ENoLL membership

Registration Number n°055

Membership Application

ENoLL 5th wave



1. Basic Facts


Living Lab (host) organisation

Living Lab short name


Living Lab full name (title)

University of Reunion Island Living Lab for Teaching and Learning

Host organisation name

University of Reunion Island

Host organisation VAT number


Host organisation type

Public education service

Postal address

15 avenue René Cassin BP 7151

Post code







+262 (0)2 62 93 80 80


+262 (0)2 62 93 80 06

Web-site (URL)


Living Lab established [year]



Living Lab manager / main contact person

First name


Last name


Title (Mr/Mrs/Ms)


Postal address

PTU, Bât. 2, 2 rue J. Wetzell, Sainte-Clotilde

Post code, City



La Réunion, France




2. Membership Motivation


In the post-industrial age of our digital society, designing new services on the Web (e-services) with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) becomes crucial for regional territories in order that they be more attractive, competitive, and also more sustainable in the global economy. The Living Lab (LL) concept that is instantiated in the ENoLL label embraces these qualities, by stressing on user-centred design and open innovation process. These virtues are what make our motivation to candidate very important, because this new nature of innovation is not well known in our part of the world, i.e. the South West of Indian Ocean. Up to now, innovation is mainly seen as a linear technological downstream process, centred on enterprises (clusters) and not viewed as an iterative usage upstream process, centred on individuals.

The form of LL is attractive because it is an eco-system based on democratizing innovation with people [Von Hippel, 2005]. User-centred design innovation means that some people, called lead-users, want to innovate for themselves. It has been shown that these persons make most of the design of new services, and only a few come from manufactures. A recent study in UK mentions that there’s 2-3 times more innovation from consumers than there is from the industry [Flowers et al., 2010].

The content of LL is competitive because the best solutions from lead-users are experimented in real time by making situational analyses in “usage laboratories”. Mock-ups and prototypes are tested and instrumented to get the best-customized-personalized products and services. For example, the game design (user interaction) and interfaces of 3D multimedia video games benefit greatly from the analysis of feedbacks coming from end-users in communities of practice. So, the success of the e-service does not depend only on the technical success: it has more to do with the quality of human-computer interaction provided with the technology.

At last, the sense of LL should be more sustainable, i.e. to render a useful and free service before it to be profitable, i.e. not only based on a monetary basis but also on trust and reputation. This characteristic is fundamental in the meaning of open access innovation to serve a mission [Chesbrough, 2003] within the scope of products and services made by publicly funded universities. We share this vision of opening up to the outside world at University of Reunion Island (UR).

Indeed with the advent of high-speed Internet access and Web 2.0, the world has become an island in the universe. UR would like to become a smart city of this universe with no frontiers (Reunion symbol), i.e. a Living Lab of the closed world living together. It is like a real and virtual village where distances and barriers are abolished by the network and the desire of its users (citizens) to adopt a collective intelligence and co-create e-services in a real life context.

Every one at university can exchange information, share applications and tools, then tinker and innovate. In our universe city, we emphasize an ethical shift of paradigm: social networks enhance individuals who deliver their content (data), form (information), and meaning (knowledge) freely to people. Domain communities are constituted where some persons take the leadership by being examples in this gift economy [Anderson, 2008]. They become renown and generate trust because they share their ideas, know-how, and respond to questions like in open source forums. The real frontiers between countries and the walls between manufactures are not attributes of our university in this global open real and virtual world.

Our membership motivation is to bring the concept of LL alive in Reunion Island and promote the very nice job made by ENoLL until several years in this part of the world, i.e. the South West of Indian Ocean. This desire espouses the will of our university that wants to open up to the outside world, and the LL label will give us the opportunity to stimulate human values for research and innovation in communities of practice.

Our UR contribution in the ENoLL consortium deals mainly with the development of this third aspect of LL: sustainability of e-services on top of the two other attractiveness and competitiveness pillars. This objective focuses on quality of education in the digital economy and society: our University of Reunion Island Living Lab (UR.LL) volunteers to engage in this direction.

The quality of education can be approached by new ways of Teaching and Learning with ICT. For example, serious games are new immersive means of playing with teaching and learning objects. Teachers can produce contents that are embedded in learning entities called neurons and that students must validate to go to a further level of the game [Sébastien & Conruyt, 2007]. Simulation tasks of students may be enhanced by immersive technologies at the junction of virtual universes and augmented interactions with smartphones. On these usage aspects for appropriation of teaching and learning materials, we are partners of the “3D Living Innovation” LL that is part of the smartsystem/La Fabrique duFutur consortium. They propose to deliver a technological accompaniment with their Fab Lab for testing industrial tools from large industries and research labs.

