Is there a future for innovation ?

creativityHave you noticed how tech savvy children have become but are no longer streetwise ? I read Jaisundar’s thoughts on his own site last week and there was a slight pang of regret in where technology and innovation seems to be leading us all.

It was around the time I was trying to figure if I should get myself an iPad or a HP Netbook, so I asked my friend – seeing that he had both – what he thought was the right pick.

Friend: Ask him (pointing to the 11 year old) he’s addicted to both devices. And has some views on what’s better.

Me: So, which one is better, Friend’s Son?

11-year-old kid: What are your requirements?

Me: (Silence. Jaw drops. Trying to fathom the significance of that question).

And I started to worry about where the concept of innovation is going for future generations. There’s an increasing reliance on technology for the sake of convenience, children are becoming self-reliant too quickly but gadgets are replacing people as the mentor. The human bonding of parenthood is a prime example of where it’s taking a toll. I’ve seen parents hand over iDevices to pacify a child numerous times now, the lullaby and bedtime reading session has been replaced with Cut The Rope and automated storybooks apps. I know a child who has developed speech difficulty because he’s been brought up on cable TV and a DS Lite, pronouncing words as he has heard them from a tiny speaker and not by watching how his parents pronounce them.

Concept of innovation

And I started to worry about how the concept of innovation is being redefined for future generations. I used my imagination constantly as a child and it’s still as active now as it was then but I didn’t use technology to spoon feed me. The next generation expect innovation to happen at their fingertips with little to no real stimuli.

Steve Jobs said “stay hungry, stay foolish” and he was right. Innovation comes from a keenness, it’s a starvation and hunger that drives people forward to spark and create, it comes from grabbing what little there is from the ether and turning it into something spectacular. It’s the Big Bang of human creation.

And I started to worry about what the concept of innovation means for future generations. Technology is taking away the power to think for ourselves and from our children. Everything must be there and in real-time for instant consumption. It’s junk food for the mind and we’re getting fat on it. And that breeds lazy innovation. We’ve become satiated before we reach the point of real creativity, nobody wants to bother taking the time to put it all together themselves any more, it has to be ready for us. And we’re happy to throw it away if it doesn’t work first time, use it or lose it, there’s less sweat and toil involved if we don’t persevere with failure.

Remember seeing the human race depicted in Wall-E ? That’s where innovation is heading.

And because of this we risk so many things disappearing for the sake of convenience. We’re all guilty of it, I’m guilty of it. I was asked once what would become absurd in ten years. Thinking about it I realized we’re on the cusp of putting books on the endangered species list. Real books, books bound in hard and paperback not digital copies from a Kindle store. And that scared me because the next generation of kids may grow up never seeing one, or experience sitting with their father as he reads an old battered copy of The Hobbit because he’ll be sitting there handing over an iPad with The Hobbit read-along app teed up, and it’ll be an actors voice not his father’s voice pretending to be a bunch of trolls about to eat a company of dwarfs.

Innovation is a magical, crazy concept. It stems from a combination of crazy imagination, human interaction and creativity not convenient manufacture. Technology can aid collaboration in ways we’ve never experienced before but it can’t run crazy for us. And for the sake of future generations don’t let it.

Here’s to the crazy ones indeed.

(this post was brought to you by the power of my crazy imagination and the creativity of Clare Jeeves)


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Categories: Disruption, Innovation, Inspiration, Startups

Author:Theo Priestley

"I had more creative ideas from Theo in 6 months than I have had in 6 years from most people." Theo Priestley is one of the most recognised independent technology industry influencers and evangelists, ranking in the Top 100 thought leaders across Virtual/ Augmented Reality, FinTech, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things and future trends. Theo has written insights for Forbes, Wired, The European Magazine, Venturebeat to name a few, and has been interviewed for many online publications including the BBC on his thoughts on technology and the future. A regular paid keynote speaker and panelist at conferences and events, Theo is engaged for his forthright views and isn't afraid to challenge conventional thinking and the marketing hype surrounding the industry when presenting, never pulling punches to get the message across on how technology can be applied to improve business and the customer experience. He has also successfully organised and run TEDx and Ignite events. Highly active across social networks, he sits in the Top 1% for social media engagement on Kred and Klout and is constantly sharing articles and his analysis that he feels his audience would be interested in. Theo is also active in the startup community, mentoring within UK and US accelerators and sits on a number of advisory boards. Former VP and Chief Technology Evangelist at a Top 25 European enterprise software company with a career spanning both innovation strategy and delivery of software and business change in Financial Services, and as an independent technology industry analyst. Follow Theo on Twitter @tprstly or connect here directly for constant insights on tech and marketing trends. • Top 1% Influencer on Kred (915) • Top 1% Influencer on Klout (70+) • 12,000+ Followers on LinkedIn • 13,000+ Followers on Twitter • Recognised Top Influencer in AI, Virtual/ Augmented Reality, Fintech, IOT and Wearable Tech, Big Data and Analytics.

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2 Comments on “Is there a future for innovation ?”

  1. January 30, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    You are mistaken in your fundamental premise that innovation is a concept. Innovation is no more a concept then creativity,imagination or wisdom. Innovation is a choice born of our Imagination refusing to settle for the status quo. Lamenting the use and application of technology in millions of lives does little to illuminate what fosters the choice to be innovative. The real killer of innovation is the worship of the status quo: be it the status quo of the past, i.e. books or the status quo of the present, i.e. electronic tablets and gizmos. What feeds innovation is an imaginative curiosity that is in search of the “what else”. A desire to explore the Unknown. Easy access to information and entertainment has never killed the imagination. Absolute assumptions about how the world and it’s people squelches Imagination and stifles Curiosity. It is the unwillingness to settle that is the powerful driver of innovation and invention.


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