Stimulating Regional Social and Technological InnovationAndrzej P. Wierzbicki*,***JAIST, 21st Century COE Technology Creation Based on Knowledge Science, and ** National Institute of Telecommunications, Warsaw, Poland • One of great challenges facing humanity is the use of information technology for stimulating regional innovation. This applies both to highly developed, rich countries such as United States and Japan, where many regions lose competitive advantage and young population, because life in other regions seems more exciting, and to middle developed countries, such as Poland and other countries in Central Europe, and also especially to developing, poor countries. • It seems that Internet connectivity can make these remote or poor regions more attractive, but the issue is also related to stimulating regional economic growth. • If these regions are not especially attractive for market investments, the only solution is stimulating regional innovation: developing special Internet services, creative environments that would help local small companies, local industry and crafts in creativity and innovativeness.
Stimulating Regional Social and Technological Innovation, 2 • The necessary condition is improved Internet connectivity; but it is not sufficient in itself. What type of new, special Internet services can be developed to help in regional innovation? • Can the micro-theories of knowledge creation and epistemic principles developed in the 21st Century COE Technology Creation Based on Knowledge Science help in the development of such special services? • We are convinced that they can, that they provide a theoretical framework and a perspective that can be fruitful in constructing new types of services. • To specify such new services, we must start with the question: what type of Internet services – beside already traditional, such as email, web search engines, etc. – are or will be most useful for stimulating innovativeness in local small companies, local industry and crafts? • This is a difficult question and a special study, starting with a questionnaire survey of opinions in several target communities, should be performed in order to answer it. However, we might start with an outline of answers – which might help, at least, in constructing the questionnaire.
Stimulating Regional Social and Technological Innovation, 3 • There is no doubt that the local user of Internet is not necessarily well trained even in traditional computer network services. • Thus, first service might be to organize – e.g., by a university located in the region – an e-learning course on existing web services(possibly even including interactive sessions with university professors, using e.g. new visual network connectivity such as Skype). • It should be a service provided inexpensively, even possibly free of charge, by the university. • This service must be localized, that is, using examples and language typical for local customs and contexts; and software variants typically used in local community. • But this service should also take into account global accessibility, that is, not only be accessible from the global network, but also suggest such globally accessible services that are judged to be most useful for the local needs. • Thus, for example in Japan, it should consciously be bi-lingual; using both Japanese and English texts. • Moreover, such service should try to establish a global network of local service providers, that is, start cooperation with other universities or research institutions in the world that try to provide new local network services.
Stimulating Regional Social and Technological Innovation, 4 • Examples of other possible services might include several ideas resulting from the work of 21st Century COE Technology Creation Based on Knowledge Science. To these belong: • Constructing ontologies for local scientific or business communities (see Tian et al. 2007); • Developing an adaptive hermeneutic agent (AHA), based on local and personalized ontology and helping in creative web searches using basic search engines (see Wierzbicki and Ren 2007); • Using the Pentagram System and Triple Helix methodology for supporting creativity, e.g. in in local artistic crafts (see Kikuchi et al. 2007), (Nakamori and Wierzbicki 2007). • Not only the hermeneutic spiral of reading and interpreting written texts, but also other results: • creative spirals involving knowledge creation in organizations (SECI), • brainstorming (DCCV), • debate, experimenting, involving both the multimedia principle and emergence principle, • can be used as an intellectual blueprint for developing such tools.
Stimulating Regional Social and Technological Innovation, 5 • The first step in developing new local Internet services might be a special local foresight exercise: a series of meetings with small companies, local industry and crafts local administration. • A survey of demand should be made, but as a middle part of such foresight exercise; demand for such services, if exists, is tacit and hidden, an explicit demand must be created by promoting, e.g., the results 21st Century COE Technology Creation Based on Knowledge Science. • Generally, such a foresight exercise should aim not just at forecasting future regional development, but much rather at creating a vision of future local development and mobilizing local public opinion for supporting the realisation of such a vision. • However, a conclusion derived from experiences is that between a vision, even supported by an intellectual blueprint, and computer implementation of specific creative environments there is a gap that must be filled in by a careful specification of user requirements, definition what functions are most important for a specific, local community of users. • Thus, even if there are important universal aspects of such environments (e.g., the importance of visualisation, consistent with the multimedia principle), the local or multi-versal aspects of them are also important and should be carefully studied.
Stimulating Regional Social and Technological Innovation, 6 • There is no better way to study the local aspects than to make an alliance with prospective users – one or several local companies, local industries, local administration offices, etc. – to spend time on specification of the functionality of future specialized services. • These services should not necessarily be new basic Internet services, such as search engines; they should rather be overlays on these basic services, adapting these basic services to local and specific needs. • After a careful specification of functionality, the actual implementation should produce software tools for basic units of such services. • These tools must be thoroughly tested; the prospective users that take part in the specification of functionality should have the duty and privilege to test these tools (and have certain privileges in using them in future). • Actual services might be organized in diverse ways: part might be run by the university (for example, the university might add another e-learning course on methods of stimulation of creativity and innovation), part by special network services companies, especially recruited or even created for this purpose.
Stimulating Regional Social and Technological Innovation, 7 • Conclusions: • The results of the 21st Century COE Technology Creation Based on Knowledge Science are rich and diverse enough to serve as a basis for the creation of new Internet services aimed at stimulating local and regional, social and technological innovation. I have mentioned several activities and examples related to such services: • An e-learning course on existing web services; • An e-learning course on new web services and ways of stimulating creativity and innovativeness; • A local or regional foresight exercise concentrated on using Internet for stimulating local social and technological innovation; • A survey of existing and future demand for specialized Internet services; • Forming a global network of localized service providers, to learn from other examples
Stimulating Regional Social and Technological Innovation, 8 • An interactive specification of future user requirements of functionality of possible new services, including: • Constructing ontologies for local scientific or business communities; • Developing an adaptive hermeneutic agent (AHA), based on local and personalized ontology and helping in creative web searches; • Using the Pentagram System and triple Helix methodology for supporting creativity, e.g. in local artistic crafts; • Using road-mapping especially designed as a support for small local business planning; • Using SECI Spiral designed especially for local business needs; • Using brainstorming support especially designed for local business needs; • Special variants of groupware supporting interactive debate, experimenting, etc. • Development and testing of software tools for new Internet services; • Organization of actual new services. • This rich menu of possibilities promises diverse chances in supporting local innovativeness.