The Second Life of Innova8ion: Learning and Innovation Outside the Firm
More precisely, the toolkits for user innovation and design allows us to investigate the processes by which innovators outside the firm obtain innovation-related resources and assistance. Innovation-related information and the inventions themselves are the vehicle to observe the ways in which the virtual world operator invites and supports its customers to on the one hand, create in-world content, and on the other hand, to further develop the product. The role of support is the firm’s core activity to interact and acquire new insights into their own product rendering opportunities for learning through close contact with users. The development process of the synthetic world implicitly structures users’ practices even when they have become the primary content providers, as well as the way software designers themselves are situated in these social processes, and the interactions that characterize the consistent relationship between user communication and product. Synthetic worlds as such provide a representational instance of both individual and collective practices that function as online learning communities where community participants share their knowledge and hope to learn from the knowledge they receive from others. Accounts of how users interact with their material and social contexts across and within developer communities (across firm boundaries) provide an understanding of learning as advancement along ‘trajectories of participation’ and commercialization within a given community of practice. Here, using a mixture of qualitative and quantitative research methods, the combined approach of user-driven innovations and communities of practice perspective advocates a view of learning as a social process that is inextricably bound up with the conditions within which is learned. Within a commercial setting of Linden Lab’s Second Life toolkits for user innovation and co-design users become the drivers of the firm’s dynamic knowledge base and the firm's ability to innovate.
Keywords: Communities of Practice, User-Driven Innovation, Knowledge, Toolkits for User Innovation and Co-Design
Shenja van der Graaf
PhD Researcher, Media & Communications, London School of Economics