Lastly on content aspects, we will collaborate this year in the frame of an International Consortium of Teaching and Learning Centres (ICTLC) that groups ten universities in the world. The mission is to improve the quality of teaching and learning in member institutions by creating a collaborative platform for developing knowledge, sharing resources and case studies, providing leadership and encouraging community building. So, we want to apply for a UR.LL.TL in 2011 in order to promote the concept of LL in the Teaching and Learning world of universities.


3. Description and Characteristics


Reunion Island is gifted with beauties, from a lovely endemic nature to varied ethnic groups, arts and culture. From a natural perspective, our territory is a hot spot of biodiversity for which the Reunion National Park received the UNESCO World heritage label. From a culture viewpoint, Reunion Island is a symbol of a mixed population working in harmony on a small rock, like a micro-living laboratory of the world in the universe.

To develop a sustainable tourism as wanted by the regional policy, we have to develop awareness about the richness of our cirques and reefs, i.e. educate responsible citizens. This is also true for the diversity of our cultural heritage to be enhanced (music, dance, cooking) and that must be preserved from globalization and uniformity. The fact is that our island, as the earth, is a common property that must be preserved from human degradations. It must also keep its cultural identity to stay attractive. The most basic thing to do to protect our environment is to enhance knowledge about it, because we can only protect what we know!

The first e-co-bio-tourism instantiation of our UR.LL.TL will contribute to this new culture of awareness by bringing naturalists e-services to better know the biodiversity of our terrestrial and marine territory. Thus, the first application of our LL is to manage biodiversity collaboratively with people. It needs a new Teaching and Learning approach that simulates observation cases to identify correctly biological objects. The fact is that without the name of the specimen, we cannot access to information on species and sensitize citizens to endangered beauties of the Island.

Computer Assisted Systematics is the fundamental domain in Biology that we want to enhance. Training how to observe and describe living organisms is the basis for making people aware of their environment. And there are some experts that spent their whole life to observe biological objects, and got know-how, i.e. tacit knowledge. But these lasts are going on retirement, with all their described specimens in museum collections, data in spread sheets or databases, information in papers or notebooks and knowledge in brain that cannot be shared or transmitted to future generations.

Since several years, we proposed a knowledge management method based on top-down transmission of experts’ knowledge, i.e. acquisition of a descriptive model and structured cases and then processing of these specimens’ descriptions with decision trees and case-based reasoning. We designed a tool called IKBS for Iterative Knowledge Base System to build knowledge bases. But the fact is that Knowledge is transmitted with text, not shared with multimedia, and there is a gap between interpretations of specialists and end-users that prevents these lasts from getting the right identification!

Today, we prefer to deliver a sign management method for “teaching and learning” how to identify these specimens on a Co-Design or Creativity Platform. This bottom-up approach is more pragmatic and user-centred than the previous one because it implicates end-users at will and is open to questions and answers. The role of experts is to show amateurs how to observe, interpret and describe specimens in situ and on the table. The responsibility of biomaticians (biologists and informaticians) is to store and share experts’ interpretations of their observation, i.e. know-how rather than knowledge in sign bases with multimedia annotations for helping experts to define terms, model their domain, and allow end-users to describe and identify correctly the objects. Figure 1 illustrates where the LL is playing its intermediation role between producers (experts), editors (biormaticians) and users (tourists and amateurs). This figure comes from here:

Figure 1. Sign management for coral objects’ interpretations

As computer scientists and knowledge engineers, we want to design a new Iterative Sign Base System (ISBS) that will be the kernel of our Information Service for defining ontologies and terms, describing specimens, classifying them with machine learning techniques, and identifying the name through a multimedia interactive questionnaire. The objective of such a tool is to become an instrument in users’ hands for monitoring biodiversity in the fields, i.e. the National Park of Reunion Island.

