Social innovation and the challenge of democracy in Europe

David Lane and Filippo Addarii in Open Democracy: “…The political challenge of our time—the challenge of democracy in Europe—is how to channel people’s passion, expertise and resources into complex and long-term projects that improve collective life.
This challenge has motivated a group of researchers, policy-makers and practitioners to join together in a project called INSITE (“Innovation, Sustainability and ICT).” INSITE is exploring the cascading dynamics of social innovation processes, and investigating how people can regain control over their results by freeing themselves from dependence on political intermediaries and experts. …
Today, anybody in the world can build a Geiger counter, measure radiation and share the results with others across the world. The technology is free and easy to build at home. It’s based on an open source micro-processor called “Arduino,” and all the instructions required to build the machine are available online. There’s also an online platform to share data and get support in any phase of the process called “Safecast.”
Fast forward to the 86th Academy Awards in Los Angeles in 2014, when Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty” won the Oscar for best Foreign Language Film. Many Italians were unhappy with the film’s portrayal of a society wrapped in a beautiful cover made of Italian heritage and landscapes. So a young film producer called Lorenzo Gangarossa had the idea of asking ordinary citizens to contribute to presenting a different image of their country.
The result was “Italy in a Day,” one of the first crowd-sourced films to be released. 44,000 videos were filmed by Italians on the same day, edited together by Gabriele Salvatores, and produced into a film by Ridley Scott. When thousands of Italians were given the chance to co-create a composite image of their country, the resulting picture was the opposite of the one that had been celebrated by film critics and the media.
Based on the same principles of large-scale participation, the INSITE group has developed a robust methodology designed to engage people in assessing the collective impact of social innovation itself. “Emergence by Design” has developed a new set of tools that allow all the participants in a project to monitor and assess questions of impact and effectiveness. It’s called “dynamic evaluation.” … (More).