Archive

European Electricity Network

Unleashing the Power of Networks and Data: The Electric Grid as the New Internet

13.06.2024

I have to confess that it took me a while to grasp why the energy transition to electricity makes such a significant difference. Using electricity as the primary energy supply for electronic goods, heating, and even industrial production will move the majority of energy consumption into the electric grid. Having larger parts of energy consumption in the same network is an incredible challenge, but also an amazing opportunity to build a network with a range of effects that the fossil energy supply logic could not ever offer.

Network Size and Distribution: The Smart Grid

From a network and data point of view, fossil energy supply is quite primitive. Oil pipelines transport one way to their recipients. It is simply channeled to a refinery, to a petrol station, and then ends in a car to produce energy that is used only to about 30%. It is a small pipeline network that always goes in one direction.

Electricity is far different from fossil energy as it flows in a growing bidirectional network that is already way bigger than oil or gas networks. See the two images from Openinframap.org for comparison to see the density of the electric grid in Europe.

European Electricity Network

Electricity Network

European Oil and Gas Network

Oil and Gas NetworkSource: https://openinframap.org

Furthermore, an electric grid can be used in a highly decentralized manner. Even a household with a balcony solar panel contributes back to the network.

Smart Phone Digital Literacy Plattform

Defining the Boundaries of Digital Public Infrastructure: Narrow and Broad Perspectives

06.06.2024

Digital public infrastructure (DPI) is a hot topic in digital government. The concept represents the public sector's attempt to regain control from an overly dominant private sector, particularly big tech, which controls much of the digital infrastructure, platforms, digital payments, instant messaging etc.

UNDP defines digital public infrastructure as:

A set of interoperable digital solutions built on open standards and specifications, providing access to public and private services at societal scale, governed by enabling rules to drive innovation, inclusion, and competition. (UNDP)

However, this technical definition reduces the concept to solutions, overlooking the broader challenges of a predominantly privately-owned Internet and the need for a public Internet.

Digital public infrastructure raises a crucial question: which digital areas or services should be at least partially or fully under public ownership? If governments are responsible for public infrastructure like sidewalks, schools, and hospitals, why doesn't this extend to the digital space? Currently, most governments limit their online presence to citizen services.

DPI should spark a discussion on why the digital space, including network architecture, social networks, and instant communication, is almost exclusively privately controlled, leading to a closed Internet and stifled innovation. Ironically, the Internet itself is a digital public infrastructure.

Network graph of Matrix protocol

The Rise of Open Source: Challenges and Opportunities in the Eventual Fall of Proprietary Software

12.05.2024

The past decades in the software world have been dominated by the clash between open source and proprietary software. There are ongoing debates about the pros and cons of the two variants of creating, maintaining, and selling software. More fundamentally, the debate revolves around the concept of software as a digital commons —a resource that can be freely accessed, used, and shared by anyone. This picture becomes clear when you visit GitHub or GitLab and browse through the different software repositories that are completely open in their code base, as well as in their discussions and development history.

In my view, the pro and con debate for open source vs. proprietary software is somewhat of a distraction. First, open source was demonized, then it became successful in certain areas, and now it is discussed in terms of pros and cons until it becomes the standard modus operandi. In reality, the software development industry is already changing its business models, attempting to extend the vendor lock-in logic from proprietary software businesses. Now it is called „software as a service“, and ironically, these services themselves rely largely on open source software. They are basically already working on business models using open source software without contributing much back to the open source community. This is a new form of vendor lock-in, where the software used is mostly open source, but the services are not.

The Whole World is using Open Source Software and Contributing Little Back

Major technology companies have anticipated this trend and are strategically releasing machine learning libraries, such as Google's TensorFlow and Meta's PyTorch, as open-source software. While this may seem like a generous gesture, it is primarily intended to incentivize users to utilize their cloud technology offerings (e.g. Google) when working with these libraries. However, big tech companies rely heavily on open source software, which has already led to licensing issues, and only a tiny fraction of their software is released as open source.

Should we bring educational material to smartphones, or stick with books?

