I have been recently reading “The open book of social innovation” by Robin Murray, Julie Caulier-Grice and Geoff Mulgan, part of their series on methods and issues in social innovation. The introduction ends on a very interesting note: “This book is a work in progress. It is very much a snapshot, designed to encourage further contributions. The methods for social innovation should be a common property, and should evolve through shared learning. Social innovations often struggle against the odds – all of our chances of success will increase if we can share our experiences and quickly reflect on what works and what doesn’t.”
This is not the only work on social innovation that adopts this mentality so characteristic to the field it contributes to, in terms of sharing their knowledge in order for others to be able to take advantage of it as soon as possible. It is, indeed, a noble act, consistent with the values associated to social innovation and its research. But what about the books that sell at around 150 eur, encouraging people in their pages to share unconditionally, to all contribute and to constantly innovate, the books that value collaboration and sharing among all and stress the importance of bottom-up initiatives, feeding dreams of contributions to the world with little finances. Are they practicing what they preach or is it just a nice, well selling discourse? The answer might not be that simple. Some authors share their chapters of the work for free, on public platforms, others will happily honor any requests for the material from aspiring researchers or social entrepreneurs. Bottom line is that each author has different views on the importance of sharing their work with the world and how this will benefit them or not, though I personally sustain and admire authors who value and appreciate sharing, openness and accept the contribution of their readers to the work. Social innovation does not address rich people, at least not at the bottom. These people aren’t any less important, but the contrary – it is from the simple contributor that social innovation will flourish in theory and in practice. My question to you is Do you consider that authors in the field of social innovation have a moral responsibility of making their work accessible to everyone? Should all books on social innovation be open?