Innovation Spaces: From access to information to access to each other

Innovation Spaces: From access to information to access to each other was the topic of a presentation delivered by TASCHA Director Chris Coward at Cotexto Digital in Bogota Colombia on October 17, 2013. Contexto Digital is a series of events organized by the National Library of Colombia and the Luis Angel Arango Library of Colombia aimed at addressing various topics at the intersection of digital media, culture, and development.

Abstract of the presentation

We all know what the typical library computer space looks like — rows of computers, each one occupied by a single person using the technology on his or her own. The underlying notion driving this configuration is that people need access to information, and that this access is optimized when each person is left alone to use the computer and internet (with assistance from a librarian when a need arises). This is the “access to information” model, and libraries have long excelled at providing this form of access.

There is another model that is experiencing tremendous growth and excitement—innovation spaces—physical places that foster community, collaboration, and creation. The notion behind these spaces is that creativity and innovation are stimulated when people and ideas come into contact with one another, not when they are isolated. There are many types of innovation spaces — hackerspaces, makerspaces, coworking spaces — all of which are founded on the “access to each other” model.

In this talk, Chris presented the concept of innovation spaces, provided a tour of different types of spaces, and discussed the economic, social, and technical drivers of this movement. Thoughts on the important role of libraries in providing such spaces for their communities were also shared.

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