The Opportunities of New Media in the Development of the Youth’s Innovative Potential

Connect-universum 2012
Author: Kuzheleva-Sagan I.P.

The Opportunities of New Media in the Development of the Youth’s Innovative Potential


As we know the concept of New Media has a very broad meaning. In this case we are going to talk about such new media as network humane technologies. However, first of all we need to understand the concept of «innovation potential of young people» as a possible result of application these technologies.

In contemporary Russia everybody, including politicians, businessmen, scholars, teachers, journalists, talks about the necessity of developing the innovation potential of young people. The titles of conferences and articles contain different combinations of the words “young people’s innovation potential” (YPIP) which have turned into some kind of “mantra”. It is a common practice to define “YPIP” as a set of some characteristics possessed by young people which permit them to be engaged in innovation activities. Despite there is an agreement on definition for innovation activities, there is still no common definition for the “set of characteristics”. It raises at least three questions:
1) What kind of characteristics does this set consist of?
2) Why is it so necessary to emphasize the importance of young people’s innovation potential if people of other ages are also capable of conducting innovation activities?
3) Finally, what are the ways to turn young people’s innovation potential as a “set of characteristics” into young people’s innovation potential as system characteristics of a young individual which is manifested in his deliberate striving for innovation and determines his professional choice, career, and place in the society.

After clarifying the authors’ opinion about the first and the second questions, we will try to answer the third one. We will present our own model of technology for developing of young people’s innovation potential that is the main objective of this paper.
Young people’s innovation potential – a “Pandora’s Box” or the most Valuable Resource?
It has been a while since psychologists figured out that human being is not a machine with determined functions and power potential, which can be directly embedded into any production system. Nevertheless a reductionistic approach to the human innovation potential (IP) and its role in modern society still exists in theory and practice of Russian management. Within such a simplified approach an “innovation potential of an employee” is regarded as a complex of 4 abilities.

They are: 1) an ability to perceive new information, 2) to increase professional knowledge, 3) to put forward new competitive ideas and 4) to find solutions to non-standard tasks and new ways of solving common tasks.
Without pretending to disclose the whole depth of such complex phenomenon as human innovation potential, we want to note that there must be at least one more — fifth — element in its structure. It is a values indicator an employee is focused on in his innovation activity. Ideally, this «fifth element» would differentiate an IP engineer, manager, and programmer from an IP killer, terrorist, and hacker. Emphasizing the role of young people as those possessing the innovation potential, most of the Russian researchers do not specify the IP phenomenon in relation to this particular generation. Hence, a conclusion (perhaps quite arguable) suggests itself that “innovative potential” in respect to a person of any age is universal, i. e. has the same structure.

However we want to consider the point of view of some Russian scholars who define innovation potential of young people as a specific phenomenon and separate it from their novative characteristics (NC). NC are the attributive features possessed by young people in any society and in any historical era. As a natural way to support sociality novative characteristics of the youth are quite primitive but thanks to them a person orientates in the surroundings even without a certain experience. In a certain sense not only youth, but also young primates and even young birds have novative characteristics. NC are the basis for creative thinking. Novative characteristics of young people are, per se, the nature of their perception and the absence of fear of making mistakes.

What are the differences between young people's innovation potential and youth’s NC?

From our point of view, the concept of G. Burns about “iconoclasts” helps to understand this difference. In other words, it helps to understand the diversity between young innovators-“iconoclasts” and «ordinary» young people with sensitive perception and lack of fear of being mistaken.

Basically this difference is expressed in social skills which certainly are not limited only by the ability to represent the innovation ideas. Ideally, they should include the ability to build effective communication and to get involved in mutual activities with all the subjects of interest (“partners”, “opponents”, “experts”, “investors”, “consumers”, “mass media”).
There is another point that makes YPIP different from NC. Firstly, it allows young people to go beyond the limits of “here and now” situation into broader contexts.( It is meant that a “new knowledge” is supposed to be produced not only because it is needed “here and now” but also in the future.) Secondly, it is focused on moral values that are dominant in the society. If we compare innovation potential of young people and older ones, should we find out that in the first case the dominant component is “novative characteristics”, and in the second case – social skills and “value orientation”.

