In the last weeks I have been discussing with Alberto and Marina about the possibility to submit a proposal for a H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions with Edgeryders acting as host organisation.
I’d like to check with you whether you think this might fit with Edgeryders’ goals and interests, so I wrote down in a few lines below what my proposal is about.
The topic of the proposal falls within the areas of urban studies and digital social innovation; and - in consideration of Edge’s expertise - the methodology I would like to adopt (and learn about) is the web-based ethnography.
My aim is to explore the characters of urban contexts that support the emergence of digital social innovation initiatives (or however you prefer to call them) from the perspective of its makers, i.e. what are the conditions that allow innovators to innovate? how and when a city turns into a digital social innovation-supporting ecosystem?
To answer this question we can explore how the processes of ideation and realization of social innovation work, what are the elements that facilitate or hinder them, and why some cities manage to support it and make it last over time.
This investigation builds upon one of the deliverables of the DSI4EU project which attempted at providing an index to rank (some) European cities in terms of influential factors fuelling social innovation, and the final results of SIdrive projects. The authors of the report claimed that it is not possible to understand (on the base of statistical macro-data retrieved from international organisations’ urban dataset) what these factors are Therefore, they claim to be unable to explain apparent oddities or even contradictions in the results. I think the effort is valuable but the difficulty derives from the adopted perspective.
On the contrary I want to know what a supporting innovation ecosystem is from the perspective of innovators, as I believe that the phenomenon can be only understood if one investigate (digital) social innovation in the making from the perspective of its makers. Etnographic analysis could work well to this end, and also SSNA.
To explore the innovator’s ecosystems in Europe I think the semantic social network analysis can be used as the key methodology for the project, with some complementary bibliometrics and web mapping for the background research and some in-deep interviews to key-informants and on-the-field opinion collection.
SSNA can be used for the analysis of online conversation of digital social innovators communities, with the intent of mapping links and patterns that allow some communities to grow up; and of connecting them with specific locations where experiences are performed (as social innovations is always a way to deal with specific issues felt by somebody, somewhere).
The social innovators community - apart from Edgeryders itself- can be partnered in the project and asked permission to work on their conversation.
On this point I would need your help. The MSCA project proposal does not need to be detailed in technical terms but some specification about the data collection and analysis would help. Do you think it feasible?
The main focus of MC action is training by researching and the mutual profitability of the matching should be demonstrated.
In working with you, I could get to know how to use SSNA (i.e. gaining technical competence) and experience research in private institutions; in working with me you can have somebody else testing your key methodology in a different research field, and embedding my competence in urban studies and critical social studies.
Just a quick note on terms. I know you might not like the definition “digital social innovation”. I have no particular reason for using it instead of any other with the same meaning
Look forward to hearing from you!