The Potential and Limitations of AI Chatbots as Learning Assistants in Education

29.04.2024

Can AI chatbots be helpful for education? The idea is intriguing, considering that most children worldwide have direct or indirect access to a smartphone. Imagine opening WhatsApp to find your personal tutor that can answer "all" your questions. This vision drives many pilot projects and digital learning platforms like Duolingo, the Khan Academy, and Squirrel, which I wrote about some time ago. Can the human-like conversation we are now getting used to from ChatGPT lead to such a personal tutor in your pocket?

The intricacy of learning is frequently underestimated when new AI initiatives are lauded.

Breaking Down the Potential and Challenges of AI Chatbots in Education

To understand the potential and challenges, one must break down the topic into different pieces. What subjects could they train on? A chatbot for highly standardized subjects like math or natural science differs from one teaching the interpretation of a novel. Although grammar rules of a language can be taught through quizzes and tests, online learning already contributes significantly to education. However, learning to deal with complex situations and scenarios, critical in many life and business situations, is very difficult to teach when communicating with a machine. No technology can replicate the engaging, interactive atmosphere created by a live instructor and learning in a group of students. Therefore AI chatbots can only be used for a limited set of subjects and tasks.

Smart Phone Digital Literacy Plattform

From Tangible to Intangible: The Evolution of Global E-commerce in the Digital Age

14.04.2024

Ecommerce: The Difference between Physical and Digital Goods

As the digital economy continues to grow, so do non-tangible products. Often, when discussing ecommerce online, the focus is solely on selling physical goods. However, it is important to distinguish between the two domains of selling physical products and digital products or services because they have entirely different business models. Physical products require inventory and storage, as well as relying on certain logistics. Platforms like Shopify have built a whole ecosystem to support small business owners in selling their products, while Etsy offers a platform for selling artisanal products from the comfort of one's own home. Physical products also face geographical challenges when sold internationally; the recent example of Brexit causing complicated customs regulations has significantly impacted many small online retailers' businesses. I have written more about this issue here.

Selling digital products and services has become much easier online. In the past, during the early 2000s, not many people would have been willing to pay for online courses, excel templates, or ebooks because payment systems were not available and these types of digital products were not widely offered. However, over the last decade, there has been a significant shift in this trend as online courses and templates for various services (such as Notion) have emerged as potential sources of revenue.

Palm Leaf

The End of Abundance? The Unsustainable Hunger of Large Language Models

05.04.2024

Artificial intelligence models are like insatiable giants, constantly needing to grow in size in order to produce better results. This is particularly true for large language models (LLM) such as ChatGPT, Claude, or LLama. While not all AI models need to be large, these language models require billions of lines of text to function effectively. Openai has not disclosed the exact source material used for their ChatGPT models, but experts speculate that it includes a vast amount of publicly available information from the internet as well as books and news articles. This has led to legal disputes, such as the New York Times suing Openai. The larger and more diverse the input of text, the stronger the model will be. This is why ChatGPT excels in broader topics with extensive content available, but may struggle in more specialized subjects. Additionally, much of human knowledge cannot be readily, if at all, codified or documented, which is frequently overlooked amidst the excitement surrounding large language models.

The Unified Payment Interface -  a part of India's digital public infrastructure

India's cashless transition and the role of the public sector

31.03.2024

The transformation of India's economy from cash reliance to digital transactions marks a remarkable departure from trends in Europe and the USA.

As recently as 2019, cash was king in India, with 70% of all trade turnover conducted in banknotes. Fast forward to just three fours later, and this figure has dramatically dropped to 27%. This drastic shift means that now, two out of three payments in India are digital—a significant change for a country where only 20% of the population used the internet in 2018, according to the World Bank.

This contrasts sharply with other nations. While China leads the charge toward a cashless future, Japan and the EU still see a substantial portion of transactions in cash, at 60% and around 50%, respectively. (Source)

Catalysts Behind Digital Payment Adoption

Key to this digital surge is the proliferation of mobile phones and affordable mobile internet. Jio Platforms, for example, cut data costs by 95% since 2013, boosting Indian data consumption twentyfold.

