Eclectic Curiosity

Posted on February 17th, 2003, by Steve Hardy in Archives, Uncategorized. No Comments

Z+ blog posted about an MIT Technology Review essay by Nicholas Negroponte called Creating a Culture of Ideas. Although I’m too cheap to read this “premium content” piece, here are some good quotes from the site. Sounds good.


Innovation is inefficient. More often than not, it is undisciplined, contrarian, and iconoclastic; and it nourishes itself with confusion and contradiction. In short, being innovative flies in the face of what almost all parents want for their children, most CEOs want for their companies, and heads of states want for their countries. And innovative people are a pain in the ass. Yet without innovation we are doomed—by boredom and monotony—to decline. So what makes innovation happen, and just where do new ideas come from? The basic answers—providing a good educational system, encouraging different viewpoints, and fostering collaboration—may not be surprising. Moreover, the ability to fulfill these criteria has served the United States well. But some things—the nature of higher education among them—will have to change in order to ensure a perpetual source of new ideas.

One of the basics of a good system of innovation is diversity. In some ways, the stronger the culture (national, institutional, generational, or other), the less likely it is to harbor innovative thinking. Common and deep-seated beliefs, widespread norms, and behavior and performance standards are enemies of new ideas. Any society that prides itself on being harmonious and homogeneous is very unlikely to catalyze idiosyncratic thinking. Suppression of innovation need not be overt. It can be simply a matter of people’s walking around in tacit agreement and full comfort with the status quo.

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