For achieving this, we stressed on the importance of reducing the gap between interpretations of teachers (specialists) and learners (amateurs) to get the right identification name and then access to information in databases. This pedagogical effort must concretise itself on a Co-Design or Creativity Platform, which is the LL meeting place for teachers, players and learners, and where these people can manipulate the objects under study, test the proposed e-services and be guided by experts’ advices. The teacher is a producer who communicates his skilled interpretation of an activity at different levels of perception: psychological motivation, training action, and reasoning feedback. The players are designers-developers editors that produce multimedia contents of the expert tasks to perform a good result and index them in a sign base. The learners are prosumers (producers and consumers) who experiment the sign bases on the physical or virtual Co-Design Platform and tell about their use of the tool to domain experts, ergonomists and anthropologists, in order to improve the content and the functionalities of the mock-ups and prototypes.

This sign management process on a Creativity Platform is the unique characteristic of our UR.LL.TL that was explained more precisely in a position paper at the first summer school of LLs [Conruyt, 2010].


In this scientific, technical and practical context, the e-co-bio-tourism LL instance is committed to co-design new multimedia e-services for managing biodiversity with (different kinds of) people [Conruyt et al, 2010]. This could be done in the frame of University (in situ Herbarium and Coral collections) and in the fields of the Reunion National Park (in vivo tropical forests). To illustrate the playing, we want to test immersive solutions that combine virtual worlds and augmented reality on interactive tablets for making serious games’ applications that iterate the process of Teaching-Playing-Learning. This project is called Wisdom for “Wide Immersive Solution for Data Object Model”. It follows another project called e-Campus [Sébastien et al., 2008] whose aim was to adapt a MMORPG’s technology from a private company to a virtual ballad in the campus of University of Reunion Island.

Right Interpretations of objects are the most difficult signs to capture in order to perform an action properly. Let me define what is the sign in our sign management method that brings the subjective people at the centre of our Co-Design Platform, and give our LL a unique characteristic:

Figure 2. What is a Sign?

A Sign (Figure 2) is the interpretation of an object by a subject at a given time and place, which takes into account its form (Information), its contents (Data, facts, events, objects) and its meaning (Knowledge). The difficulty resides in biology for identifying correctly a specimen, but also in music for playing a score nicely, or in dancing for moving the body harmoniously, or in cooking to perform a recipe with savour. Sign management emphasizes the fundamental role of the subject in the design process of building an e-service. Making good interpretations is a matter of understanding the instructions that are behind the perception of stimuli with our senses, sight, hearing, touch, taste, smell, i.e. what makes the know-how of specialists understandable and reproducible.

For arts and culture, the most basic thing to do is to practice the activity by being guided by professionals, because we can only master what we do! For example in music, practising an instrument is 90% of transpiration and only 10% of inspiration. In this domain, the motivation of people is to play an instrument nicely, produce a beautiful sound for pleasure, and make a lovely performance that can be appreciated both from them and other listeners. Some famous interpreters are examples that people would like to copy. As for the conservation of specimens in museums, we have scores in libraries. But these pieces are dead objects. Our idea is to bring them alive with the enhancement of right interpretations from specialists of such biological and musical pieces.

More generally, the e-Teach-Play-Learn activity is the kernel of our LL vision, which wants to enhance natural, artistic and cultural regional heritage by managing signs that produce the right interpretations. In instrumental music, these signs are gestures that produce the right and beautiful sound in accordance with the four elements of music: melody, rhythm, harmony and dynamics of the score. In Systematics biology, the signs are the hints and glances of specialists who gain their observational experience in the fields, and use this tacit knowledge for becoming identification experts.

Our idea is to improve the quality of services in these domains, for example classification or identification help for biodiversity management or instrumental e-Learning for music playing. The overall concept spanning both domains relates to professional education and pedagogy enhancement, in order to improve the Teaching and Learning of citizens for mastering a science or an art.


4. Organisation


The core of the organisation of our UR.LL.TL is based on local and individual actors (researchers, entrepreneurs, lead-users) that want to engage themselves in transversal projects in a dedicated domain. The structure of our LL is agile and based on the possibility to finance project managers and engineers for enhancing research domains of our university with e-services. The funds for such projects are coming from the European Union (60%), the Regional Council of Reunion Island (20%) and the French National Government (20%). Indeed, we are still objective n°1 of the European Union for the development of our economy. Our projects are organised based on a soccer team model with different roles played by university actors on a Co-Design Platform (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Team actors for making e-services on a Co-Design Platform


The governance of our projects is trans disciplinary. It results from the desire of community members to collaborate at two levels (i.e. individual and collective) on what we call a Creativity or Co-Design Platform. Indeed, the ultimate quality of the product/service resides in the relationship the object has intimately with the subject through tool mediation, and also in the relationships within the participants of the community, that are co-developers of the e-service. To elucidate this, let us take a similar process from the world of athletics: in soccer, the objective is to win the championship, an objective which can not be envisioned without an experienced and united team for making a product/service. Each member (subject) of the team must effectively know how to play soccer (object). But this is not sufficient for scoring and winning matches. It is necessary to have a collective sense and group spirit (united team). Effectively, although assigned to different lines (attack, mid-field, defence) each player (user, engineer, economist, sociologist, etc.) must come to solicit the ball (to render service) from a partner in order to create scoring situations on the field (Creativity or Co-Design Platform).