E-Waste Dump site

E-Waste Recycling: Addressing the Issue from the Wrong End

26.03.2024

As the digital economy expands, so does its technological waste—a critical issue I've been highlighting since 2007. In 2022, a record 62 million tonnes of e-waste was produced, marking an 82% increase from 2010. This staggering volume of waste underscores the immense challenge we face. Computers and other devices demand a plethora of resources, including rare earth elements, each new device necessitating further extraction from the Earth. This reality presents a significant environmental dilemma.

Many PC manufacturers tout recycling as a universal solution. Yet, this perspective is not only overly simplistic but also problematic. It shifts the responsibility onto end consumers to manage waste and neglects the fact that no device is fully recyclable, with only 60% of materials potentially recoverable.

Rows of employees talking to a chatbot

The digital history of knowledge management and the advent of ChatGPT

20.03.2024

A year has passed since ChatGPT's launch, and amidst the buzz, it's clear that chatbot assistants have significantly impacted the knowledge work domain. Yet, the specifics of where and how they influence remain somewhat nebulous. To gain a clearer understanding, examining the effect of AI bots on knowledge management—a field that has seen modest progress since the advent of the read-write web, or social media—is essential. Given that content creation and sharing are crucial for knowledge management, what role does generative AI play in this process?

Over the past 20 years, I've observed a fascinating trajectory: a journey that began with the celebration of knowledge management, transitioned into the data "revolution", and now, perhaps, is circling back to the core essence of knowledge itself.

To fully grasp the potential and implications of large language models like ChatGPT in the realm of knowledge management, considering the objectives of knowledge management and its digital evolution proves helpful.

Small Package delivery

E-Commerce's Dual Realities and Their Impact on Small Online Businesses Globally

13.03.2024

E-commerce, likened to a coin with two distinct sides, embodies the dichotomy between digital and physical goods and products. This metaphor illustrates not just the diversity of e-commerce but also the unique challenges and opportunities each side presents.

Digital Products and Services: A Transformational Landscape

The landscape of digital products has undergone a radical transformation since the 2000s. Initially, the concept of purchasing digital services online was met with skepticism. However, the advent of social media and e-commerce ecosystems, such as Shopify, revolutionized this space. These platforms democratized online sales, enabling virtually anyone to market their products from the comfort of their living room, provided they reside in the right country.

This digital boom has seen a surge in the sale of online courses, ebooks, and even Excel templates on platforms traditionally associated with handmade goods, like Etsy. Even seemingly niche products, like sales templates for the information platform Notion, have millions of users.

Report cover page

Big Tech and Privacy in Humanitarian Aid: Access Now's Digital Challenge Insights

08.03.2024

I was intrigued by the latest report from Access Now entitled "Mapping Humanitarian Tech: Exposing protection gaps in digital transformation programmes." Why? Because it delves into both the potential and challenges of using digital solutions, data, and new innovations to increase effectiveness in the development sector. The report sheds light on the complexity of implementing digital innovations for NGOs, the growing dominance of big tech companies as solution providers, and the lack of consideration for data protection among some actors.

According to the report, the humanitarian field is currently dominated by a small number of organizations primarily based in Europe or North America. These organizations hold most of the public's attention, control over data circulation, and a significant portion of available funding.

The author of the report, Giulio Coppi, and his team highlight two main developments in the use of digital technologies within the humanitarian sector:

More broadly, we believe that two converging processes are unfolding: the transformation of some humanitarian actors into tech services providers, and the transformation of tech companies into de facto humanitarian service providers.

Ein Bürogebäude nur mit Computern.

ChatGPT at Work: Studies on the Impact on Work Practices, Job Landscape, and Freelancers

01.03.2024

ChatGPT has been an integral part of many people's working lives for a year now. The extensive press coverage and numerous testimonials, despite the sometimes erroneous content, impressively underline the importance of these assistance systems. Initial studies show productivity gains through the use of ChatGPT, as these systems can provide support for a variety of tasks, but the impact on certain job roles can be serious.

