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Exploring the weak signals of starts-ups as a folksonomic system

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This article looks at the opportunities for innovation and entrepreneurship provided by the swift technological change in the field of information technologies: the so-called Web 2.0. It focuses on how it could be possible to analyse emerging trends from actor's strategies toward the future. The main research question is to understand how early signals of new trends appear in a field which is not formally stabilised. We looked at the spontaneously produced categorisations (folksonomy) of 250 start-ups. This corpus is analysed in order to explore how these descriptions identify key future evolutions and how these categorisations of future trends change over time. Our central hypothesis is to consider that early elements of future changes (weak signals) are not given once and for all, but exist within perpetual shifting processes and could be tracked with folksonomic maps. The discussion of the results will suggest that weak signals should not be conceptualised as static entities blessed with some strange power to shape the future but as a set of components, whose main features are their abilities to be constantly rearranged among themselves by the involved actors.
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Keywords: Web 2.0; folksonomy; future trends; user driven categorisation; weak signals

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Observatory of Science, Policy and Society, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Publication date: 2009-04-01

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