15 June 2011

Social Invention

In the 1700s and 1800s, technological innovations "just happened." Then in the 1900s, R&D labs within the military, universities, and corporations made technological innovation a regular occurrence. Technological inventions were both expected and managed. You may like your iPhone4 but you know that an iPhone5 will eventually debut. There is no expectation that any one piece of technology is the ultimate.

This century will be to social invention what the last century was to technological invention. It will become something we expect, whether through charter schools or new ways of managing employees or through new government agencies or even through the NGOs and foundations that have recently grown in number and impact.

More and more people are creating new kinds of banks and corporations, schools and governments. Soon, people will realize that this is the new process of society, not a one-time act. It will dawn on us in the same way that it finally dawned on Henry Ford that for all its genius, the Model T was not the final say in cars.

That, it seems to me, is worth thinking about.

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