Friday Thread: How to thrive in a world where change is constant…

A few years back I got asked to judge in a fun version of the Dragons Den as part of Microsoft’s Imagine Cup at the Science Gallery in Dublin. It was pitched largely at students in the Regional Technology Colleges right across the Republic, from Letterkenny and Sligo to Waterford and Cork.

It’s the nearest I’ve seen that matches what MIT Media Lab head Joi Ito is calling for in the TED talk above, which is to start utilising the cheap means to innovate new solutions to abiding problems.

…this is a fundamental new way of thinking about innovation it’s a bottom-up innovation, its democratic, it’s chaotic, it’s hard to control, it’s not bad but it’s very different.

I think that the traditional rules that we have for institutions don’t work anymore. Education is what people do to you, learning is what you do to yourself. It feels like they’re trying to make you memorize the whole encyclopedia before they let you go out and play.

I’ve got the Wikipedia on my cell phone. But it feels like they assume you gonna be on top of a mountain all by yourself with a number two pencil trying to figure out what to do, when in fact you’re always going to be connected you’re always going to have friends and you can pull the Wikipedia whenever you need it and what you need to learn.

As Ito notes, in order for that to start working, we need to be Now-ists as much as futurists, or captives of the past.

Do we have it in us?


  • Jag

    Mick, you might consider a thread on the “change is constant” decline of the print press media. Figs out from ABC yesterday.

    Position for Norn Iron is (average daily paid circulation in Jan-Jun 2013, % decline from same period in 2013)

    Irish News (39,371,- 2.2%) (37% share, up from 25% 15 years ago)
    Belfast Telegraph (37,005, -2.5%)
    News Letter (19,314, -6.9%)

    Irish News still building market share. PUL News Letter continues major decline (and at 90p a copy cf 70p for Irish News and Bel Tel, an expensive read). Traditionally CNR hostile Bel Tel also declining, though I sense its editorial stance can see which way the wind is blowing and is adjusting accordingly.

    The future is bright!

  • mickfealty

    The whole sector is in decline. In 2007 Irish News was selling 49,272 copies daily:

    Still for my money the best title in NI, but it’s only going one way for the whole field. Diversification (and innovation) is the thing.

  • Michael Henry

    I think sales are down because we can read the newsletter / Belfast Telegraph on the web for free but we have to pay for the Irish News on the web so that’s maybe why they have not dropped as far as the others-( My brother in Australia pays for the Irish news on the web-he loves the local news and local sport in it )-

  • mickfealty

    Bang on Mickey. I would also add that as a family run company they’ve probably re-invested profits directly into their human resources at a higher rate than any other local title.

  • Superfluous

    I liked the lecture, particularly the concept of now learning for yourself, without needing an education. In 1968 Bobby Kennedy made the point: “The Gross National Product does not include the beauty of our poetry or the intelligence of our public debate. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

    About six months back I downloaded a Kindle book on Morals by the Harvard Philosopher Michael Sandel. I enjoyed it so much I downloaded and read a second book. I then Googled the guy and found around 12 hours of Youtube videos of his lectures in Harvard. Over the next few months I watched all of them before reading another one of his books. Voila, a working class lad from north Belfast has just received part of a Harvard education in 3 months, for about £15 quid. A generation ago that diffusion of information or ideas would have cost a tidy 5 figure sum (plus logistical difficulties for a lad from north Belfast…) over the same period.

    So the economy has potentially lost 5 figures of turnover in borderline intellectual property theft, but I have gained a lot (of pleasure in learning, if nothing else) for my small investment. The great democratisation of information has given me something, which is worth something to me, but maybe not an economist who measures things purely by their market value. I’m not sure if I will ever produce or profit from this little bit of learning, but the point is that it’s easily available to almost all of us in the western world – and as this grows outwards, as all of us get access to cheap and abundant learning, a democratisation of innovation is bound to happen.

  • chrisjones2

    Thats a very polite way of saying the journalism is of a far higher standard. The Irish News oozes quality – the other two are a joke

  • mickfealty

    I think too that we need to learn the lessons of this degree of short cutting brings, which Ito clearly outlines. It will get into the system sooner, if we let it.

    I’m not sure it’s quite as simple as he puts it towards the end…

    The good news is that even though the world is extremely complex, what you need to do is very simple. It is about stopping this notion that you need to plan everything, you need to stock everything. You need be prepared and focused and being connected, always learning, fully aware, and super present.

    Not everything is about responding to new circumstances. There’s definitely a need to re-focus on what needs to be done, and to find new collaborative ways to unfurl resources.

    I also think there has to be some way of bringing this ‘super present’ mentality to democratic politics. That’s challenging in our case where the institutions at Stormont encourage a ‘super absent’ approach to the job.

    Nonetheless there is an important job there to be done, if we are to get beyond gesture politics.

  • Thanks for putting me onto that video, Mick. I’ll be sure to link here when I pass it on.

    I love the new Disqus comment layout, by the way – I haven’t been here for ages . . .

    . . . and yes, we have it in us.