YPIP may become an “explosive mixture” and be used in public favor or vice versa, when there are poorly developed social skills, low value orientation, no fear of being mistaken, but high level of creativity. It explains the controversial attitude of society and state institutions towards YPIP. Officially, the idea of developing innovation potential is always supported. In real life it is often not encouraged or even restrained because of the fear of unpredictable results. Due to these and some other issues the young people’s innovation potential remains to be latent (“asleep”), i.e. on the level of novative characteristics

However, the public opinion on the young people’s innovation potential, as the basic source for the novative characteristics – creativity and freedom of thinking, is being drastically changed under the pressure of quantity, diversity and complexity of the challenges the society faces. They become such rare and valuable resources that it is impossible to ignore them or to postpone their development.
How to awaken the young people’s innovation potential and to direct it for constructive purposes?
Speaking of the technology for developing young people’s innovation potential we want to make the following idea clear. We are far from thinking that successful developing YPIP is the result of applying any humanities technologies or even High-Hume. Personal human consciousness and sub consciousness as the objects for influence are too complicated and understudied phenomena. There is no way to find the direct connection between them and any influence resources. Human being is a “super-complex self-developing system”. He always has the freedom of choice of any other action (reaction) in any concrete situation. The same is true for the situation when he is the object for any technology application.

At the same time, it has been observed that there is nothing can form human thinking and behavior as a certain environment. Due to this fact the technology for developing young people’s innovation potential is nothing but the technology for creating the appropriate innovation environment (IE) that forms YPIP. The key moment here is determining the parameters of the innovation environment.
The first thing to focus, when determining these parameters, is their correspondence to the forming system social quality which is young people’s innovation potential. The second thing is socio-psychological particular qualities of young people as social subjects. We have already mentioned some of those qualities which are flexible perception, the ability to process large information flow and the lack of fear of making mistakes. Also there is an instability and paradoxicalness of young people’s consciousness and behavior. This paradoxicalness is revealed in combination of controversial features. It is assumed that young people have problems with self-actualization because of their partial (incomplete) involving in the system of social relations, the real creative activity. It turns to be the main reason for the mentioned contradiction between consciousness and behavior.
It helps to formulate a preliminary hypothesis. The environment which forms young people’s innovation potential (novation characteristics + social skills and communication competences + value orientations) must have certain parameters: system qualities, communicativity, network structure, openness, self-developing, non-linearity, synergetic constructionism, combination of the principles of freedom and control, high novelty, reflexivity, poly-subjectiveness, interaction between social subjects, research (projective) focus, educational character, emotional impact, ability to satisfy ambitions, insight into everyday life. Those parameters suppose to provide future innovators with the wide range of facilities.
It is clear that the parameters of the IE all are interconnected and each of them represents the condition for functioning of one or several other parameters. Overlapping each other, the parameters enhance the main emergent (synergetic) feature of the IE which is YPIP formation. Thereby the IE turns out to be a complex self-developing socio-communicative system which aims to form YPIP as a system characteristic of a social subject. IE communicative ontology explains its procedural (permanently changing) structure.
In our opinion, the best metaphor to define this structure is the term “hub” as a “junction” of various communications and, at the same time, the “center” of innovative thinking and innovative activities. But as far as communication, thinking, activities are “born” by people, the term “HUB” means the “union of people generating innovations” (HUB is the abbreviation for “Human”, “Union”, “Bearing… the innovations!”).
What is the technology for developing the “HUB-environment” which forms young people’s innovational potential?
The basic hypothesis: The humanities networking technology (Net-high-Hume) under the conventional term “Up To the HUB” may become one of the most effective technologies for developing young people’s innovation potential. It may be accomplished by creating an appropriate environment – the “HUB” (“Join the union of those who create innovations” or “Come to the communication HUB bearing innovations”).
The basic characteristics of this technology are: 1) information and communication ontology; 2) self-organization; 3) “double-net” mode (functioning in “on-line and off-line” mode); 4) belonging to the triple-helix system; 5) ability to be embedded in problem-oriented social media (such as “facebook” platform).
The hypothesis is based on a set of socio-philosophic, socio-economic, socio-psychological and natural sciences theories and concepts. All together they allow to accept a principle of possibility of developing such technology as ”Up to the HUB”. The pivotal theories of the methodological complex are: the concept of information network society by M. Castells; the theory of social systems by N. Luhmann; the sociology of the intellectual communicative networks by R. Collins; the theory of self-organization by I. Prigogine and H. Haken; the idea of the “Chaordic Allience” by D. Hock; the idea of four principles of “collective intelligence” existence by D. Tapscott and A. D. Williams; cognitive psychology by G. A. Kelly; the hypothesis of techno-humanitarian balance by A. Nazaretyan; the triple-helix concept by H. Etzkowitz.
All the mentioned concepts and theories have unique methodological opportunities for developing different elements of our technology. But only when combined they turn into a complex, necessary for implementing “Up to the HUB” as Net-High-Hume which is capable of creating the innovation environment, developing YPIP. That reveals system (emergent, synergetic) characteristics of the represented methodological complex.

