July 7, 2011

Auf wiedersehen

#oui11 — the Open and User Innovation 2011 — conference has been over for almost 24 hours, and the participants have scattered to the wind.

Actually, they have mostly returned to Austria, Germany, Switzerland or Scandinavia. My previous estimate of a dozen US-based participants appears to have been high, the number of Asians and Brits was half that; otherwise, there appear to have been misc. Europeans, two students from Mozambique and one Canadian. (Fred Gault of Canada doesn’t count in the latter category, because he’s clearly gone native.)

The emotional highlight of the half-week was the “Gala” dinner Tuesday — at a rather famous Vienna conference center — that turned into a celebrity roast for Eric von Hippel. I was going to offer an entire post on the roast — and the planned book honoring Eric’s 70th birthday next month — but I didn’t bring my laptop to take notes and my cellphone pictures didn’t turn out. A few notes from the roast:
  • EVH is a fifth generation college professor. (I knew about his dad Arthur from my study of MIT’s impact on the San Diego telecom industry, but not the earlier generations.)
  • Before he launched a revolution against IP, EVH was granted four US patents and the rights to extract proprietary rents from them: #3533249, 3541579, 3578909 and 3640482.
  • Since his 1986 article, he’s garnered more than 10,000 citations for his books and articles.
  • As best I can tell, his four most recent PhD students were present: Stefan Thomke (Harvard), Dietmar Harhoff (Munich), Sonali Shaw (Washington) and Karim Lakhani (Harvard). Also, one of his current PhD students, Benjamin Mako Hill, was enjoying not having to run the conference (as with last year).
I’ll post more info on the book once the details are finalized.

Overall, the conference is bigger, and with it the frustration of having to choose between conflicting tracks is getting stronger. However, the conference is still relatively intimate and manageable in size — at least when held in Europe and all the Americans stay home — and the quality of the ideas remains good.

The WU Wien’s innovations of thematic overviews and roundtable papers were good ones. I spotted two areas for improvement. Timekeeping (and timekeeping norms) in the sessions and roundtables could have been more predictable. <self-interested-plug>Also, of the eight themes of the track, only one (open innovation) was not represented: open innovation.</self-interested-plug>

Many of the participants will be reuniting in San Antonio next month, for that large impersonal (and now overpriced) gathering that the Academy has become famous for. (This year, an added bonus is August in one of the hottest parts of the country).

Otherwise, we will be reuniting next year on the other side of the pond, with a lot more Americans and a few less European Ph.D. students. The conference is scheduled to be held at MIT and Harvard July 31-Aug 2, in anticipation of the the Academy plague descending on the city a few days later.

As user innovation continues to grow in popularity — and perhaps as open innovation (as defined here) continues to be accepted at the OUI conference — it seems certain that OUI 2012 will be the biggest ever, posing challenges as to how to maintain the intimate feeling. But it will still be smaller than DRUID, let alone more than 7000 people expected for next month’s Academy.

I hope to be blogging additional topics on OUI 2011 over the next week or two.

No comments: