Using online networks to maximum effect (Work Package 8)


The overall objective of WP8 is to understand and measure the social innovation enabled by new networking and collaboration tools made available over the Internet. A specific aim will be to identify ways of optimizing the positive impact of these tools on social innovation. 

Description of work

Many new digital and online tools and techniques are currently being explored, some in the social innovation field, but increasingly in the private sector and in government from where lessons can be learnt. The explosive growth of so-called Web 2.0 tools and social media is noteworthy. Many of these are claimed to provide powerful ‘architectures for participation’ by moving users on from being passive recipients of information to being active contributors and active users of content on a large scale through co-creation and collaboration. These include mass collaboration techniques like social networking, idea management, MESH dynamics, value rating, crowd sourcing, social bookmarking and folksonomies, blogs and wikis. In addition, changes in technology platforms (cloud and grid), the nature of digital data formats are starting to enable experimentation with very large scale networked and distributed content and services, semantic applications based on open ontologies shared across communities, the ability to exploit massive data resources, argument and opinion analysis, as well as policy design, simulation and trade-off testing using data mining, pattern recognition, visualisation and gaming techniques.

This workpackage will scan and map these technology developments, the types of tools and techniques being made available, their use contexts, and the impacts they are having. For example, although there are numerous typologies, basic distinctions among online tools can be made between networks (relationships and collaboration between people, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter), platforms (facilitating cooperation and work processes like wikis, Wordpress, Debategraph, crowdmap), publication outlets (like YouTube, Flicker) and feedback facilities (like rating, surveys, commenting, blogging).

Tasks include:

  • Mapping the development of online collaboration and networking tools
  • Meta analysis of the role of communities and networks in social innovation and the impact of ICT
  • In-depth case studies of online tools supporting social innovation
  • Gap analysis of policies and practices
  • Recommendations for policies, framework conditions and practices at European, national and sub-national levels