Designing Innovation Economics


Why Creator Spaces is innovation economics


I liked this when I came across it “Thinking is a kind of making, and making is a kind of thinking” says Jessie Shefrin former Provost of The Rhode Island School of Design and past Dean of Graduate Studies of The Rhode Island School of Design.

I like this too, alot ‘design thinking … is the expression of communication – the form itself…’ that is the response I got when I asked John Maeda, at a talk at MIT this year what design thinking is — Is it the form, is it the way it is presented .. and how does it impact international affairs? His response has got me mulling on innovation economics – and a very 21st century focus. The innovation economics idea was introduced to me by Professor William Fisher of Harvard Law School, Wilmer Hale Professor of Intellectual Property. And so Professor Fisher I take the liberty to propel this idea to designing innovation economics in the 21st century. So here I am positing Creator Spaces as innovation economics in action. And yes, Prof Fisher, Intellectual Property is important and as you say, only and only if it creatively engages with culture. So I take the creative engaging with the culture of a people, the culture of counties … to a culture of creation. So, I am building and creating and designing too. Is this Ronald Dworkin`s chain novel theory playing itself out – a step by step building of things.

In particular I focus on Creator and Maker spaces which I call Creator Spaces. It is a movement rapidly gaining traction – and pioneering new pedagogies – tinkering, creator and playful learning pedagogies. No doubt this is influencing and will continue to improve a whole new wave – tinkering, playful learning and learning through play and exploration heralding novel creations as well as iterations in the new edu- tech era.

This is innovation economics birthed. A world of tinkering, software and hardware creation including an immersive engagement with technology and with materials –that is what empowers us to be courageous and creative. To make, to create – the art of playful learning and innovator spirit is boldly borne.

In seeing what we create – both online with immersive engaging of technology to building with our minds and hands to creating with materials to embracing the realm of possibilities and yes frameworks ( the lawyer in me screams legal frameworks as much computational thinking calls for system frameworks ). That is the power of Creator Space. They energise, motivate, uplift and propel growth in ones own sense of self, in creativity, in making, in building, in designing and cognition and critical thinking. And this is why it makes sense – it is innovation economics in both the digital and physical – a new form of a connected world – a world of immersive technology made simple – a world of creative making and a world of design and designing new things – software, new hardware, new things and while the search for new hardware forms and hardware materials is increasingly opening up new possibilities in materials…. Creator Spaces are about working with what is available as well making new from afresh and in that process new forms are birthed – New software creation is Creator Space and open source learning and remixing also lend impetus to this. See what amazing creations Scratch, an open source computer programme inspiring community learning and inspiring kids to create stories, animations and games – initiated at the MIT Media Lab Lifelong Kindergarden Group – is doing for kids globally here

Designing Creator Spaces is about inspiring people to take charge of their minds and ideas. I marvelled at watching the excitement and agility of the kids at MIT `s Scratch Day this May. Boundless enthusiasm and fun creations – and such confidence.

A new creator pedagogy in the making – yes – but maybe not so new in Africa and emerging economies where creator crafts and tinkering necessities were birthed. It is this staple that will take the shift to tinkering and artful play in emerging economies to levels unparalleled and a boon for innovation economics. Now that is design thinking innovation economics.  Creator Spaces is innovation economics. And yes, Intellectual Property matters.

Ayesha Dawood is a lawyer, writer and artist and educator. She is a Harvard and South African educated lawyer (@ConsultAyesha) She has an LL.M from Harvard Law School and is a recent Fellow of the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs, Harvard University. 

Open Innovation and Open Education Promote Women in ICTs

There is global recognition that our digital world must address the needs of all people but the digital gender gap remains a fundamental challenge.

To promote women’s equal participation in the creation and use of innovative technologies and digital media, we need to ensure that they have the necessary access, knowledge and support to ensure new technologies serve the needs of both men and women.

There are hundreds of initiatives around the world that promote women’s access to ICTs and that aim to create technologies for women, by women. But what is particularly promising in the field, is the work to integrate innovative policies – specifically in Intellectual Property (IP) law and open innovation – with women’s digital entrepreneurship, as well as open education programs that transform technologies through community-led initiatives.

IP Law and Open Innovation

Creators who invent new technologies require knowledge about IP laws to both protect and enable innovations. While always fully respecting IP rights, open innovation offers opportunities to bridge the global digital divide for women. New trends in open innovation provide a space for women to build their creative capacities as leaders and makers.

My experience seeing Harvard’s Innovation Lab and MIT Media Lab in action and attending its open invite workshops and events provided rich insight drawing focus to the fact that the arts and sciences including technology, engineering and math – STEAM movement – are enabled IP law. As more women move into the foray of technology production, their understanding of IP laws is an especially important component to ensure their innovations are encouraged and protected.