An insightful study into the motivations of knowledge workers to use ChatGPT is "Why do people use ChatGPT? Exploring user motivations for generative conversational AI" from December 20231. This study shows how generative conversational AI meets a variety of user needs by overcoming the limitations of traditional conversational technologies - for example, by offloading cognitive or creative tasks to the technology. The majority of respondents cited productivity gains as the primary reason for using ChatGPT. The motivation to use ChatGPT to increase productivity in a variety of ways was clear, such as to find information quickly and easily, to generate text or assist with writing, or in software development to generate code or identify problems in code. Although to a lesser extent, ChatGPT is also used for creative work or learning, mainly because of its ability to simplify complex concepts and explain difficult topics in an easy to understand way.

Eldery and robot watching a sunset

Implementing Care Robots in Japan: Unraveling Complexity in Social Settings

27.02.2024

As populations decrease in various countries, such as Europe, China, and Japan, the latter has taken the lead in implementing robots for basic tasks to alleviate their care crisis. Ethnographer James Wright conducted a study called "Are Robots the Solution to Japan's Care Crisis?" based on his book "Robot's Won't Save Japan." In this research, Dr. Wright delves into the emotional and social consequences of introducing robots into a care setting, specifically how it might impact relationships between residents and staff members. He also considers the potential for robots to alter these dynamics.

Low orbit constellation of Starlink satellites

Navigating the New Frontier: The Rise of Satellite Internet and Its Global Impact

19.02.2024

In the old days, satellite internet was slow and used by few people. Through various initiatives, satellite internet, such as Starlink, has made a comeback. It now serves as a crucial link to reach remote corners of the world. This technology is mission-critical for Ukrainian warfare and holds the promise of covering zones currently without internet access. Yet, affordability in remote areas is key to its adoption.

But can satellite internet also be an option to circumvent internet censorship? With only a small mobile dish—or soon, just a smartphone—users anywhere could potentially bypass restrictions. The feasibility of this approach so far depends heavily on private companies like Starlink or OneWeb offering their services in countries with censorship practices. But also China plans to launch a constellation of 12,992 satellites, joining Russia and the EU, with projects like IRIS2, in providing their own satellite internet solutions. But as these plans unfold, space is becoming increasingly crowded. Thousands of satellites are planned for launch, with Starlink alone accounting for approximately 30,000. This rapid expansion raises questions about the sustainability of space as a resource.

So, how is all of this governed? Laura DeNardis has written an insightful report on Interplanetary Internet Governance, suggesting that existing space treaties could play a role in governing the internet beyond Earth. This emerging field of governance will be key to managing the crowded skies and ensuring that satellite internet remains a viable and accessible option for all.

Stairs

Navigating the Exceptions: The Achilles' Heel of Algorithmic Decision-Making

24.01.2024

As society becomes more technologically advanced, algorithms are taking on a greater role in completing tasks. However, with the increased reliance on these programmed protocols, common sense and intuition often take a backseat. These algorithms are designed to handle typical scenarios, but struggle when faced with exceptions. As a result, humans are increasingly out of the loop.

Fiverr AI Letter

The Uncharted Disruption: Generative AI's Impact on Digital Freelancers and the Knowledge Gap

23.11.2023

In the last two decades, outsourcing digital work has become a major industry. Companies began shifting bits and pieces of their operations to cheaper labor markets. This led to the development of platforms like Upwork and Fiverr that offer freelancers from around the world for a small fee. One could argue this is a great way to start working in the digital space and a better alternative than low-paying gig work on ride hailing apps like Gojek (Indonesia) or Little (Kenya). All you need is a laptop and you can be part of the international force trying to make a decent wage. Nonetheless, your efforts will be met with fierce competition as more and more advanced AI technologies are developed making things ever tougher for those who depend on these business models.

Digital Check Canvas German Government

Overview and Critique: Principles for Digital-Ready Legislation

09.11.2023

As you delve deeper into digitalizing government services, two realities become clear: the complex process of transitioning from manual paper-driven processes between multiple government agencies requires a culture of adaptability that administrations often lack. Additionally, the sheer number of government services involved makes it incredibly likely that a backlog of manual tasks will remain for an extended period of time.

