Collaboration for change: Reflections on the Social Innovation Camp

16.04.2008| Christian Kreutz

2395794648_745d13bd19.webpA bit late I write my feedback from the Social Innovation Camp (sicamp08), which luckily had the chance to join. I first heard about it from Dan McQuillan, who is one of the initiators and also has a great blog. It was a fascinating weekend with a real kind of Barcamp atmosphere, or as David Wilcox says, the sicamp08 "will make a big difference in the way we think about doing good stuff with new stuff."


On Friday we went to a get-together and later to a pub. During this few hours, I got to know somebody from the open source movement in Brazil, a PHD student about social media, some great folks who try to change the British local government from inside out, and a lot of people with great ideas - many more than the six chosen for the Social Innovation Camp. But also, the Young foundation premises were a great location and the organization was excellent. Before I tell more about the different projects and the weekend, I would like to wrap up the highlights:

  • It wor**ks!** The concept of bringing people together to collaborate for social innovation through the web worked excellent. Almost a hundred people showed up, who were all eager to collaborate and offered their expertise.
  • Inside out. It is amazing to see the spirit of the participative alive and be able to meet all these open people. In contrast to Barcamps, it goes a step further and people work on a project and by that, you share experiences and learn from each other. Both represent a great passion for exchange and a desire for creativity.
  • Scale it up! I can so imagine how this approach could be scaled up. Bringing people with ideas together an d forming something together exhilarating and contagious. The web has become a playground to rethink or we-think (Charles Leadbeater) the potential of social change and overcome traditional barriers. Therefore I am eager to participate at the Social Camp in Berlin next June.
  • **Unlimited ideas. **It was really amazing, in brainstorm sessions, to listen and discuss so many ideas that the attendees have. There are many impressive ways to empower citizens, to engage in social or injustice or help to change a community. To me, it is clear that we are just at the start of this development. Business start-ups were the beginning and social innovation start-ups are the future.
  • Richness of data. During the last year, I was often overwhelmed, suspicious or frustrated about all this available information and data in the net. But now, there is a great potential to get much more out of all these data. Make it relevant, use it for transparency or advocacy. This kind of information power will change a lot: Being it "rate my prison" or the potential of aggregation.
  • **It is the mobile phone. **Once again the mobile will make a big difference because of one simple reason. Whereas in the past I went to the computer to do something with the web, in the future my life and the web are closely connected. I can engage when I want or consult a friend or contribute to the wiki bar-code or I switch off.

There is a backnetwork page to see all people involved and all six chosen projects are described at the Social Innovation Camp website:

  • Wibi.it_ Formerly bar-code Wikipedia. A site for storing user-generated information – such as carbon footprint, manufacturing conditions and reviews - against a product, identified by its barcode number. _It enables buyers to check product information through their mobile phone right in the supermarket, for example, whether it really is fair trade.
  • Enabled by Design_ A resource for anyone looking to make adjustments to their lives, be it as a result of disability, injury or impairment. Enabled by Design won £2,000 as our judges’ favourite idea at Show and Tell. _
  • On The Up_ Formerly Personal Development Reports. An online system that supports young people to identify their personal skills and qualities. _That is the project I worked with. It is about personal development to help young people get a perspective, become peer learners and fulfil their dreams. In the first hour, I did not know whether it would work but suddenly a great visionary idea came together. I am curious to see how it will go on.
  • Rate Your Prison_ Formerly Prison Visits. A tool to support the families of prisoners coping with the experience of being apart from a loved one. Rate Your Prison won £1,000 as the runner-up project at Show and Tell._ There is little information about how prisoners feel in prison. A voice for the voiceless
  • CVLifeLine_ Formerly Rate my CV. A site for helping jobseekers using Web 2.0 tools._ Young people can help each other to improve their CVs.


Most projects even had prototype websites finished in those two days, which it was amazing to see they were done with the help of coders and designers. And the winners were "enabled by design" and "rate my prison!" For more information and all other blog posts check the list by Aleksi Aaltonen.