Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mid-Level Innovation

The New York Times has a good piece this morning about Amar Bhidé’s new book, The Venturesome Economy. His main argument is that the innovation that creates economic value comes not from basic research but from creative business applications. Those of us in innovation studies should think less about quantum dots and academic labs and more about Wal-Mart's brilliant logistics.
The piece is good because it also points out a key problem with this presentation:
The flaw in Mr. Bhidé’s thesis is that it amounts to a “false choice,” said Robert D. Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a nonpartisan research group. Most of the economic gains from technology, Mr. Atkinson agrees, do come from its innovative use. “But that doesn’t mean that the basic research is not critical,” he said.
But my favorite quote is from Bhidé, who says value really comes from “all the various forms of knowledge generated by the massively multiplayer innovations game that sustains economic growth.”

This puts the question back where it belongs: not with an either-basic - or-applied question, but with the kinds of institutions that link them together in ways that are effective because they really do pool the multiple players by treating the players equitably.

BTW, for a good overview of the Obama campaign's use of their massively multiplayer online environment, listen to this "To the Point" episode (featuring Thomas Gensemer of Blue State Digital and John Palfrey, author of Born Digital, among others).

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again and looking forward for your post on making more. This looks like a great resource. I'm very interesting to read your blog. Thanks for posting this google 0 gravity underwater