Truly green data servers are far from reality

Decoding Green Technology: Navigating the Labyrinth of Eco-Tech Terms and Concepts

27.09.2023

When it comes to the relationship between environment and technology, there are many terms thrown around: Green technology, Climate Tech, Clean Technology, Green IT. They are often used interchangeably, though they mean different things. As I tried to understand it, I pondered the various interpretations of these ideas.

It's easy to recognize how technologies can lower or remove carbon dioxide emissions while also increasing their contribution to worldwide carbon use.

Smart Phone Digital Literacy Plattform

On so many levels: The digital divide is here to stay

07.07.2023

As I reflect on my earliest interactions with the Internet in the 1990s, the screeching sound of a modem dialing up to establish a connection resonates vividly.

Programming is a lot like playing chess

The great myth you need to be good in math to code

22.08.2022

I have probably spent thousands of hours programming, during which I had to listen to this persisting, among others, myth about programming: You need to be good at maths, at applying algebra, etc.

Programming has more to do with chess than maths

Most programming requires simple to complex logical thinking. These are sequences, such as reading the content of a file, checking for certain occurrences and then doing action a or b depending on certain conditions.

It is like playing chess and not working with mathematical formulas. The more you think your moves ahead, the better you can code.

Mainly, web programming hardly involves any maths that you cannot refresh in a short time.

I don't mean to rule maths out of the equation. maths can be pretty helpful when you have to deal with complex programming challenges, i.e. optimising the Google search algorithm, but that is probably not your case.

Let me tell you a secret: While excellent programmers solve a task with a few lines of code that runs in milliseconds, the novice code might take longer and be slower, but it also fits the purpose.

Learn to ride a bicycle is very different than learning from books - personal knowledge management

The 'Management' in Personal Knowledge Management can lead to many false conclusions

19.08.2022

For at least two decades, personal knowledge management (PKM) has been a popular concept to describe how individuals can organize their information more efficiently for more quality output. I have wondered how the term "management" made it into this concept. After some personal learning, I believe the concept is misleading for beginners who want to set up or improve their personal knowledge process.

Example tax form

Dear Government, don't make me think

15.08.2022

Imagine your government is facilitating services, providing them whenever and wherever you need to. For example, sending you a notification when your passport is about to expire, offering you a parking permit when you move to a new neighbourhood, or automatically analysing your tax payments with practical saving recommendations.

But why is this far from happening in most countries?

Elevator

The elevator – a machine we have learnt to trust

14.08.2022

From back in the times when I lived in Egypt, I still remember the lifts operated by elevator operators at government buildings. Liftmen used to ask politely for the desired floor, press the right button, and then sit back on their little chair. Since the 1850s, elevators have transported passengers with the help of such operators. Back then, a person used to take control of a machine to transcend altitude within a few seconds.

Artificial intelligence for good for human rights

12 Inspiring examples of artificial intelligence for good

19.12.2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already embedded in a range of digital services. Voice assistants such as Alexa, car routing or content translation all involve machine learning - the most popular form of artificial intelligence technology. There are many warnings these days about AI, such as the ethics behind these machine driven decision systems or threats of automation and the loss of many jobs.

Very little is reported about how artificial intelligence can improve public services and can have positive social impact. Smart algorithms combined with cloud computing power allow unprecedented forms of data analysis that would take much longer if humans were doing it.

Below I researched a list of inspiring examples of how artificial intelligence is used in public service, education, human rights and health (#aiforgood). The examples prove that AI can have a helpful impact, but as any other technology, does have consequences. The case of depression detection shows the challenges of such approaches. At the end of the day it is still an algorithm that can lead to false predictions. So it is very important to weigh the risks of false decisions in each of these projects.

Artificial intelligence driven personalized learning platform

Private teachers for everyone? Personalized learning through artificial intelligence

12.12.2018

In the science of learning it is long known that every student is required to study differently depending on their experience, skills and knowledge. But most training approaches teach the same way to all students. The student needs to adapt to the course curricula, instead of the curricula adapting to the student needs. Elearning makes little difference here, where each student goes through the same learning material.