Until now, it is the Mathematics and Computer Science Laboratory (LIM-IREMIA) that hosts these transversal projects under the responsibility of Noël Conruyt. He is Assistant Professor in Informatics at the LIM-IREMIA, Sciences and Technologies Faculty of Reunion Island University. He is also an engineer in agronomy and a classical guitar player. Thanks to his experience in the fields on Expert Systems in agriculture (plant pathology), he obtained a Ph.D. in Computer Science at INRIA, France. He is specialized in Machine Learning and Symbolic-Numeric Data Analysis applied to the Knowledge Management of specialists in Biology. His research interests lie in Knowledge Engineering and Human Computer Interaction with an emphasis on co-design and social aspects of computing. Noël Conruyt directed three theses in the frame of the IC-IHM team: one on an Iterative Knowledge Management System for building knowledge bases in environmental science with David Grosser, one on a know-how management process for instrumental e-Learning with Olivier Sébastien and one on immersive representation tools for managing biodiversity with Didier Sébastien. These persons will participate actively in the enhancement of LLs.


The first investigated domains were in Insular Tropical Environment and instrumental e-Learning. Other domains may be investigated, such as for Robots assistance or Energy saving, but it depends on lead-users’ involvement for driving such projects. Project directors are researchers who desire to draw an idea into a concept, and then design mock-ups and prototypes with the help of public funds dedicated to innovation with ICT. Project managers are entrepreneurs who are recruited for the time of the project with a team of engineers by the project owner, i.e. the university.

The first project called ETIC in Environmental management started in 2004 with a team of persons of different skills who wanted to enhance data and knowledge about insular tropical environment with ICT. This ETIC programme was then followed in 2008 by the NExTIC project, which was more focused on Biodiversity management, and stressing on interoperability of data through Web services modules. This project is still running at University of Reunion Island for managing data from the herbarium of T. Cadet with a dedicated team. The websites are not translated in English yet, because we work mostly locally with researchers as users for digitalizing the collections. Nevertheless, we have started an international collaboration in biodiversity informatics with European institutions that are in charge of specimen collections. On plants and corals, we are now involved in a Virtual Biodiversity Research Infrastructure called ViBRANT FP7 programme for helping taxonomists and amateurs to share their observations and descriptions of specimens. Our contribution will be to share know-how for classifying and identifying specimens in the fields with different types of users (researchers, managers, curators, amateurs). We hope to promote the LL approach in the community of Biodiversity Informatics!

In the domain of Instrumental e-Learning, we started in 2003 with the e-Guitare project. As classical guitarists ourselves, we know well about the lack of professors for teaching the guitar. So we had an idea of bringing a professor at home for learning music pieces. We co-designed the concept of karaoke for music scores with real musical sound on an off-line solution, a DVD-video to be played on the TV. Then we proposed a DVD-Rom on computer in 2005 because amateurs wanted to play in their bedroom, not in the lounge. We burnt 500 DVDs for testing the prototype and made a market study. A researcher from Sony CSL of Paris worked with us. But the proposed solution could not find a business model because the quality of our solution on DVD was too costly to produce, and we didn’t find a top-level artist to put the product on the US market. We went on by implicating the students of music schools and university in the design process. We derived in 2007 an on-line solution called FIGS that allows a bi-directional dialog between teachers and learners on the Web. Then in 2008, we tested a mixed off/on-line solution called e-Guitar Sonar. The iterative process continues as we can view it here.

We are writing now another project on the piano and on the guitar called V-@-Muse to mix both Virtual reality and multimedia Annotation of scores … This project is led by Olivier Sébastien with the help of a PhD student, his sister Véronique Sébastien. The key point of the philosophy of our LL is to enhance pragmatic actions by moving from the knowledge management research concept, based on textual objects and semantic web, to the sign management innovation concept, based on live subjects and semiotic web.

