Céline Rozenblat


The Innovation Society, Sustainability, and ICT

Domaine: Cooperation ICT

Acronyme: INSITE

Durée: 01.03.2011 – 28.02.2013

Budget total: 963.293 EUR

Budget UNIL: 20.223 EUR


Céline Rozenblat, Institut de géographie, FGSE



Our society is organized around a positive feedback dynamic that produces innovation cascades. In these cascades, new artifacts are inextricably linked with transformations in social organization and the generation of new “needs” for individual and society. Besides desired effects, these cascades produce disruptive changes in the environment and in society itself, ultimately leading to sustainability crises.

The usual, but inadequate, response to these is more innovation, unleashing new cascades, and new crises. The core challenge in improving our responses is to link current, reductionist, models of past causalities with novel approaches to increase the number of dimensions in which phenomena are perceived, so that we may get better at anticipating the unanticipated consequences of innovation cascades.

INSITE will pave the way for novel ICT approaches that will do so, since only through ICT can complex dynamics be “grasped” in sufficient detail to allow us to do the reverse of customary science: anticipate and complexify, rather than reduce and simplify. To further INSITE’s main objective to build a community dedicated to meeting the challenge described above, we will recruit people from a variety of fields to join us in working groups to

  1. prepare case studies that illuminate the dynamics of innovation cascades involving ICT, from printing to the internet,
  2. develop a roadmap indicating the kinds and uses of models to understand and guide these dynamics in the direction of sustainability,
  3. devise experiments to elucidate innovation dynamics, in the context of multiplayer online computer games,
  4. envision practices and technologies to enable networks of innovators to engage in experiments in “participatory policy”, and
  5. explore the implications in theory and practice of reconceptualizing technology to include its social dimensions, leading to a notion of “generalized ICT” that includes such diverse things as cities, urban systems and museums.