Progress and Innovation: Deep Thoughts

In my line of work, I tend to hear a lot of doomsday prophecies about the declining literacy skills of today’s youth. “It’s all that technology,” people complain. So it’s refreshing to see the bigger picture here over at Wired.com.

It seems to me that people tend to be blind to the technologies they’re familiar with (pencils, telephones, and cars) and resistant to the new ones they haven’t yet experienced (blogs, YouTube, and Second Life). It makes sense to me that change is frightening—change signifies the constant flux and flow of life. But what doesn’t make sense to me is how people can accept certain changes and criticize the next wave of changes as inferior, insufficient, or deficient.

That’s why I love Wired’s list today; it’s not about judgment or critique. It’s about highlighting the key discoveries, inventions, and ideas that have made each successive innovation possible. Penicillin? We wouldn’t be sitting here today without it.

What would happen if we all embraced a framework of productive possibility and creative exploration? Instead of becoming mired in the old ways of doing things, we could explore how new innovations open new paths for us.

Can you imagine the group of cavedwellers who resisted fire?

Resistant Ones: Harrumph, I’m not going to touch that newfangled thing.

Early Adopters: Well, I wouldn’t touch it, but it sure keeps us warm at night. And look! We can cook our food and eat more meat.

Resistant Ones: Yeah, well we’ve never done it that way before. We’ve always been cold and that’s worked just fine. What’s going to be next?? Counting?! Kids these days.

And so the Resistant Ones gathered around their measly pile of berries and raw organ meat.

Safe to say, we know what happened to them.

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2 Responses to Progress and Innovation: Deep Thoughts

  1. kmiddleton says:

    Ha! Don’t you imagine that the Resistant Ones also did a lot of grousing about the ways in which the “new generation” who were brought up with fire–let’s call them “fire natives”–had short attention spans and were unable to work with uncooked meat at all?

  2. housegirrl says:

    Totally! They probably also mentioned something about the “creeping inability” to properly digest rocks, twigs, and grubs.

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