Notes about user collaboration and cost of design / (Feat. Free Innovation)

Study notes. In this text, I am collecting ideas from Eric von Hippel (and his colleagues) in the context of Free Innovation and related to the phenomenon where collaboration from users (free) happens to change the dynamics in the stages of innovation.

According to Eric von Hippel, the cost of design and diffusion (for innovations to be created ) becomes lower when users collaborate around shared interests:

“With the internet, and so on, communication cost has dropped like a stone. Also, the understanding that modularization has expanded — design tools are increasingly digital [..] user-friendly and powerful. So what happens is that a project, that is huge, gets divided up amongst users, like Linux. All [of the] sudden you can do huge stuff. ” Eric von Hippel @ (MIT OpenCourseWare, 2014, 40min02sec)

“Now, these kinds of tools that you see around, when you look around and you see people creating apps and so on, over a weekend.. they could not have done that a few years ago. When you see people collaborating, and crowdsourcing, and so on — they could not have done that. Somebody coming in with a solution from Russia, somebody else coming in from Afghanistan and so on and so forth, right? They couldn’t have done that. But now they can, and the result is that increasingly the producer is getting challenged, and it’s no longer the case that you have to stand there and say to the producer ‘oh gee, what you really oughta do is to be really nice to your users and co-develop with them because they are so nice and it will be therapeutic and everybody be happy’, because, what is really happening is that users are beginning to drive producers out of design.” Eric von Hippel @ (MIT OpenCourseWare, 2014, 50min27sec)


Hippel, E. von. (2017). Free innovation. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store