But the fact is that until 2010, we didn’t hear about the Living Lab approach. We designed our own method of defining e-services on a Co-Design Platform (Figure 4) [Sébastien et al., 2008]. As written before, decisions are taken in the frame of funded projects that define the vision, the objectives, the plan and the evaluation phases (domain building process). Decisions are also made by considering the usage side of the project: e-services are co-designed with end-users who have their own identities, activities, tasks and give meaning to the obtained results (appropriation process). To facilitate the decisions, the project managers are themselves practitioners of the domain. So they have an understanding of the solutions that they can design, deliver and experiment with their end-users. This methodology was applied in instrumental e-Learning with the e-Guitare project [Conruyt et al., 2010].

Figure 4. Domain and use objects interaction between design and usage approaches.


5. Openness


Our projects constitute the heart of our LL and its reason for living. Without projects, a LL is useless. Projects in our LL adopt an interdisciplinary, entrepreneurship and constructivist approach, combining experimentation and theory for enhancement of research. For example, the ETIC programme is structured according to 14 projects, founded on the meeting of producers (researchers, administrators and editors form the domain part) and end-users, which constitute the usage part (teachers, learners, amateurs). They meet on a Co-Design Platform to build together e-services that must constitute in fine the offer of the demand.

Enhancement projects are open and transversal with human resources because they apply the convergence of producing content with domain users (experts and end-users), editing it with IT designers (informatics, multimedia), and distributing the result on the Web (networks, communication). Enhancement of research is a well-defined objective for our university in the territorial context of Reunion Island: it is part of the global institution policy, and take into account socio-economical needs of partners.

Nevertheless, the enhancement activity is risky for researchers. Openness has some limitations from an individual research enhancement. Today, it is not well recognized by experts of our Evaluation Agency for Research and Higher education.

AERES focuses mainly on scientific production. Enhancement activities are secondary in their evaluation principles. But the fact is that managing such projects brings money for researchers: they can then participate to international conferences and communicate their results. Without these funding to send us on missions, we stay stuck on our little rock that is lost in the Indian Ocean!

Such projects must be seen as a return of investment for financing research activities. Communication is made by each project independently on the Web: ETIC, NExTIC, e-Guitare. The new LL project is not well communicated yet because it is not a funded project. The ENoLL label could greatly help us to instantiate the LL concept in a project called UR.LL.TL!

The idea of our LL is to attract project managers at university in order that they develop their ideas with us in a dedicated project. Project managers are architects of new e-services rather than software developers. They are accompanied by a team of engineers for making product and services with end-users. We have this opportunity to finance computer engineering because we can fetch FEDER funds. By doing so, our UR.LL keeps IPR under its control and can therefore redistribute them publicly under creative commons or GNU GPLv3 (copyleft). For example, IKBS is now an open source platform.

On public-private partnership, we made already a test in the frame of the e-Campus project for designing a MMORPG in the campus to access to information of Reunion Island University. But the experience of negotiating IPR with the partner in this project was not efficient for us. On one side, it takes too much time to define a licence contract of exploitation of the software for developing applications in dedicated areas that are not competitive markets with the company. On the other side, when the technology is proprietary, especially in video games, the life cycle of the software is very short. It is more interesting to capitalize know-how on open source solutions that can be reused freely when the project is finished.

We think that it is more effective to work with entrepreneurs inside our university, i.e. talented persons having ideas, because the philosophy of free and open innovation can be applied in the process of upstream design of applications and services. This principle is more in phase with the mission of public universities that must render services to citizens. The hint is to work with individuals rather than societies. When these talented persons develop a prototype that matches users needs, they can then beneficiate from the regional incubator of products and services outside the university.


6. Resources


Concretely, there is not a physical structure dedicated to such a LL for the moment at university. As it has been written above, projects are living around the different laboratories that are involved through their researchers. Indeed, LLs are living structures that link different laboratories together “in the clouds” for achieving a project. But it is expected that a laboratory may host such projects. It is why the LIM-IREMIA has been appointed for housing a meeting room dedicated to transversal projects named the Co-Design Platform.

