My first time at reboot, and I really enjoyed it. At the beginning I felt there was too much hot air, but then I really liked the design and inspiration that the overall discussion gave me. I particularly enjoyed the mix of non-technical talk, and technical hands-on workshops.
Overall very inspiring especially as a way to organize conferences: incredible how interesting workshop were added on the same day. I loved the light management touch applied to it, and hope to apply it elsewhere. In particular, it was important to get confirmation on the importance of design skills in today complex world.
Anyway, the real reason I was there, was to discuss in a workshop set up by the EC and Nadia the future of EU ICT policies. We all recognized the problem: the ICT innovation policies are SO FAR from ICT innovation practice. We need to get them closer, to bridge the gap. The discussion was a bit messy, as the gap is so wide it is even difficult to nail it down. But it was useful and important, with good and relevant input. In particular, I liked Alberto Cottica points on the risk of having big american companies as infrastructure of public services 2.0; Gianluca Dettori real-life description of the differences between the perspective of a venture capitalist and of government business incubators. And Robin Chase’s social transport projects are so important!
Myself, I tried to give a fresh view of an “insider”. I argued that the main problem of EU ICT research policies is their self-referentiality: they tend to involve always the usual suspects. EU ICT research is getting too boring!!!
I therefore plead for openness to fight self-referentiality. Openness means applying, as I argued some time ago, the peer-to-patent model to project selection for funding (peer-to-project): project proposals should be published, and anybody could comment and rate comments. Government should then decide, using the input of the crowd, but not costrained by it. I also pleaded for a peer-to-policy initiative, in order to make EU policies “up to wikipedia quality standards”.
Finally, I made a new proposal: innovation policies should aim to expose to the serendipity of positive black swans, as Taleb puts it. You need a more flexible model which leaves room for unpredictable outcomes, also in applied research.
I therefore suggested to adopt the art funding model, in particular as adopted by public service broadcasting. When the BBC commissions a creative project, it knows that the result will not be fully in line with the proposal, that they could change during the creative process. Indeed, that is how FLICKR was built, as Ben Cerveny explained to me at iMinds. It was funded by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a game project , but then turned into the most successful photo sharing website. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only major web2.0 services which was created thanks mostly to public money.
We should learn some lessons from this. Could art funding provide a new paradigm for innovation policies?