How will artificial intelligence change our work?

A work day in 2035 thanks to artificial intelligence

30.11.2018

"Good morning Heinz. No more excuses or I will open the shutters" says Claire, my ongoing follower, my legal stalker and beloved artificial intelligence assistant. The sweet voice is echoing in every corner of the apartment during my morning routine. She follows me through speakers or whispers in my ear. I don't know when I was able to procrastinate last.

Digital peace projects at the Peace Forum in Paris

Peace Forum Paris: The rise of digital conflict and the need for digital peace

22.11.2018

The Internet has become in recent years a major arena of conflict. National and international conflicts are increasingly fought online through cyber propaganda, cyber attacks and even cyberwar. Hence, digital peace is a major topic and involves civil society, international organizations, companies and states.

Digital peace projects at the Peace Forum in Paris

Peace Forum Paris: The rise of digital conflict and the need for digital peace

22.11.2018

The Internet has become in recent years a major arena of conflict. National and international conflicts are increasingly fought online through cyber propaganda, cyber attacks and even cyberwar. Hence, digital peace is a major topic and involves civil society, international organizations, companies and states.

Digital human rights at the United Nations.

Digital social innovations to solve real world problems

15.11.2018

Disruptive digital innovation does not happen where you think it does. The media is full of articles about the digital innovations happening at big Internet companies, and which seem impressive at first sight:

  • Google’s Duplex robot assistant can schedule hairdresser appointments by telephone for you.
  • Netflix has improved, yet again, its movie recommendation algorithm to better entertain you.
  • Amazon has further automated its warehouse to deliver packages a bit faster.
Digital human rights at the United Nations.

Introduction to digital human rights

08.11.2018

Digital rights means different things to different people: From digital rights management to digital human rights. This post shall give you an overview on these different concepts. We will take a look how the focus on digital rights has shifted in the last 20 years and what are the challenges of applying such rights in cyberspace.

Mosquito Smart Needle Project by Sensorica

Sensorica: Self Managed Open Network Innovation

23.06.2017

Back at the Peer Value conference last year I had the chance to hear a presentation by Tiberius Brastaviceanu from Sensorica that was really impressive. Open innovation is my passion and I work with my clients finding great ideas around our platform. I believe open innovation is often seen very limited where company gradually open up for external expertise to innovate. Instead open innovation needs to be practiced in a network, where people collaborate open and effectively. Sensorica represents such a progresssive form of open innovation. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.

Mosquito Smart Needle Project by Sensorica

Sensorica: Self Managed Open Network Innovation

23.06.2017

Back at the Peer Value conference last year I had the chance to hear a presentation by Tiberius Brastaviceanu from Sensorica that was really impressive. Open innovation is my passion and I work with my clients finding great ideas around our platform. I believe open innovation is often seen very limited where company gradually open up for external expertise to innovate. Instead open innovation needs to be practiced in a network, where people collaborate open and effectively. Sensorica represents such a progresssive form of open innovation. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.

Example chat

PostGrowth: Founding an organization remotely via Skype chat

15.11.2016

Christian Kreutz: I'm here at the Peer Value Conference with Donnie Maclurcan? I pronounced it right. That's very nice. I was very intrigued about the work you're saying you're doing. Tell me a bit about what you're doing? Donnie Maclurcan: Six years ago, with 10 individuals, we co-founded a global economics institute called the Post Growth Institute. We look at what comes after capitalism. What was fascinating to me -- and relates a lot to the processes that we've engaged with since then -- is some of the lessons we learned about starting our organization, and what really motivates people to continue being part of the organization, and builds trust within our group.