In the context of research enhancement at university, the Co-Design Platform is a physical and virtual meeting and communication space for projects to be developed by both the offer side (from domain knowledge) and the request side (from user's needs). All the following players develop Internet products and applications with end-users in these projects: content producers (researchers), packaging editors (designers and programmers) and distributors (operators) of the final e-service. This is both a multimedia platform similar to those that are met in film and broadcasting industry (TV-Net style), but also an experimentation area for making focus groups, answer to questionnaires and interviews (Figure 5). Indeed, projects are developed from a well-focused objective (the asked question and the tasks to solve), and with the help of users in order that the new products match the most directly the awaited uses of the projected services.

The new fundamental element of our UR.LL.TL is to apply a user-centred Sign management methodology for Teaching and Learning that uses the Co-Design Platform for Playing with new e-services (mock-ups, prototypes) at University. By defining Sign management, we want to stress the importance of interpretations of subjects that can only be shown by multimedia contents (e.g., see the gesture that produces the right sound, look at this part of the specimen under the binocular) on a vehicle (on/off line). Going from the idea to the e-service needs a Creativity Platform for making multimedia objects, then index them to the text (score, description), and a processing method to evaluate the usefulness of the e-service (focus groups, interviews, semi-qualitative questionnaire).


 Figure 5. Co-designing e-services with end-users on a Creativity Platform


With digital natives now attending university, managers of public service institutions need new paradigms and approaches to improve quality and effectiveness of Teaching and Learning through Information and Communication Technologies. To this end, the University of Reunion Island has engaged itself with immersive technologies such as multimedia 3D, HDTV, Virtual Worlds and Augmented Reality in order to build e-services through co-creative methods aiming at adapting tools and applications to desires of its learners and professors. For example, The Mathematics and Computer Science Laboratory (LIM-IREMIA) supports projects for designing and enhancing natural (ETIC, NExTIC), educational (e-Campus) and cultural patrimony (e-Guitare). The Engineering School (ESIROI-STIM) is committed with producing, editing and distributing contents through technologies and services on the Web. The Information and Communication Laboratory (LCF) is specialized in analysing social uses of such tools and applications, and the Department of Digital Uses (SUN) responds to practical needs of university end-users for making and using online courses. The aim of the University of Reunion Island Living Lab (UR.LL) for Teaching and Learning is to impulse a new open, constructive and transversal way of thinking and making e-Research and e-Learning activities. It brings a virtual and physical meeting place for researchers and entrepreneurs, the Creativity Platform, to co-design e-services based on new immersive technologies with university end-users.


7. Users and Reality


Users are involved in projects of our LL because they want to design e-services that can be useful for them! If not, they don’t come. Who are our users? They are lead-users that want to enhance their domain of predilection. They are passionate persons that are motivated by the issue to render a service, rather than to serve themselves with public funds. For example on biodiversity management, naturalists share some ethical principles in accordance with open innovation and gift economy. They also want to invest in sustainable e-services with people. But realism and pragmatism must be part of the projects. Projects must be attractive for lead-users, and then competitive for end-users. Attractiveness is given by the fact that lead-users participate to the design of new e-services and so, perform themselves LL activities. This phase is an upstream enhancement of experts’ good practices that are shared with different types of players (producers, editors, operators).

By realism, we experienced the importance to finance a content engineer during the project, because experts are researchers that cannot invest a lot of time for designing e-services. That was the case for the NExTIC project where we had to design an interoperable information service for managing the herbarium collection of university. The realism of engaging a content engineer with other software engineers is fair-fair before being win-win. Botanists of the university now acclaim the result shown in the Web site. The process must now go on with other types of users (biodiversity managers, technicians and amateurs) in the National Park of Reunion Island.

By pragmatism, we signify the importance of the experimentation process of the e-service on a Co-Design Platform. On one side, researchers who deliver their data authenticate the scientific value of the information given, but on the other side, will the service be really used by amateurs in the fields is a matter of recruiting usage engineers such as anthropologists or community managers … This sign engineer has to measure the motivation of end-users to really use the tool in order that it becomes an instrument. We use a constructive methodology based on biosemiotics [Uexküll, 1926] [Barbieri, 2007], activity theory [Engeström, 1987] [Rabardel, 1995] [Nardi, 1996] and semiotics [Peirce, 1965] to create concepts from ideas, then prototypes from mock-ups [Conruyt, 2010]. IKBS is also used for making customer knowledge management [Sébastien et al., 2008].


