The future of innovation surely includes the effects of a couple of phenomena that are forcing upon us many new ideas, new challenges, and consequently, new and as yet unidentified innovations that will have far reaching and long standing impact. This essay focuses on social networking and developing a sustainable environment as the basis for future innovation.
The last several presidential elections in the United States have begun to show the power of many…many people linked electronically, contributing relatively small sums of money to the candidate of choice, on a repeated basis. Leveraging social networking technology, tools, and techniques, candidates have begun to master the skills necessary to accelerate change. Imagine if this concept was morphed into real time voting through the US congress, on issues and laws. Instead of politicians being ‘elected’ to represent us, and then free to vote according to their own interests, they instead become ‘elected’ to vote the way the ‘instant’ majority tells them to – in real time, while they are in their seat in Congress. The populace – at least those engaged actively - could both read important papers, and view (and possibly even participate in) the debate on the floor of the house or the senate regardless of location and time, and then vote. The nature of politics would change as our politicians would no longer be in control of how they vote…the innovation is the process by which we vote – adapting social networking protocols, combining them with reality television, et voila – we would have a political system that would become much more compelling and influential. The technology is there…it is our collective will that must come together to give us a greater voice in our system…not just an occasional, third or fourth party one. Consider how many other ways our lives are being and will continue to be altered as a result of social networking.
The second area of interest comes from an exploration of issues related to sustainability and our environment which must come together in a way that encourages us – as stewards of the planet – to develop a healthier, more sustainable way of life. Anyone who travels to an underdeveloped or developing nation will find pollution – particularly in larger urban areas – as a major issue. In Beijing, you count blue sky days, and when you have one, it defines your trip. Other cites have clans of people living off of the refuse in landfills. At some point, communities will begin to develop the will to use renewable energy resources, and to learn to treat life as something to value – in all forms – or to face imminent decay in the overall quality of life. Communities – including governments and corporations – will ultimately come together adopting policies, processes, and practices in support of and continuously healthier and more sustainable life styles.
Are these ideas necessarily innovative? Certainly not! But within these phenomena lie the technologies, processes, and societal innovations that will lead to real change, and new ways of doing things.