Bettina’s interview with Dr Ioan M Ciumasu on his start-up, Interactive Knowledge Maps (IKM)
Dear Ioan, many thanks for taking the time to talk to us. You have embarked on an ambitious project, what motivated you to develop Interactive Knowledge Maps?
Our society reflects the scientific progresses during the past 200 years, but science as a community of people is also a reflection of our society. Both are now facing great challenges and changes, and they need each other more than ever. In order to survive in a world of Big Data, I think we need to see the Big Picture, and to make it practical. Right now, I am connecting the dots, combining science and entrepreneurship methods to develop a tool where a large number of experts and citizens can help each other.
Who might be interested in your services, and why? I.e. what do the different communities get out of it?
Through IKM, scientists and citizens can help each other understand the Bigger Picture of science-in-society and function within it in terms of personal opportunities and action. Being a result of expert-expert and expert-citizens interactions and projects, IKM represents a natural tool for those researchers who want to stay attuned to important societal issues and help solving them through more multi-disciplinary research and co-authorship; and for those citizens who want to stay close to the new trends and the options brought about by science and technology.
Further, the users can interact on various topics within the maps, in order to expand those, and eventually share opportunities, generate new projects and publications. In this sense, IKM is a bit similar to current social media, but it is more structured so that the user does not lose the perspective under a deluge of information. Still, IKM remains completely flexible: while the information and inputs are being processed through our own data/information treatment protocol, the user retains complete control upon its account and navigation.
IKM is a new, original and versatile tool, and many applications can be imagined if you are a scientist, an engineer, an educator, a parent, a project manager, an entrepreneur, an NGO activist, a public administrator, a student, or another type of professional or active citizen.
The long-term purpose of IKM is to develop a minimal common denominator of knowledge, one that is understandable and useful for both experts and citizens. IKM uses the concept of crowd intelligence for the benefit of individual users, while scientists remain scientists and citizens remain citizens. To insure clarity of roles between experts and citizens, IKM is organized as a set of 3 distinct main knowledge maps that are interconnected (details below) by topics. Each of the three also has several levels of details that can be zoomed in/out as needed by the user as needed.
IKM is meant to provide the general orientation and the perspective that you need in order to see what matters, what is new, where you are in terms of objectives, challenges, resources, skills and opportunities.
What has been your journey so far?
For the past 16 years, I have been working in parallel as a scientist, technology developer, educator, and innovation manager. I was never happy with just one of those roles, because my fundamental interest – science in society – required them all.
I have been involved in multi-disciplinary projects, some involving technology prototypes, others involving transformations of entire communities. In such projects, knowledge co-generation and co-ordination is the greatest challenge. It all comes down to developing a “common language” for all participants. This requires the development of new methods and tools. This is the goal that I am pursuing.
During the past years, I have developed, together with my collaborators the Sustainable Community Reference Model (SCRM), which is a unique protocol for translating data and information into knowledge and action options. IKM is an application of this model, and its objective is to develop a common denominator of knowledge between experts and citizens.
There are many interesting people and chapters in the story of IKM. I am telling more on my LinkedIn page.
What are some key lessons learned? Are there any things you would have done differently? Could you have actually done them differently given your knowledge and context at the time?
It’s a matter of daring to try, and constant learning by trial and error. The details of different stages are not so important. What matters is the general progress in the right direction.
Surely, retrospective is a sweet exercise. It’s easy to say that you could have done things better or faster. But when you are the first to do something, you are surrounded by uncertainties and you don’t have the luxury of comparison.
I made a long way so far, and I still have a long way to go. So I would avoid definitive conclusions. But I think I am not mistaken to say that two things are determinant: the trust in your own capacity to learn and improve, and the power of collaboration.
How can people get involved?
As we speak, and until Sept. 1st, 2016, at 7 pm, people can get involved as supporters of the project on Kickstarter.
Further, any potential user, collaborator, friend of the project, angel investor, a corporate partner interested in developing a specific application of IKM, journalist or just curious person, can find me by email: [email protected], or by phone +33 638 189639.
Brilliant Ioan, many thanks indeed, and keep us posted.
23rd August 2016