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An in depth reading of the theme “Bottom up innovation” from our Futur(s) 10 book.

2011 started with the ''outraged'' protest movements. Revolutions spread across Europe,  popular gatherings multiplied, while dictators fell during the now called ''Arab Spring''.

''Bottom up innovation'', a theme of our ''Futur(s) 10'' publication, anticipated these first steps towards empowerment and their possible consequences, beyond the political sphere, on tomorrow's consumption. Here's a more in-depth analysis.

Emerging trends: empowerment of the crowds

1. Levi's last campaign ''Go forth'' website engages young people to change the world with concrete actions. A clear, radical call for uncompromising action. 2. ''Thank you people, thank you Facebook'' graffiti in Tunis, published in Business week, 2011. Protesters  originated the Arab movement with the help of anonymous hackers. They used social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, as their main channels to call for protests and express their demands. 3. Philosopher Peter Sloterdijk's latest essay, ''You must change your life'', calls for a radical change. A ''must'' that applies to everyone, without distinction. 4. With already 5 seats in Europe, The Pirate party keeps on growing. This successful movement strives for an equal and free access for all to culture, knowledge and information.

Since the beginning of the crisis, the awareness has risen among consumers, nourishing deep frustrations. Capitalism, in some of its very foundations, seems absurd. The elite is in inertia.

While, from all sides, calls for action and empowerment increase, (see 1. & 3.) while pirate parties' success grow (see 4.), while The Arab Revolutions' outcome (see 2.) demonstrates that an overthrow is possible through pacific organisation and collaboration, a growing number are deciding to become part of the solution rather than the problem. These people choose to become opponents, to take initiative and to propose alternative models.

And thus one world ends, while another already emerges, bypassing the traditional system, creating new economic and social models. These are based on autonomy, shared powers, and collaboration. Through the masses, the amateurs, the precarious, change is happening in a bottom-up approach. Forging a model that will radically overturn the established order, already sketching out a new modern, multiple and poly-centric world.

Evolution of values : autonomy and shared power

Almighty amateur

Internet has modified the link between producers and consumers. It has lead to the era of the omnipotent consumer-creators, who bypass traditional hierarchy by reversing the classical capitalist conceptions of consumption (offer and market dictate the rules of consumption). From now on, amateurs will take action. Networking, self-organising locally, developing new technology and a true contribution infrastructure, they inform the world, create the ideal offer, service and product.

Towards dispossession

Collaboration, shared rules, demonetization of specific web-savvy goods and services, have led to the questioning of ownership in itself. When renting/trading/lending is possible, why get physically and financially cluttered by one purchase ?

In the light of such evolution, a model for the future emerges. Similar to the bike self-service, it is about going from service-including goods to goods-including services.
Transiting to a more ecological, more human and cheaper rent-based economy.

Creative concepts: Lead the leaders

Open-source (''share-it-all'') is expanding beyond the frontiers of the web. DIY, co-creation, exchange of best practices and transparency are now the core values that are sketching out tomorrow's services, through non-traditional channels.

1.The ''Instructables restaurant'' in Amsterdam  2. ''Rally fighter'' local motors, photo © www.wired.com

1. The ''Instructables'' Amsterdam restaurant is a real life transposition of the eponymous website (web-based documentation platform where anyone can share their expertise).Clients can search and find online all the restaurant's recipes, as well as all the restaurant's ''source code'' , including furniture and decoration. ''In some restaurants, if you like the furniture you can buy it. But in the Instructables Restaurant you go home knowing how to make the food as well as the chair you were sitting on.'' Arne Hendriks, project creator.

2. It will change the auto industry forever. The ''Rally fighter'' is the first ''Creative Commons'' car, made by a community of internet people (engineers, designers and amateurs). Gathered on the Local Motors website, they elected a designer (Sangho Kim) and all participated in the creation process.

1. Zipcar's car-sharing service, ''the car for people who don't want one'' 2. Printer 3D Thing-O-Matic!, by Makerbot Industry

1. Zip car is a car-sharing service that redefines automobile use. It simply provides the online possibility to rent a car, rather than buying one, for short periods of time and specific occasions. In other words: all the benefits (features, convenience, pleasure) without the inconvenience (maintenance and costs). More ecological and economical, the model is particularly appreciated by young urban guys, for who 'ownership' isn't so important any more.

2. 'Thing–O-matic!'' is the first ''cheap'' printer (1000 €) that can build physical objects from virtual, computer-conceived models. With endless possibilities: replacement parts, toys, kitchen accessories... Still exclusively reserved for a well-informed, geek audience, it starts the democratization, in the short run, of all-purpose objects of a new kind.