With the current reading I have been doing, and through discussion with my supervisor, I am refining my possible direction/research question.
I’m suffering a little bit from typical first year PhD student syndrome: everything is interesting and I can’t decide. But so far, from a quite vague statement about Innovation in Extreme Scenarios I have now narrowed things down a bit further, and my updated short abstract is below.
Here is an abstract of my current proposal.
Abstract: Social Innovation in Extreme Scenarios: Non-Expert Experts Remaking Tools Into Something Usable
My research will investigate the reinvention and repurposing of tools by communities of “non-expert experts”: in other words, highly creative and high-functioning amateurs. Social innovation is often seen as a top-down developed world export in the form of charity apps, microloan services, and projects such as One Laptop Per Child. What happens when groups of high-functioning amateurs hack corrupted, purposefully-broken systems to meet their needs (a current example is Angolan hackers using Portuguese Wikipedia to embed large downloads of pirated material)? What can we learn from their ingenious methods, borne of urgency? How can we overcome the barriers that cause Silicon Valley to ship broken products (if they ship anything at all) to communities that are not wealthy, white, and male?