Now we proceed directly to the description of humanities networking technology «Up to the HUB».
In the implementation of the humanities technology “Up to the HUB” one will find the following participants:
a) the target audience – “network” youth (senior pupils, students, recent university graduates);
b) experts – acknowledged innovators from various fields of professional activities, including scientific, technical and artistic;
c) organizers, moderators and researchers (university structures – departments, research groups);
d) grant givers and sponsors (governmental and non-governmental funds, business-structures, venture capital companies, private companies, etc.);
e) hosting providers
The algorithm of «Up to the HUB» that creates innovative environment (“HUB”) for the development of the young people’s innovation potential is as follows. The first step implies that researchers identify the cluster of the most zealously discussed “innovation” issues in the global electronic communicative space (social media and official mass media) and a group of the most acknowledged experts in the related field.
The idea of the second step is that organizers and moderators carry-out appropriate seminar-discussion with the participation of these experts on one of the several international educational platforms in the double mode – “on-line and off-line” (live seminar broadcasting). The international educational platforms are organized on universities bases and form an academic ”net” (inter university partnership).
At the third step discussion is relocated to the problem-oriented social network (“Facebook” technologies permit quick development of profiled networks). Discussion is supported in the network by moderators and experts during a particular period of time (1 to 4 months). All this time the target audience (young people who are interested in innovations) has the opportunity to get the answers to their questions in the on-line mode directly from the experts.

The fourth step: the most important and current issues get revealed and accumulated and the plan of work for the next on-line and off-line seminar is being developed, and so on in the “helix” mode.
The main advantages of the technology “Up to the HUB” are in the fact that it creates self-organizing “HUB-environment” in which:

1. Not only experts and researchers but also the targeted audience itself (young people) will be able to participate in forming the content of the process to develop their innovative potential. The phenomenon of “collective intelligence” that appears at this stage will maintain the values of individual intelligence.

2. Thanks to social media the following will happen: a) the broadening of the net of targeted audience — there will be more young innovators and they will be instantly known by all the participants of the “triple helix” (universities, business and governmental institutions); b) the “connection” of innovative environment to everyday life of youth.

3. The combination of the two modes (“on-line and off-line”) will provide the state of “productive disequilibrium” of the “HUB”-environment not allowing it to be either totally controlled (ordered) or uncontrolled (chaotic). Freedom of discussion in the social “on-line”-network will be combined with planning of workshop content in the academic “off-line”-network. In addition, the presence of these two modes provides a “techno-humanities balance” necessary for: a) carrying out humanities and axiological expertise of all the suggested ideas; b) the adoption of innovative technological knowledge at the personal level.

Winning grants young people with the highest motivation to innovative activity will tend to participate in the workshops for face-to-face communication with the outstanding experts-innovators from different countries as the Internet will never completely replace live communication.
The use of technology “Up to the HUB” functioning on the principle of “triple helix” + “double network” (social media and academic, “on-line and off-line”) may lead to the creation of self-organizing innovative “HUB”-environment as an new type of educational structure – “Open Networking Innovation University” (ONIU). Its main socio-cultural functions are IPYP forming as its system quality and maintaining the creative abilities of the society in general.

The advantages of the open networking innovation university as the bundle (hub) in the network of intellectual communications in its accessibility (openness) for all the potential innovators, mobility, flexibility, “first-hand” knowledge transfer. ONIU is a bundle in communications network that supports the creative power of society.

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