How can designers and innovators think better, together, helping to make their ideas more accessible and relevant?
The open source software development community provides an excellent case study and illustration. Complex, distributed development projects employ software configuration management systems based around a set of simple, powerful ideas for version control of linked components and variants. This practice is the basis for the popular GitHub platform, where anyone may access 'source files' for software projects and copy ('fork') them to work on an alternative version ('branch'), or add their own new features and fixes in order to 'merge' these improvements into the original repository.
Like programmers, innovative designers create solutions by building from prior knowledge and applications to address new challenges or improve on old results. Often, this involves the use of an effective pattern language of best practices, conventions, modular components, and shared understanding within a given field or discipline, analogous to the programming languages of software developers.
There is presently no system to link the distributed knowledge and design process of open innovation outside of niche communities and siloed web platforms.
A new, collaborative, version controlled concept mapping environment built on top of a shared, semantically structured graph database will change this. The open source metamaps.cc platform already online and in use by several open innovation communities is a big step, and we want to take it much further!