When I did my masters I was lucky to have some of the world’s brightest students as my colleagues. They would stick in the library until midnight. They would perform perfect literature analysis, use the best tools, gather data and come up with very clever solutions and insights. I was amazed seeing some of their final presentations. But after our festive graduation ceremonies, nothing happened. Their work entered the realms of total silence.

I was an average performer in terms of grades, but made a big effort from the start to make my research as relevant as possible. After graduation, I shared my thesis on the consumer potential of collaborative consumption through slideshare. By now it’s available on multiple locations and has been viewed tens of thousands times by people from around the world. It’s been used, applied and build on by policy-makers (including the EU), start-ups, companies and researchers.

As a co-founder of shareNL I have been thinking, doing and living in the collaborative economy for the past 3.5 years. Making a better use of existing capacity is at the core these economic systems. Therefore it is an absolute pain to me, to see each wave of new research, brake on the sand before it reaches the shores of practitioners. While at the same time, decision-makers from the public and private sectors often base their vision and decisions on newspaper headlines or expensive private consultants. I know from my own experience, that it is possible to let those waves of research play with the shores of practitioners, and shape our world.

No event is better in bringing different worlds to the same location as OuiShareFest. It was our best shot of trying out a workshop dedicated to bring the world’s of researchers and practitioners together. We framed the workshop corresponding the conference theme: ‘after the gold rush.’ We invited people to help us define the gold, after the rush. It worked, we had about 50 guests of whom about half were researchers, and the other half were not. We spread them out equally in small groups. Here’s what happened:

 

Round 1 – Gathering equipment

Each group crowdsourced everything the group members had already learned so far.

 

My main take-aways:

·          There is already a wealth of knowledge and experience among available.

·          Practitioners and researcher already benefit from each other’s lessons.

·          It can be a challenge to find a common language. The role of an interpreter is sometimes  necessary.

 

Round 2 – Gold digging

Group members split in even smaller groups and went looking for their raison d’être of themselves: why are you doing what you are doing? And of the collaborative economy: how can the collaborative economy be meaningful for your raison d’être?

 

My main take-aways:

·          It energizes people to think about the ‘why’ question.

·          Going to the ‘why’ level helps to build bridges between different worlds. Very often there are huge similarities that cause bonding and help build a common ground.

 

Round 3 – Crafting jewellery

The groups come back together and share the outcomes of the one-on-one’s. They gather the equipment from round one, and the gold from round two and start crafting jewellery.

 

My main take-aways:

·          Going back to the practical level is a real challenge. We had little time for this round and for many groups it was difficult to come up with concrete ideas.

·          Some clever ideas came up though, read all about them in Paula Land’s take on the workshop.

 

We got a jewel to share

The invitation by Rachel Botsman and Oxford University to try to bridge the gap by building an online research library dedicated to the collaborative economy, really hit home. For little over a year we are building a ‘research honeypot’ where everyone can quickly find relevant research and what makes it relevant. It’s a place that offers any researcher the chance to bring his/her work to a (much) larger audience. This is the jewel we are crafting with a bunch of great partner universities and organizations: collaborativeeconomy.com

 

What is your experience? How do you believe we could best activate the idling capacity of the research world? What would you do to increase the relevance of research? What other options exist to make research relevant for practitioners?

By Pieter van de Glind

 

If you want more information about the workshop format or the library, please contact: knowledge@shareNL.nl

 

Picture through the Ouishare Fest orginization

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