Internet Forums and the Rise of the Inventive Energy User

Hyysalo, S., Juntunen, J. K., & Freeman, S. (2013). Internet forums and the rise of the inventive energy user.Science & Technology Studies,26(1), 25-51.

Hyysalo et al. (2013) studied how user-run Internet forums help dispersed and heterogeneous users to create a specific kind of learning space that helps some users to become more inventive. Their research on heat pumps revealed over a hundred inventions by citizen users in Finland alone even though the technology in heat pumps is complicated to modify. Users overcame those hindraces with sufficient peer-to-peer support. Hyysalo et al. (2013) write that user-run Internet forums play a major role also in transfer and learning of thematic knowledge, identifying and verifying points of improvement, accessing relevant services, parts and tools, boosting motivation, as well as in the spreading of user inventions among peers.

In these forums users are troubleshooting and comparing different technology models. Forums act as an information infrastructure that offers alternative sources of knowledge filling the information gaps that suppliers and resellers dont provide. Researchers argue that through these forums inventinve users grow to have the capacities and special needs/wants that drive them towards invetions.

To set up and facilitate these technology-related forums researchers suggest several aspects. Forums should be segmented into separate sections including own section for provocative and speculative exhanges. Moderation should be active but tolerant which refers discussions to appropiate areas. Private messaging and anonymous presence should be allowed which makes possible for different professionals to engage in projects and speculations without reputatien loss.


For me it was totally new idea to use and facilitate user-forums to generate better solutions and designs. For me it all makes sense sense because by nature lots of users like to invent new solutions. I think these forums provide a beneficial way to gather user-feedback and new ideas. Although I find it quite difficult to set up a new forum and gather a society to start to use it. Hyysalo was presenting these results 28.5.2014 in seminar Shaping the future with human-driven design. Presentation was easy to follow and it was nice to see how user communities were able to invent so many new ways to use heat pumps.

– Olli T.

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