Social Innovation Sign Post

Submitted by ydubel on Tue, 2011-03-08 09:30. ::

The implications of “the cloud” for CRM technology solutions  and the FOSS ecosystem are considerably more obvious  than its promise in art as social innovation.

Creating a space for experimentation, collaboration, discovery and knowledge sharing  is one of the most powerful enablers an organization can provide. Clearly there is an opportunity to define specific markets that can benefit from this new generation of “knowledge workers”, early adapters to open innovation offering services which strengthen social impacts. Collaborations at portals like iFOSSF take shape around projects that help address achievement of the Millennium Development Goals or RFPs aligned  with iFOSSF Strategic Programs.  

Interdisciplinary work is undertaken by members of communities of practice that have formed to support that shared vision. Technology solutions are therefore seen from diverse perspectives that define different aspects of project context and stage in its life cycle. At another level, however, government  or enterprise solutions are especially important because of the role  they play in providing and facilitating infrastructure access, maintenance and development. One aspect of interest in Cultural Fusion is developing a more inclusive understanding , where systems thinking is applied to social, physical and technological infrastructure as layered concept.


The value of the interoperability  afforded by FOSS  can be enhanced by  building on existing knowledge to reduce learning curves.  One objective being to develop intuitive  user interfaces to adequately serve more diverse populations while reducing costs by creating reusable tool  sets and scalable processes or infrastructure. Government initiatives , markets and community needs help prioritize opportunities

Source: :

“Social innovation is the flow of new ideas and entrepreneurial initiatives that reinvents how our society is structured.

The Canadian Federal government has discussed the potential of Social Innovation to policy makers in this research, highlighting how it blends together both business as well as community innovation”.



One of the most powerful things organizations can do to facilitate innovation is move away from risk mitigation as an acting perspective and control of flows, and towards better management of transitions in the context of experimentation or discovery. The Cultural Fusion House of Cards Installation is conceptualized as part of this line of thinking - it is an artwork seeking support. Below is the diagram sparked by a conversation with Pauline Sameshima where I explained why I was expanding Art Based inquiry and that led to a related collaboration that has produced one piece ("Bloodtrails")accepted for publication. 



Click to see the first prototype study for an interactive digital installation concept 


                                                                                            Click the image to see enlarged




 In Cartographic Storytelling for a Changing World:The Pedagogical Praxis of Home in School from Pauline Sameshima, Ph.D.

"In thinking

about systems theory and the interdependence of

living and learning, the only way I can attempt to

think about sustainability is to think about what is

closest to me – that the system can only change

with each individual making the change; yet even

then, the broader system must always be

considered. Education is simply one facet of a

larger system in distress. Social, economic and

technological shifts are impacting us all. Education

traditions must change. The figure at this site:


Cards.html] broadly presents ideas of proactively

directing “The Landscape—social, economic and

technological” (Dubel, 2008). This illustration

presents the larger system ...

The figure is used to model this systems thinking

approach because I feel that the problematic issues

facing [youngsters] today often result from their

inability to see the broader ramifications, or

thinking about the big picture. Most children work

on assignments and stand alone concepts with little

understanding of how one subject is connected to



Now that is where the concept started. At the time I had no solid idea of how to build it but I did have an understanding of how the space needed to work...began talking to some people about Squeak programming to operate the interactive site specific displays and their virtual counter parts. In researching projection and touch screen systems I felt myself grow more committed to exploring software art that also fulfills CRM functionality. As a radical rethinking of CRM, its value is greatly enhanced by development in a context that integrates what I call Clear CRM Strategy as a white label system customized for Cultural Fusion Art as Philosophy. Since it does not seem to be a function of art general but Art specific, the distinction of Source:Art feels valid here as it has emerged from my initial quest to find alternatives to protest art that do not turn away from the challenges that frighten, enrage or inspire us.

The concept of Art Based solution is encapsulated in the reality that one large scale work or series can include a number of solutions. cfAaP House of Cards, for example, requires the grassroots community work to develop core content for the installation or related performances. At the same time the performances and events within the installation operate as fundraisers or marketing for community organizations, artists, services or products involved in realizing the vision for the Art:Work. Then the installation itself is a "sponsored product" that also markets &/or demonstrates sustainable products. 


Since then it has evolved from the early disappointments with the house of card studies to be re-envisioned to built the installation using ConstruKsTM units as the construction model. Many elements of the original concept remain but by changing the construction approach it all makes more sense. It also works to help market this new product and the new social enterprise projects that will grow from developing them as part of this art installation. 

It will also mark the start of a more extended collaboration to develop the Cultural Fusion pilot projects for regional economic development to increase social enterprises. Once this phase of the project is funded, the business plan for cfAaP would be enacted to help develop social enterprise operations creating jobs, using recycled materials, and creating new businesses to meet the need for regional flood disaster preparedness. 

"ConstruKsTM are designed to use nature's own ballast as a filler: sand to build a seawall or prevent beach erosion; gravel to prevent waterway meandering; soil to protect roadways and bridge abutments; rocks to prevent landslides 

- and you can even STACK WATER as a dam or levee for rapid flood control. 

ConstruKsTM can be installed by unskilled labor and filled with flood water** that is returned to the tributary saving hours of heavy work and sand disposal. (** membrane system required). Reduced flood insurance rates are the potential reward for enhancing our failing levee infrastructure and protecting our communities.

ConstruKsTM can also use seawater to fill barricades that stop a floating oil spill from reaching shore - or use desert sand for protecting troops from enemy fire. Any topography, any type structure, and designed for a host of benefits - it just works, naturally."   Source:


 Working with the Non-Traditional


Projects like this don't lend themselves to traditional business thinking and so likewise traditional business plans are not the ideal communication tool. If this is less than obvious, consider how do you do realistic projections for a market that doesn't yet exist? With an enterprise in the business of launching new social enterprises and countless products serving multiple niche markets, how many pages of that business plan would you actually read? Initially, I was excited about the idea of taking a vacation to focus on writing the Cultural Fusion business plan as an allegory - in the meantime, I have written a five page plan (give or take a page) for an investment of five million over three years.


Social Impact Bonds offer a viable model for social financing that can be customized to support community innovation.  One reason for doing this is to open this space for innovation.   Remember that as an invention the light bulb would have had much less impact had it not also brought along the infrastructure and marketing  to service the marketplace.

Energy sold by the kilowatt ===>to power Light Bulb (new invention)===>fueling new market of light fixtures and maintenance

Can you imagine trying to convince people to invest in the infrastructure needed to make the light bulb a viable product?

I believe similar limitations have held back the social enterprise sector.

One way forward is to explore modifying the current small business innovation research (SBIR) programs work as a channel for social impact bonds to take new product concept through R&D to commercialization with nonprofit  partners as equity type investors to support organizations/program sustainability. This also anchors mutual rewards for those served and those providing the service, service recipients then become a fundamental part of the organizations support network.  Furthermore, there is an increase in  social capital that can be leveraged to help reduce or offset financial costs of doing business or operations.

Programmatic themes : Open Data , Collective Intelligence and Open Innovation - for sustainable development and  social innovation