#FAIL: What we learn from failed tech projects <br />Alison Powell, London School of Economics<br />a.powell@lse.ac.uk<br ...
<ul><li>'Failure' and 'Success' in citizen technology projects
Defining Failure
Systemic vs Partial Failure
Transparent vs Opaque Failure
Stated vs Unstated Goals
Policy contributions of 'failed' networks
New taxonomy?</li></li></ul><li>The Vision of the Open Internet<br />“Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giant...
The Reality of the Black Box<br />
Community Wireless Networks (2000-2008)<br />
Great Expectations:<br />Some Frameworks for citizen technology projects<br />Citizen Engagement<br />Empowerment<br />Par...
Policy Challenge/Governance
Enterprise and business</li></li></ul><li>Types of Failure<br />Systemic vs Partial Failure (Heeks, 2005)<br /><ul><li>Eas...
Partial failure requires recognition of subjectivityTransparent Failure (Kuhn, 1963)
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#FAIL: Black boxes, open-source, and the collaborative futures of the internet

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Alison Powell's talk at ISDT11.

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#FAIL: Black boxes, open-source, and the collaborative futures of the internet

  1. 1. #FAIL: What we learn from failed tech projects <br />Alison Powell, London School of Economics<br />a.powell@lse.ac.uk<br />Twitter: @postdocal<br />http://www.alisonpowell.ca<br />
  2. 2.
  3. 3. <ul><li>'Failure' and 'Success' in citizen technology projects
  4. 4. Defining Failure
  5. 5. Systemic vs Partial Failure
  6. 6. Transparent vs Opaque Failure
  7. 7. Stated vs Unstated Goals
  8. 8. Policy contributions of 'failed' networks
  9. 9. New taxonomy?</li></li></ul><li>The Vision of the Open Internet<br />“Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.” <br />Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace, John Perry Barlow<br />
  10. 10. The Reality of the Black Box<br />
  11. 11. Community Wireless Networks (2000-2008)<br />
  12. 12. Great Expectations:<br />Some Frameworks for citizen technology projects<br />Citizen Engagement<br />Empowerment<br />Participation<br /><ul><li>Alternative Technology
  13. 13. Policy Challenge/Governance
  14. 14. Enterprise and business</li></li></ul><li>Types of Failure<br />Systemic vs Partial Failure (Heeks, 2005)<br /><ul><li>Easier to understand systemic failure
  15. 15. Partial failure requires recognition of subjectivityTransparent Failure (Kuhn, 1963)
  16. 16. Contributes to future learning or progress
  17. 17. Includes planned obsolescence
  18. 18. Generative vs disruptiveOpaque Failure
  19. 19. Unclear what has failed or how
  20. 20. Perhaps the result of undeclared goals at odds with policy/legal frames</li></li></ul><li>CWN Policy Expectations<br />Innovation Policy<br /><ul><li>CWNs can model demand for broadband
  21. 21. CWNs can create new organizational formsSocial Policy
  22. 22. CWNs can bridge the digital divideCommunication Policy
  23. 23. CWNs can create P2P alternatives (mesh networks)</li></li></ul><li>Community Typology of Network Types<br />commerce net: develops new services or business models <br />culture net:showcases art, culture and community or is viewed as an artistic project<br />demo net: demonstrates proof of concept of a technology or mode of organization <br />equiNet: promotes community wireless as a means of addressing the digital divide <br />political-Net: draws attention to political issues and the politics of access to communications<br />picnic net: brings together a social group<br />
  24. 24. Some notable failures<br />Political Nets (Berlin and Portland, OR)<br /><ul><li>CWN in Berlin built mesh network to highlight redlining of East Berlin. Network functions poorly
  25. 25. In Portland, CWN replaced by corporate network. Community monitored commercial network's performanceEqui-Nets (France, various)
  26. 26. Replaced by commercial networks
  27. 27. Drove campaign for public access to spectrumPicnic-Nets (Serbia and Athens)
  28. 28. Significant innovation – often illegal
  29. 29. Social relations more important than technical innovation</li></li></ul><li>Today's project: a new taxonomy of failures<br />
  30. 30.
  31. 31. Redefining Failure<br />Policy (and law) posit transparent relations between goals and outcomes<br />Yet legally marginal actions have outcomes of public benefit<br />So too do 'failed' projects<br />Is it possible to develop policy to encourage unstated goals? <br />
  32. 32. Learning from Failure<br />Design methods <br />Iteration<br /> Effective use<br />Critique of power<br />Context<br />

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