Innovation Paper

This paper (1000-1500 words, submitted via email as a .doc or similar attachment) gives you an opportunity to start studying and analyzing your community by focusing on an innovation produced by someone within the community and used by the community. We can understand “innovation” broadly: the innovation might be an object or an idea, a tool or technology, a particular text, concept, or theory, a way of doing or making things, or anything else along these lines.

The Innovation Paper should incorporate some research but should ultimately move beyond information to analysis. We want you to inform us about the innovation, but we also want deeper insight into the innovation and how it has contributed to your community. This aspect of your work might draw on research, but it should also draw on your own critical thinking. Your paper should address the following prompts and questions:

  • Tell us about the innovation. What is it? What does it do? How does it work? Also, tell us about who made it and the context in which it was made. How did this innovation come about? For the creator of the innovation, we don’t need a complete biography, but include any information that helps us better understand the innovation itself.
  • Why is this innovation significant? How has it shaped and contributed to the community? How might it continue to affect the community into the future?
  • How does the innovation embody the community’s orientation – its attitudes, values, beliefs, assumptions, and ways of looking at the world? Does the innovation work against or expand this orientation in any way?
  • How does the innovation fit within the community’s design grammar – its principles for what sort of content and social practices and activities are important and acceptable for the community?
  • How does the innovation generate trained incapacities? How does/might the innovation downplay or blind the community to particular perspectives, issues, concerns, or values? How does/might the innovation serve as a hindrance to developments within the community?
  • Briefly conclude by synthesizing these various points from your analysis and making an evaluation argument about the innovation. Do you ultimately see the innovation as good or bad, helpful or unhelpful, effective or ineffective for the community? Why? What might the community do to further take advantage of the innovation or to mitigate its effects?

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