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It’s a fairly gloomy week on the world economic stage, with International Monetary Fund managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn declaring a number of leading economies in depression and U.S. President Obama warning of the possibility of financial catastrophe if a stimulus bill is not passed. As an antidote to the gloom, here are two more optimistic takes on the state of the economy — both on the future of innovation:
Michael Schrage, a research fellow at the MIT Center for Digital Business, wrote in the Financial Times last week that “global financial markets are in disarray but prospects for innovation in the real economy have never been more robust.”
Schrage’s reasoning? He sees great potential for interoperability among technologies. (Schrage has authored or coauthored several articles for MIT Sloan Management Review: “The Innovation Subsidy”, “The Myth of Commoditization” and, most recently, “How Boards Can Be Better — A Manifesto.” )
Meanwhile, Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, recently urged readers of his column at Forbes.com to “follow the excitement” to find innovation — by looking for areas where people are passionate about solving a problem, even before businesspeople spot ways to make money from a solution.
He sees such “alpha-geek innovation” happening in arenas ranging from open-source hardware and robotics to investigative journalism. “The people inventing the future, ” O’Reilly concludes, “are doing so just because it’s fun.”