Innovations in Open Education

Few women are involved in designing and building the online applications that have become the new engine driving education, information, science, engineering, art, entertainment and commerce. A few novel ideas developed by young women seek to change that, some based on the principles of open innovation, others inspired by open education:

Rails Girls project is a volunteer-based coding workshop that enables for young women to take part in the digital revolution. Global Chapters, including the first Johannesburg chapter that I helped to organize in 2014, empower young women to become confident about making career choices in the new digital space.

Ruby on Rails introduces young women to creating applications and websites. Though only introductory, the participants enjoy hands-on training under the supervision of local coaches. The success of the programme, now in over 150 countries worldwide, demonstrates young women’s desire to gain ICTs skills and knowledge.

Another example, Chibitronics, co-founded by an MIT Media Lab PHD candidate, makes building circuits and electronics easy through building and creation. This is yet another example of leveraging open learning to encourage innovation.

There is abundant enthusiasm by women and girls to take part in the digital transformation of their societies. We need to inspire them to overcome obstacles and traditional barriers of entry in the digital space so they can strive to make meaningful contributions to the world of tech. We need to ensure that policy frameworks are in place in order to provide an enabling environment for women’s innovations in ICTs.

Note from ITU: The Annual GEM-TECH Awards recognize innovative solutions to bridge the digital gender gap. The GEM-TECH Awards have become a global showcase for policies and projects that promote women in ICT. Nominations are now open until August 15, 2016.

Ayesha Dawood is a South African and Harvard educated digital media and technology lawyer. She has an LL. M. from Harvard Law school and was a recent 2016 Fellow at the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs, Harvard. She is also is an artist and the author of Little Monks Africa Adventure.

Blog in  ITU Blog



THE 2 IPs: Internet Protocol and Intellectual Property –

Lets talk Mobile , Internet and Connected Devices as we explore borderless chats. And yes: Who owns your chats and who gets regulated? And: Advertisers – are we thinking of them in the regulatory landscape.

No more pigeons as carriers, but mobile messaging apps like Facebook’s and their instant messaging services and others like Whats App, WeChat, Snapchat, Viber, Line, Kakao Talk and Tencent are on the radar. They have fast outpaced mobile carriers SMS.

As we chat, we connect and we buy…. that is what advertisers want. More so, it is what companies want – both virtual and real time companies. Entrepreneurial fervour is driving more and more advancement and technology is aiding this spiral. Technology is also changing innovation in itself. Technology is allowing more and more communication and interactivity and inventions on scales small and large. Technology combined with creativity is driving innovation as business and the operations of the world are being digitised.

Mobile messaging carriers pay hefty licence fees but internet messaging applications are largely unregulated – Is this the new war – who pays and who is regulated? But should that be the war – is the question rather: with connectivity , access and communication are enhanced and the issue is one for greater connectivity and Internet access. The internet is a powerful force – an as the UN Broadband Commission spotlight: The Internet is Evolving from Connected Things to Connected Everything.

It is access and connectivity that need to be on the radar not asymmetric regulation, as mobile makes money and dual regulation discussions aid not abet minimal mobile fee discussions.

Mobile and Internet based messenger apps those that access mobile with internet and those that do not – are a reality in as much as Facebook’s is offering an alternative attempt to equalise digital access. So, Internet Protocol – IP networks are now connecting billions of physical devices, while this accelerating volume of data is driven by four major trends:

IP is fast becoming the common

language for most data

communication, especially

proprietary industrial networks.

Billions more people, things,

places, processes and devices

will come online over the next five


Existing physically stored

information is being digitized

in order to record and share

previously analogue material. For

example, the digital share of the

world’s stored information has

increased from 25% to over 98%

over the last decade38.

The introduction of Internet

Protocol version 6 (IPv6) now

removes the technical limit on the

number of devices connected to

the Internet, allowing for trillions of

trillions (i.e. 1038) of devices. – UN BROADBAND COMMISSION 2014

Mobile Internet commerce has got advertisers in a digital frenzy vying for virtual mobile users as much as getting them to part with their monies. According the recent UN Broadband Commission Report 2014 Report , the ITU predicts that the number of networked devices could reach 25 billion by 2020.

Now that is a lot of networked devices. Much more than simply mobile connectivity and IP ( Internet Protocol) trillion connectivity has the potential to transform to trillions in capital and ROI as connectivity of everything. That is the digital enabler.

