Between 1860 and 1900, inventors created the telephone, phonograph, moving pictures and air transportation. Thomas Edison tested the first practical lightbulb, Karl Benz built a workable internal combustion engine and David Edward Hughes transmitted the first wireless signal – and they did it during just one three-month period in 1879. The result was a golden age of economic growth from about 1900 through the 1960s, with a broad-based rise in incomes across the industrialized world.
Do you know anyone who is never-ending fountain of new ideas? I have known, enjoyed and been worn out by a few of them. The same is true of US President Franklin Roosevelt. He delivered one of the greatest backhand compliments in history when we said of British Prime Minster Churchill, his friend and fellow wartime leader, “Winston has fifty ideas a day, and one or two of them are rather good.”
We need these people to stretch the boundaries of what is possible. We also need to respect the many ways in which those boundaries can come snapping back on us. In our book, Brain Gain: How Innovative Cities Create Jobs in an Age of Disruption, my colleagues and I wrote about the disruptive educational innovation known as the massively open online course or MOOC. The vision is truly revolutionary: instead of attending a high-priced university, you take courses online from all of the great universities at a fraction of the cost. Three privately-funded MOOC companies were launched in the US in 2012, and universities around the world quickly followed with their own course offerings.Read more
There is an intellectual eruption taking place in a tiny corner of the New York publishing world that is a microcosm of the big battle underway for the hearts and minds of people in cities worldwide. As behemoths slide into being with trending names like “Broadband Economy,” “Singularity” and “Gigabit City” to take hold of the economy, our imagination, and then push with increasingly uncomfortable force against the personal destinies of larger and larger numbers of people, places and leaders, the impact of two decades of digital life are being felt. Some call it “disruption” and, having named it think they’ve tamed it and take a seat at the next clichéd seminar. But the words “disoriented and dispossessed” seem more accurate ways to describe what a generation of “smart” risks leaving us with if we are not mindful.Read more