Digital social innovators in urban ecosystems. Any comments on a project proposal on this topic?

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!


Hey Chiara this connects with some of the topics we discussed with @marina and @martin about how different people understand the world and how this maps onto which human drives trigger us. We were discussing this in the context of geoscience which has a nice link to a conversation happening next week at the reef with community organiser for extinction rebellion… ping @alberto and @noemi .

Also there are several elements here which overlap with the topics that we are touching upon in the internet of humans discussion. Thinking about the chat with Mu in particular @hugi


There are three possibilities.

First: you generate your own data, getting the people that you are interested in to discuss on the Edgeryders platform. Advantages: GDPR/ethics compliant, in-platform ethnographic coding, support for SSNA via JSON APIs. In this case, you can learn about our approach to data (and copy whatever you want for your application in this document. Disadvantages: convening an online conversation is not easy, and you would have to do it yourself. We can set up a project space for you on the platform, and of course give you training and support, but you would be the only dedicated-and-paid person for the project.

Second. You find data that you can reuse, ideally in conversational form. In that case, the data will be what they will be. In order to code them, you need to either store them on the platform first, or code them with your own means. Advantages: no time spent in “pushing” an online conversation. Disadvantages: now you have to secure the whole chain of research activities (data protection compliance, research ethics compliance, import for compatibility with our software…).

Third. You pivot your research into something that blends with existing ER research. For example, you could be looking at “digital municipalism” (Barcelona, Amsterdam etc. trying to step into the breach of technology regulation and infrastructure provision). This could become a branch of the Internet of Humans study. In this case, you would be much more integrated with the company and its research team, and have access to its other activities, like communication and community management.

Good Morning All :slightly_smiling_face:- the purpose of MSCA is to provide training through research and to enhance the professional perspectives of the fellow. The qualification / capability of the host organisation to secure these overarching goals plays a roll when assessing the proposal. For hosts that are established structures (e.g. universities) this qualification / capability may seem evident (in the eyes of the evaluator); and possibly for a range of research subjects. For edgeryders the match ‘qualification / capability’ v. ‘reserach subject’ likely needs care and analysis. Possibly a visit to the resposnible HoU in the Research Executive Agency (REA, Brussles, Pl.Rogier) to explore the matter would be advisable. The adice will not be a do/don’t but some insight ‘about possible obstacles’ may be learned. Furhermore, if that ‘approach to funding’ is explored then a longer term strategy is needed that would not be dropped if the first application has little success. best regards, Martin


Hi all, thanks for your reply and suggestions!

@Noemi and @Alberto: usefull suggestions about revising the proposal with a different pivot to make it better fitting with the #ioh research. From the one side this makes it possible to establish closer collaborations with Edgeryders community (which is one of the purposes of the call itself), and from the other it seems the best strategy for retrieving data without incourring in the disadvantages of the first and second possibilities. I think it makes sense to keep referring to the results of existing EU projects in the field, so to mark a difference in terms of approach and strategy of research. Very useful the concise document about ssna and Edgeryders’ approach to data and remarks on of GDPR - something to deal with carefully.

@martin Good point. We (me and @marina) already discussed with lithuanian NCP about the about the operational capacity of Edgeryders in acting as a host organisation. Apparently there are no obstacles and we got as a final suggestion " not to emphasize the virtual nature of the team, but to describe the premises, working conditions, and integration to the team on those premises". Again I have been told that “the H2020/MSCA system might not be really prepared for the new type of company that is registered in one country, has premises in another country, and a freelance work force operating all over the world. It is, in most parts, uncharted territory!”. Similar claims sound to me as a challenge to make the system confronting with what is happening at the …Edge! However, your point is correct. Time and energy are limited and is not a good idea to waste them. So, I will make contact witht the REA to explore possibile obstacles before proceeding.
About “plan B”, of course have some alternatives in mind but it really depends on what’s will come up in terms of calls for both individual or collective research. A first attempt is something one can work upon for others.

Cheers, Chiara

Followed @martin suggestion and contacted the REA (talked with the MSCA Society and Enterprises project manager, Francesco Fusco). I’m reporting to you all as this could be useful for somebody else interested in the call.

Apparently there are no reasons for Edgeryders not to submit proposals as hosting organisation, the capability is only assessed in the evaluation phase. This could be problematic in case Edge is submitting dozens of msca proposal per year - which I don’t think to be happening.

About the qualification v. research subject, it is the proponent’s task to make them fitting.

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