Ramon Sangüesa

From artificial intelligence to design for social (digital) innovation

I started in the area of Artificial Intelligence. There, the work of Herbert Simon, made me shift my focus slowly from technology to organization and design. I explored the agent paradigm, and specifically I used agent-based social simulation to study the interplay between collaboration, innovation, networks and emergence. This opened up a whole world of interdisciplinary work. I have interacted with scholars and practitioners from very different disciplines, such as Economy, Sociology, Organizational Behaviour and Design. My present interests are mainly in the creation and study of innovation dynamics, collaboration, and the emergence of collaborative design networks. I am focusing my research on how groups can design together new interaction systems for spawning new design processes, what some call research in metadesign.

The practice of social (digital) innovation: from centers to platforms and situations

I am one of the three founders of Citilab, a community innovation center in Barcelona, Spain, that connects citizens with research, innovation, and communication. It tries to turn them into active players in each of these areas. It is supported by the Spanish Ministry of Industry. It has been awarded several important international prizes, the last one the Urban Land Institute (ULI) award.

Citilab’s goal was to explore new organizational designs and new processes to generate social innovation from, with and for citizens. It used the design practices of the digital culture as its general framework since technological culture is a design culture. At Citilab I coordinated all the innovation activities … including the design of new methods of innovation.

My experience at Citilab reinforced my belief that new, innovative, citizen-centric organizations can explore new formats to engage people in cocreation. People really need, want and enjoy building together from their own needs and expertise. I have started to test new formats and interactions based on the concept of platform and public space. That is, to use current embrionic forms of collective organization already present on the net and to oportunistically take advantage of existing spaces (university campuses, museums, art galleries, technology centers, squares, and other public gathering points). Their function was to concentrate and spawn innovative activities of interest by citizens and for citizens. With the help of Irene Lapuente and the support of several institutions such as the Center for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona, the CoCreating Cultures platform was started very recenty. It explores the processes of collaborative design in science, technology, art and culture. My research is now focused on the “situation for innovation” concept which is tightly connected to technological collaborative design practices, digital innovation ecosystems and network creation. It is, in my view, a basic component of metadesign.

About my background: Ph.D. in Computer Science (Artificial Intelligence) Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (1997). Postgraduate in Science Communication (Universitat Pompeu Fabra. also in 1997). Professor of Languages and Systems, Barcelona School of Informatics, of which I was Vicedean of innovation for six years. Affiliate researcher at the Center on Organizational Innovation at Columbia University (New York) and Senior Fellow at the Strategic Innovation Lab, Ontario College of Art and Design (Toronto, Canada).

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