Innovation: Dead in the Water or a Phoenix Rising?
So most of you are aware that I'm the greatest teacher ever (when I'm not feeling grouchy or tired from pub night or claustrophobic or hoarse from too much coaching or irked by teens and their cell-phones) and my great skill is that I consume a lot of media-- print, audio, and visual-- and just barely understand it, but my subconscious does a good job of making connections, which I only half-comprehend-- and because I have no problem not fully understanding things, I'm willing to present these loosely connected things to my classes, which are full of smart kids, and let them sort it out; I am trying to get them to understand how much style and rhetoric influence an argument (and I am all style and rhetoric, with very little content) and I recently stumbled upon two pieces on innovation that are almost humorous to consume one after another-- though their content is similar, they generate completely opposite tones; the first is a dire piece by Michael Hanlon in Aeon called "Why Has Human Progress Ground to a Halt" and it makes an excellent historical and global argument for why our best days of invention may be behind us (specifically: 1945-1971) and the second is an inspirational gem from Planet Money called "The Story of Ali Baba,"-- the piece offers two success stories of innovation, and in both, the innovators use the Chinese commerce marketplace Ali Baba to directly buy parts that individual inventors have never had access to before . . . ex-Wired editor Chris Anderson ends up opening a drone-building company and Shawn Hector and Steve Deutsch built an automated chicken coop . . . so you be the judge, humans are either treading water waiting for the flood, or living in the most convenient time to innovate in human history.