra says:

    My group (group 3) is researching different online networks which can offer useful tools for society. And it varies from one platform to platform. So as to oppose to Bonne and johan, there are actually great online networks for businesses. So I agree with Shahab! Besides that, online networking is very practical and quick. Let’s think of an international big business, which has many other companies around the world. Online networking and communication is so much handy over here, since you wouldn’t have to travel around the globe just to update or check up on these companies. Working offline in this case, is unhealthy, expensive (might not worry about this), wastes a lot of time.
    I also agree with Bonne, with the fact that online networking can’t offer professional business customer-wise. For example, this particular bussines people (in Greece) want to work with my father so they decided to come all the way from Greece to Holland to meet him. I was talking to the manager, and he was surprised. He told me that these guys (in Greece) are probably very enthusiastic, motivated, and confident, believe in this idea and want actually ‘to-do’ business in reality, since they chose visual communication instead of online communication. He said that this gives them a good impression; he is now very keen, positive and interested in them. So, already these guys have partially persuaded the company that this idea can be successful due to this visual communication. Okay, video-calling (with friends can be fun and emotional) yet for business it is serious and still is distant (might sound weird, but you can’t use your senses well for example feeling and touching). You can’t imagine how much shaking hands makes a difference in business. S0 there is sensual communication which online networking can’t provide.

    ——->Another example, we all had to do an interview intake billion years ago (big exaggeration, 2 months ago). I felt soooooooo nervous while doing this interview because I was responding to a screen. Who would rather have a visual face-to-face interview? ME! It’s because when you see the person, you can analyse how he responds to the way you are talking, and somehow you feel much closer.
    SO-> Just like how Johan said, maybe online networking should only be used for “online images” of the company. But limitation again, to what extent are these true?

    In my opinion, the real problem lies in the fact that these people who make this technology revolution, are forgetting that we are humans hence technology can never replace this (we have imagination, thoughts, emotions which possibly can’t be analyzed through networks etc). Even though technology is helping us I agree, it slowly is eating us away, limiting to what technology can offer itself.
    ——->E.g Lecture today about Cultural Differences our teacher Orlando Meulens confessed to us that he only writes his signature on paper.
    In the future we might loose these abilities, senses, because we will be too dependent on technology that we would just forget perhaps? And again, who causes technological revolutions? Human wants. Maybe we should start asking what we need?

    I agree with Miue: Checking which products and which problems people searched a lot wouldn’t be a good beginning. We have to start at the core, to understand hence become “improving innovators”. That is, who are these people? What is their environment like? What do they need? I also believe in social marketing!

  10. Felix Scha says:

    I hope that besides business, which was already mentioned, the borders between clients, entrepreneurs, persons seeking help and experts disappear. In the internet there is a certain anonymity so that everyone could learn from everyone, shares ideas, sells and buys. A constantly changing, living network of ideas and project realization. In addition I believe that there would be a certain swarm-feeling so that there would be no inhuman development which busra fears but definitely a development to better, more sustainable solutions that enriches our life.

  11. I do see Busra’s point that there still is no equivalent to a hand shake in the virtual world and I also appreciate the relevance of this small act when making business. However recently I heard the story of a friend of mine how recently started his own online business. He created a computer repair and surveillance company in Indonesia and he somehow he is able to manage this company from his computer at home in delft, hiring local people to install camera’s and fix computer by commission. The point is this physical interaction can facilitate negotiating however it is not essential, also i believe that gradually businesses will evolve and migrate to this virtual world.

  12. Laura Stevens says:

    Going back to what Nancy said… Please check those assumptions… Remember assume makes an “ass” out of “u” and “me”…. Just joking here guys, but seriously, see if anyone can get some facts through research.

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