8. Value


There are different types of LL actors as can be seen in Figure 3. These actors are not spectators of the project and are engaged actively in the design of e-services as players. The methodology of e-service co-design on a Creativity Platform is oriented towards the discovery of solutions and necessitates a trans disciplinary teamwork. Initiative and creativity are the motivations (“know-be”). Initiative is born from the rupture with established systems, and creativity is a result of an innovative system, which ends up with results that were not necessarily expected. This state of mind is above all a question of imagination (attitude) and dedication (behaviour) of the participants of a project that assemble its components in a structured manner for a determined use.

A resource centre can also characterize the LL. It houses projects directed by lead-users, i.e. researchers, and managed by coaches (project architects). It is like an atrium (may be some day an agora or stadium as in collective sports) where people can participate in the elaboration of e-services by playing an active role in the design or the usage approach. It is also important that the LL be a physical place where people can play. This will be the case in our Teaching and Learning projects with a meeting room dedicated to experimentations of mock-ups and prototypes. For the moment, it is an Integrated Learning and Certification Space that is part of the SUN Department of Digital Uses [Sébastien & Rakotobe, 2011].

Assets and values that are collaboratively generated are “the offers of the demands”, i.e. real instruments in the hand of their users. It is the case for the information service to manage data of the university herbarium that corresponds to botanists’ expectations since a long time and who are now proud of showing it. It is also the case for IKBS that is a biological instrument for helping taxonomists to classify and naturalists to identify specimens on the Web. In music, the process of prototyping is going on with the Muse project. But it is clear that without collective intelligence, such projects would be dead ends. As we can see in Figure 4, the objective of the LL constructive method on a Creativity Platform is to acquire trust for end-users and skills for designers.

Our LL supports the co-design of the upstream enhancement of a product/service, from imagination of researchers to prototyping with lead-users. The Regional incubator of Reunion Island is leading the downstream enhancement from prototypes to products/services with another Sébastien (Nicolas) at its head. Thus, the chain of e-services production can go from ideation to market. IKBS and e-Guitare tried this way for creating a company with the help of the incubator. But the project manager of IKBS was an Assistant Professor (David Grosser) at university and preferred to deliver the software in open source rather than fighting for IPR. For e-Guitare, the market is not ready (heavy downloads of pieces on the Web, see here) and the cost of producing DVDs is too high relatively to the number of possible sales. We are too early on the market, so we will go further on research with the Muse project.


9. Direction and Plans for the Future


I did not mention sufficiently the role of the usage engineer in our enhancement process of research. The role of this player is fundamental in the new Web x.0 era for designing e-services. We think that Semiotic Web is the future of Semantic Web because it puts the Subject at the heart of the Creativity Platform rather than the Object. It delivers a message that for making products and services on the Web, “everything is a Sign, rather that everything is a Thing”!

Concretely for example in the NExTIC project, we are well aware that for delivering interoperable data on the Web, we must take care of persons who are the transmitters of these data. Without motivated individuals, we will not “open the data”! So, we developed a special evaluation module for botanists that keeps the data that they store in database under their control until they decide themselves to deliver information to other persons. These considerations are strategic because the objective is to understand the real needs of end-users, which are primarily of psychological nature.

In this context, the usage engineer is not only a cognitician or a knowledge engineer. He is a sign engineer that must put himself in the targeted user’s shoes. In the same idea that “Classification of objects” is a matter of Class construction that targets the machine learning process of computers, “Signification of subjects” is the substance of Sign construction that targets the human understanding process of individuals. And Signification is a process that we believe to be more crucial than Classification in the new era of Web x.0. We think that ENoLL, by bringing the open innovation process to people with a user-centred design approach goes in the right direction. Our UR.LL.TL aims to put the LL societal concept of ENoLL at the finer level of human beings by taking into account the psychological dimension of individuals for the design of e-services. In this dimension, Biosemiotics and Activity Theory are the scientific disciplines that can help us to tackle this signification objective to understand. On technical and practical aspects, the usage engineer is the intermediate between design and use of subjects’ objects. His role is to communicate to the team the significations of human thoughts (attitudes) and behaviours (actions). This is why we want to involve more closely the LCF laboratory in our design process for analysing the use of objects from a subjective perspective (Semiotics).

In the future for a sustainable development of our society, the growing process of LLs needs to cultivate a cultural biodiversity of skills. Our institutions should promote the implication of motivated lead-users (researchers, managers, end-users) and accompany them in their attempt to push usage innovation in the front of the scene. Technological innovation is necessary but not sufficient for driving innovation in the new Web x.0 era.



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Noel Conruyt,
Apr 4, 2011, 9:02 AM