Innovative Role of Users Within Digital Economy: The Case of Information/Knowledge Flows at Social and Semantic Networks (Web 2.0/3.0)

Innovative Role of Users Within Digital Economy: The Case of Information/Knowledge Flows at Social and Semantic Networks (Web 2.0/3.0)

Pedro Andrade (University of Minho, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6307-5.ch012
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Contemporary economic and financial crisis is closely associated with social innovation. This process profoundly influences cyberspace's phenomena within our globalized communications paradigm. The correspondent debate on the articulation of crisis and innovation was reconceptualized by Marx, Nietzsche, Sombart, Schumpeter, David Harvey, etc. However, Manuel Castells elaborated an economic but also communicational explanation, which seems to us closer to the current crisis. Castells uses the notion of “space of flows” created and shared by globalized capitalism, across information and communication networks at cyberspace. The aim of this chapter is to reflect on “information and knowledge flows” in the present crisis conjuncture. For example, within Facebook content privacy is being debated and even engenders reluctance on user fidelity. In fact, social networks shouldn't deliver just information flows but also knowledge flows, which may become central means of production/consumption.
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A Background: Creative Destruction And Innovation

The present economic/financial global crisis is deeply articulated with social innovation.

One mode of addressing this problematics is to deconstruct and reconstruct this concept ‘social innovation’. First of all, it should be differentiated from the insufficient notion ‘innovation’, even if this last term already means an application of creativity to society. However, ‘social innovation’ is a richer term, as it allows: (a) to precise the multiple instances of newness within civil society, and even within the State; (b) to distinguish between: on one hand, innovation social means (i.e. ways of doing original and useful things) such as cultural creativity and open source methods; and, on the other hand, innovation social aims, as the enhancement of citizenship and cultural literacy.

Various connotations or pioneer ideas around the connection between economic crises and social innovation can be found in authors as the following ones: Benjamin Franklin on changes in communities (1996); Robert Owen (1995) and utopian socialism; Karl Marx (1988) about economic crises and socio-political transformations; Joseph Schumpeter (2009) reflecting on creative destruction, a concept derived from Marx and Sombart contributions); and, more recently, in Akhter Khan (2005) referring bottom up community development), Muhamad Yunus (suggesting microcredit for innovators). Other important research on social innovation was developed within the fields of territorial/regional development (Frank Moulaert, 2010), solidarity and social economy (Jean-Louis Laville, 2010), and some other essays about governance relations, cooperation, and cultural difference. The idea of creative destruction was recently applied as well to the restructuring of the city (Page, 2001), globalized culture (Cowen, 2004), modernist theatre (Ackerman, 2007), American literature (Fisher, 2000), and music industry (Dodge, 2006).

However, Manuel Castells elaborated an explanation that seems closer to the actual crisis, which is economic but also communicative. Castells (2009) introduces the notion of a ‘network society’, founded on a ‘space of flows’ created by globalised capitalism across information and communication networks at cyberspace, namely at webs where corporations, universities and other institutions/organizations implement: production, marketing and consumer driven strategies that need a constant innovation, and the respective communication and diffusion. Other studies reflect on the contemporary mass media communication paradigm and cyberspace processes (Katz, 2002).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Web 2.0: The so-called second age of the internet, that had a notable development after 2001, and where users became apparently more active than in the precedent decade. That is, besides reading information, they write content (e.g., posts and comments in blogs or messages to other users in social networks [Facebook, etc.]). That’s why Web 2.0 is also named “reading/writing internet.”

Lay Researcher: The common citizen is becoming a legitimated common storyteller, writer, and researcher. For example, by means of “lay ontologies” (i.e., sets of concepts forged by ordinary people in Wikipedia) and other hybrid procedures invested in social networks.

Creative Destruction of Information: This signifies that information flows associated with digital social networks and the correspondent consumption of information are being dialectically annihilated in part, and often transformed into knowledge flows.

Web 3.0: This network mode is censed to foster a new style of reception and production of information, knowledge and meaning. It is often nominated Semantic Web because its main aim is to construct social semantic sites and networks where their own underlying model of meaning and knowledge is manifest and described.

Innovative Sociology of Innovation: This is a creative style of making sociology about innovative social processes, that is emerging itself as a promising innovation instrument and a stimulant open research attitude. An example is semantic-logical sociology, a posture that reflects on the social and semantic processes subjacent to Web 3.0 networks.

Counter-Hegemonic Flows: Citizens and internet users develop strategies in what concerns the production and consumption of information and knowledge, sometimes defying the hegemonic ways and methods of coping and controlling data and knowledge.

Research Society: A societal paradigm where ordinary citizens can turn into non-specialist journalists and researchers. In fact, common people may create testimonies, comments, and critiques using portable computers and mobile devices, sometimes anticipating the news coverage undertaken by media professionals, or the publication of scientific research results developed within the university.

Geo Stories: These are fictions inherent to the retelling of our everyday stories at or about specific locations, related to the friction mobilized by the public opinion of ordinary people, regarding such narratives.

Hybrimedia: This concept means an original (new) fusion of media whose nature is different from the originary (native) media that formed it.

Social Innovation: In contemporary society, this process occurs within global communicative networks, and involves not just informational flows, but more and more knowledge flows, in order to transform a given aspect of social reality.

Open Research: This is a genre of research that profoundly uses open access to open data and open knowledge.

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