Hyysalo, Juntunen & Freeman: Internet Forums and the Rise of the Inventive Energy User

  • Sampsa Hyysalo
  • Jouni K. Juntunen
  • Stephanie Freeman

Abstract

While climate and energy policy voice concerns about citizen’s lack of improving their houses and heating systems, some citizens by far exceed the expectations. Our research on heat pumps revealed over a hundred inventions by citizen users in Finland alone, despite the technology being in many respects uninviting to modify. Users’ capacity to carry out these modifications owes much to their exchanges at userrun Internet forums, a new and proliferating type of setting. These online forums help otherwise dispersed and heterogeneous users to create a specific kind of learning space that helps some users to “grow inventive” even as the majority of users therein remain indifferent towards their specific projects. These findings open a discussion on how the actions of typically a small group of inventive users are embedded in and supported by the activities of a broader user base.