Crowdfunding innovation

Crowdfunding innovation in international cooperation

28.09.2016

Download ebook

For the launch of the ebook "10 trends in open innovation", I was interviewed by Wolfgang Gumpelmaier-Mach, from the Crowdfunding Service Magazin. Wolfgang and his colleagues have contributed an exciting chapter to the publication, which of course has to do with crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding innovation

Open innovation in international cooperation

22.09.2016

Download ebook

It is great to see that our publication "10 trends in open innovation" is now available as an eBook. For this project, I worked together with the GIZ, namely Jan Schwaab, Balthas Seibold and Christian Gmelin, to create 10 exciting chapters, which enlighten the abstract concept of innovation. The various chapters provide an overview and practical advice on how to pursue an open innovation approach. Thanks to all the authors. Following are some introductions to the chapters.

Social Innovation Lab at PopTech @ Flickr

20+ inspiring social innovation lab examples worldwide

30.03.2016

Social innovation labs are increasingly popping up and evolving all over the world. They mostly focus on startups and business development around topics such as energy, environment, civic participation or the cities as a laboratories. For an introduction to social innovation read my blog post.

Blue ocean photo by Marfis @ Flickr

Ocean pollution: Crowdsourcing data for advocacy

03.03.2016

At the border session festival I had the pleasure to attend a fascinating presentation by Jeroen Dagevos from the Plastic Soup Foundation. He highlighted the extent of ocean pollution by plastic and trash and how his organization uses crowdsourcing data to campaign against it.

Smart city innovation is much needed in all cities.

Smart city innovation is not happening without citizens

23.02.2016

With the rise of big data and affordable sensor technology, smart city innovation can transform cities into a better place, but only if the right data is available. This seems to be a 'solutionism' belief. Almost like the equation: the better the data, the better the decision, neglecting the underlining complexity of decision-making processes and that cities involve multiple interests that need to be carefully weigh out.

Moving towards open source innovation

24.07.2015

After months of work our software code is finally released to the public for free. Every line of code and all thoughts behind it. Good ideas and probably also so not so good ones. The philosophy behind it all is simple: An idea needs to prove itself and can only be improved if its "recipe" is as transparent as possible. For us at Crisscrossed (www.crisscrossed.de), it was our first open source software project  and as an outcome there was the realization that open source innovation is essential for how we collaborate on ideas to make them become reality in a complex world.

20 inspiring open source innovation communities and tools from around the world

20.07.2015

Last updated: 04.09.15

Open source software has become a strong movement and as it gains popularity it leads most software companies to engage with the expanding open source community. All things digital, being it music, photos, etc., have in one way or another become free thanks to some clever licenses. What is not so often noticed is how the vision of open source spreads to other sectors and leads to a fascinating array of tools, thanks for example to 3D printing, and communities, which form a new way of open collaboration. I made a small exploration to search for great projects.

How open government can turn evil thanks to big data and machine learning

04.02.2015

The New Yorker recently published an insightful article called „We Know How You Feel - Computers are learning to read emotion, and the business world can’t wait.“, which discusses the potential of machine learning and big data. The author tells the story of how advanced facial recognition has developed. It is now possible to analyze single facial expressions and emotions we are not even aware of ourselves. That has triggered a lot of interest by advertisement companies. The goal is to increase the attention advertisements receive. One such company developing such software is Affectiva and it seems to be doing well.

The role of data in social innovation

27.01.2015

To get from A to B in a city the choices are stark: Public transport, taxi, your own car or bike. If you think that is a lot then skip till the end of this post. But if you are like me, always trying to find the best way to get to places and normally none of the options above satisfy you, then continue reading.

Introduction to Open and social Innovation and how to get started

18.12.2014

This article was originally published in the GIZ publication "10 trends in open innovation - How to leverage social media for new forms of cooperation".

Taking Down Barriers To Social Innovation

How To Tackle Challenges Through Mass Collaboration

Tumble dryers are part of many households – a modern convenience but also an appliance that has one of the highest energy consumption rates. Is there a way to reduce energy consumption associated with this device? At the Dynamic Demand Challenge, an open innovation contest organized by the UK innovation agency Nesta, a noteworthy proposal to solve energy consumption issues tackled this. Participants presented a small laundry app that presents you with the best options for when and how to do your laundry – both washing and drying. The app always prefers line drying outdoors over tumble drying. Based on weather report information the app lets you know whether, for example, there is a chance of rain in the hours ahead or whether it is worth waiting for some sunshine hours expected for later in the day. At the same time, it monitors energy consumption patterns and provides information on highs and lows of energy demand. In the future, the app could become a feature not only of most washing machines and tumble dryers, but also of many other appliances with high energy consumption rates. It is a small step to start with but it has great potential to tackle the issue of energy saving.

