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/// INNOVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY


From a long-term perspective, like the one of the archaeologist, we can compare the ups and downs of many civilizations and societies at different timescales, in different natural environments, both in the present and the past. Whether one looks at the Roman, Sassanian, Spanish, British, or American Empires, or at small-scale societies in Africa or Papua New Guinea such as the Huli Continue reading »

/// DYNAMIC EVALUATION


Both in INSITE and MD (EU sponsored research project close to INSITE) we are developing a new method of evaluating innovation projects, especially social innovation projects, called Dynamic Evaluation. The key idea behind this method is that standard evaluation, based on a set of pre- defined outcome variables to be checked at the project’s conclusion, does not provide a valid measure of the real value of a social innovation project Continue reading »



/// Rethinking ICT


In order to understand how and why modern ICT emerged, why it has had such a tremendous and rapid impact, and what shapes it may take in the future, we think it is desirable to broaden the conception of ICT. Our most important move will be to change the locus of ICT from “artifact space” to “agent-artifact space”. To do this, we started from ICT’s primary functional roles – the storage, communication and processing of information and the facilitation of its interpretation – and asked which artifacts and organizations support these roles, Continue reading »

/// ICT TOols


Increasingly, organizations with an interest in facilitating social change have turned to the Internet to recruit and mobilize supporters, to publish their ideas in the hope of Continue reading »


/// MODELING


Modeling the dynamics of innovation cascades introduces some fundamental and important questions, which have so far been largely glossed over in the social scientific literature. Agents in these cascades act intentionally, and as the case studies will certainly make clear, this intentionality assumes a fundamental role in how innovation dynamics play out. Yet what happens never simply follows particular agents’ intentions, in part because of ontological uncertainty. How can agent intentionality in the face of ontological uncertainty be represented in models, so that its effects can be assessed? Answering this question has many implications beyond the context of innovation and sustainability studies (not least in ICT intended to assist agent “decision-making”, which tends to start with situations structured precisely to rule out ontological uncertainty and the cognitive constraints it imposes!), but it is impossible to ignore in this context. Continue reading »


/// CASE STUDIES


These studies aspire to illustrate the qualitative dynamics of innovation cascades, emphasizing their potential for disorganizing environment and socioeconomic and cultural structures, Continue reading »

/// NARRATIVE


Another aspect of INSITE research, which is central to INSITE’S vision, concerns the role of narrative in general human acting, particularly in policy-making and in innovation policy organizations. As we already noted more than once, innovation processes generate inherently unpredictable novelty, especially with respect to the social and environmental consequences of innovation cascades. Yet systemic innovation policy requires taking action now, on the basis of sometimes very weak signals that something important may happen later. Continue reading »


/// ON LINE LABORATORY


Experiments in innovation and sustainability studies may seem difficult to realize. The usual set-ups of small scale, rigidly controlled experiments that have been successfully employed in behavioral economics, for example, don’t provide sufficient scope for interesting innovation cascades. Agent-based models do not seem at the present to offer an alternative, at least if the constraints imposed by the intentionality issue really matter. But there is an alternative that we decide to explore in INSITE: might we exploit massive multiuser online games (MMOG), in which real human beings, within the constraints imposed by the “physical laws” and interactional rules provided by the game programs, communicate with each other, act and interact – and occasionally generate emergent features that may count as innovations? Continue reading »