The debate is on: Mobile operators are regulated. Internet service based messaging whether on mobile or otherwise are not. That is the digital revolution making inroads into what was traditionally mobile revenue. Internet service based messaging has revolutionised affordable communications. Competition is good So, lets leave this unregulated. It is a communications enabler especially in countries where mobile and telephony communications are expensive and digital access uneven. Mobile needs to up its game on affordable communications. More instant messaging applications offer a sales incentive for smart mobile purchases.

Advertisers in terms of specific communications regulatory fees are not regulated. They use infrastructure bandwidth and vicariously user’s data bandwidth . Yes they pay – but to whom and that is what should be borne in mind. Should they be? They negotiate commercial agreements and ad funded revenue model to maximise their revenue. So, why not regulate them. Yes, we have regulations and in country standards. That is not the point, the global advertisers leverage revenue as much the chats are borderless. So, lets bring them in the financial regulatory model too.

Virtual mobile messaging systems in the digital world are on the path to changing intellectual property rules. But what are the new rules in play? Are we asking the right question and to whom?

So, who owns your chats? You do, its your IP – Intellectual Property ( product of the intellect – your words, your phrases, your rhymes) but always check the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy including for escape clauses. Be mindful of jurisdiction clauses as litigation in a foreign country is expensive and sever location founds jurisdiction.

And IP – Internet Protocol and its processing power is enabling those chats to be as connected as they are borderless.

Happy chatting.

Ayesha Dawood

Published in Business Day Business Law and Tax Review February 2016

Fun of selfies take on a different hue when commercial rules apply

Treat others as you would your selfie

So- Called “selfies” are all the rage and are trending across the globe- and the high and mighty are not immune: witness the famed selfie featuring Danish Prime Minister Helle-Thorning Schmidt, UK Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service last December.

“Selfie” was named the word of the year 2013 and is now a word in the Oxford Dictionary. It is all part of the digital revolution, unless you are in the EU, that is, and the European Court of Justice’s “right to be forgotten” applies. EU citizens can request Google to delete a link associated with them. For most of the rest of us, the digital trail is our digital reality.

We should all pause as we look at the intellectual property implications of commercial exploitation and non-consensual use including public/celebrity and political figure endorsements.

The issues that demand attention – and are a potential minefield – relate to publicity rights, commercial endorsements and issues of ownership. In as much as selfies now trend on social media, the use of selfies on social media to transmit images and messages even of yourself, or which exploit public figures, is cause for legal concern.

The most famous case of a presidential embargo on selfies is not a surprising one: Samsung retweeted the selfie taken by US Boston Red Sox baseball world series champion David Oritz of himself and President Obama at an event at the White House. To all intents and purposes it was a happy and consenting US president who smiled into the camera when Oritz leaned toward him with his mobile phone in his outstretched arm. It was a joyous photograph and Oritz tweeted the photograph scripting: “ What an honour! Thanks for the #selfie, @BarackObama ”. Had that been all there was to it the tweet and photograph would have not attracted the ensuing backlash and legal, commercial and policy attention.

It just so happened that Orizt played the wrong ball at this moment and the US President and his staff were unaware that the phone had been provided to Oritz by Samsung as a promotional marketing endorsement campaign. Samsung retweeted the image with the Samsung trademark. This caused furore as US presidential policy which is akin to South Africa is that the President’s name and image cannot and was not to be used for commercial purposes.

From a legal perspective, in terms of US law, there was a smiling and consensual US president who is alleged to have said to Oritz as he leaned forward to take the selfie “ Oh, he wants to take a selfie “. In addition as both personalities are public figures it is unlikely that the US President has an action for breach of publicity rights. That is not the problem. The problem was the use of the photograph with the Samsung name, trademark and mobile. It is here that the company violated the presidential “no commercial use” rule as well as the US president’s rights of publicity.

Was this ambush marketing, commercial endorsement exploitation or lack of maturity on the part of the company?  All these factors need to be considered – but the fact is that it was a transgression as the image was retweeted and used inappropriately.

The purpose for which the image or likeness of a person is used is always important as are the circumstances with-in which use is made of the image.

The principle is quite simply that no one may use an image or likeness of another person without consent, for gain. While there is no innovation regarding selfies it is a timely reminder that in the internet and multi- media platform age where abuse are defamation are all too easy, people should be cautious.

Selfies are on the path to changing intellectual property rules in the digital world.


14 July 2014 Business Day, Business Law and Tax Review

Watch your step in the virtual market

You are a business, an online one. You are a standalone virtual online store or your online store may be linked to you physical business. Linking your online store to your business is a smart move as you have an existing customer base. If you’re a solo virtual, you need to create a customer base. Both forms of online stores require a smart e-commerce strategy. Online stores need be aware of the legal requirements of the legal, payment, business incorporation, tax and marketing aspects of a virtual trading store. These aspects are key to ensuring a successful online legal trading presence. (more…)