Monday, January 14, 2008

Tension between Culture and Innovation

The dance of life is a peculiar thing. I stumbled upon the Google GMail blog today which led me to an extraordinary blog where I am many months behind on learning about.

A grandmother at 95 years old was given a blog by her nephew who continues to transcribe her blog for her. You can read a summar about this in a news article here. Other than the fact that this is a compelling example of how the perspective of one's life can become transparent on the web and inspire many people, it also says a lot about our grandparents' generation.

If we are to look at our own grandparents, we would find that it is true that life is a fleeting thing. One day, you wake up and you are old with many memories and young people are not always interested in hearing what you have to say about the 1920s or 1930s because it's not the "in" thing. To know of a story where the "now" and the "then" converged is really something.

There's a gap between innovation and preserving traditions and culture. I spoke with my fiance yesterday about holograms after we saw The Illusionist and he was trying to think of a way to create a new disruptive technology. We also talked a bit about the evolving internet and how it was the start of a disruptive technology that has changed our lives. It's a long way from our grandparents generation, that's for sure.

Across sectors, there have been a number of disruptive technologies. In my mind, some of these would be: blogging changes media and web 2.0 software changes the fact that we no longer have to download software onto our hard drives; the Nintendo Wii broke the couch potato paradigm; internet search changed the way we viewed information and wikis changed collaboration behavior on the internet.

It could be that I am jaded, but I do feel like there is less focus nowadays on enriching the culture that we live in and making meaning out of life experiences. There is a lot of thought put into work culture and innovation and while not a negative thing, it certainly puts the current millennium and history into perspective, say when we are 95 and looking back at our lives.

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