On the Relationship between Trust and Innovation

As Design Public III inches ever closer, we’ve been trying to articulate, and more deeply understand for ourselves, what we mean by Trust, Participation and Innovation, and how they relate to each other. Over the next weeks, we will be sharing our thoughts and research on these questions, the first of which is concerned with trust and how it relates to creativity, and by extension, innovation.

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This past year has been rife with protest, from the Ram Lila grounds to Tahrir Square and Zucotti Park, all of which appear to have sprung from a breakdown in trust: society, or the public at large, seems to have lost faith in their governments as well as private corporations, no longer trusting that these entities are working in their interest. This breakdown in society’s trust in its largest, most long-standing institutions is a crisis with very wide-ranging consequences in the social as well political sphere.

Anna Hazare en route to Ram Lila grounds

At CKS, however, we are most concerned with how this crisis of trust impacts innovation, which as we see it, is twofold. [Read more…]

How Shall We Understand the Public Interest?

By Aditya Dev Sood

Panchayat meeting on Village Sanitation in Khera village, Budaun District, UP

At the Design Public Conclave, we are concerned to explore how Innovation serves or is related to the Public Interest. In order to address that large question, however, we must first consider what we might mean by this high-minded term. And to do, we first ask, what is the Public?

On account our Socialist past, and our nearly extinct figuration as a ‘developing’ society, one still commonly encounters references to the ‘sectors of society,’ organized as (i) the Government (ii) the Public Sector (iii) the Social Sector and (iv) the Private Sector. Whereas, prior to liberalization (i) and (ii) were seen to operate more or less indistinguishably from one another, their roles now appear to be diverging, with the role of Government having to do more and more with the creation and regulation of markets, while the Public Sector is either privatized or else outsources all its core functions and operations to the Private Sector.

While representatives of each of these sectors may operate in ways which it claims are in the Public Interest, the ways in which they make these claims are varied. Moreover, in each case, it is difficult for anyone to articulate how the interests of the particular bureaucracy or organizational or financial-communications network is actually aligned with the putative Public Good. The collective interests of society, when described as the vector sum of all the diversely oriented forces operating upon and within it appears as a static quantity, which can easily be reduced — through corruption, inefficiency, venality, cupidity, and the concomitant destruction of value — but which cannot easily be increased except in so far as a functioning service-providing entity continues to operate with its own enlightened self-interest in mind. Thus do we once again derive, through a metaphor of vector integration, Adam Smith’s famous Invisible Hand, whereby private ambitions are channeled towards the larger aims of society.

[Read more…]