7 lessons learnt in five years of citizen participation & civic innovation

09.12.2014

For the past 5 years I have been involved in a number of web civic engagement projects. I have seen as many successes as failures, which in one way or another have always been a lesson. Certainly, so much learning has taken me to conceive one of my own projects, for example Creating Frankfurt - a citizen participation project, which I developed four years ago in Germany. This project, as in the practice, has taught me what works and what doesn't. Because of that, I can attest that there is very little information out there on evidences and references when it comes to civic innovation. A lot is just a trend or hype and few are on the quest for a sustainable and demanded citizen participation service, which is very tricky to achieve. (Hint: It is much less about technology than most believe it is).

Holacracy – empowering people, driving creativity and gaining productivity

12.08.2014

From my experience gained throughout my career, I have stumbled over and over again with organizational problems. Companies and organizations, from whatever field, are simply inefficiently structured. More or less the classical top-down approach tends to persist, completely contradicting a more efficient approach to empower people. Ofttimes, the talents and the potential of employees are restrained by organizational hierarchies, which at the end of the day is counterproductive for most organizations.

5 crowdsourcing examples on how the United Nations open up

02.06.2014

There is no doubt that crowdsourcing has great potential; particularly in the case of the United Nations. One clear advantage of open innovation for the UN is that it allows it to test its performance and engage with each target group to learn what it is actually needed and achieved. The UN has an unlimited audience and deals with immense challenges, which require creative, collective solutions. Using the Internet to gather ideas, discuss and collaborate on finding solutions should be the daily norm; and that is why at least some UN organizations have already started experimenting. Here is a list of interesting crowdsourcing examples.

The downfall of PDFs and what it says about Knowledge Management

23.05.2014

A great article from the Washington post, shared by Martina Hetzel via the KM4DEV mailing list, has caught my attention. The article, titled "The solutions to all our problems may be buried in PDFs that nobody reads", cites a World Bank report and emphasizes on its knowledge management issues.

"About 13 percent of policy reports were downloaded at least 250 times while more than 31 percent of policy reports are never downloaded. Almost 87 percent of policy reports were never cited. "

Launch Openaiddata.org: 3 million foreign aid activities at your fingertip

24.04.2014

Open data is a great chance to make development aid not only more transparent, but also more efficient. Having been an aid worker for a while in Egypt and Germany myself, I could see how much information is needed. It is often very difficult to get even an overview of who is doing what. Now having the opportunity to look into various development organizations as a consultant I have seen many bottlenecks and the potential open data has to make development organizations more efficient. Open data will allow organizations to get involved and collaborate in new ways.

Innovation hubs - how the Internet is setting the path for innovation

19.03.2014

Only a few years ago 'unconferences' where a new and different type of event, where people organized themselves online to meet somewhere to listen and exchange about crazy ideas. The web-based model of open innovation developed into face-to-face events. Years later, we are now witnessing how innovation hubs are popping up across the world. Spaces are being opened for anyone to exchange ideas and find help and solutions to seriously implement these. The Internet, as platform for open innovation, has been transforming the way we collaborate, which makes companies, for instance, experiment with incubators, accelerators.

Innovation hubs - how the Internet is setting the path for innovation

19.03.2014

Only a few years ago 'unconferences' where a new and different type of event, where people organized themselves online to meet somewhere to listen and exchange about crazy ideas. The web-based model of open innovation developed into face-to-face events. Years later, we are now witnessing how innovation hubs are popping up across the world. Spaces are being opened for anyone to exchange ideas and find help and solutions to seriously implement these. The Internet, as platform for open innovation, has been transforming the way we collaborate, which makes companies, for instance, experiment with incubators, accelerators.