Does Obama Really “Get” Innovation? Not Really

I have in recent days been looking at curricula in design schools all over. You would have seen posts here about how service design is the management-wallahs (and there are many among us in design who find management a big turn on) gaining prominence, how interaction design is the computer-science-wallahs gaining prominence (and their position is not about quality of life so much as problem-solving, the internet is taken for granted. as is the pervasive nature of the digital. But is that all?). Both these disciplines are a-political and anti-social so now they both have jargon to make up for the deficiency: Corporate Social Responsibility and User Centered Design. Both of these perspectives answer the question (which has come done unaltered from the 1st industrial age) of “how do we humanise our work?” So this is top-down perspectives trying to sound bottom up. This was my criticism of the BOP agenda – where CK speaks of ‘money to be made’ in the markets where the poor shop!!

Dont you find that a bit problematic. Post crash we have seen acknowledgement of the venality of the ‘top’ – and the bailout by the friends of the ‘top’. I dont see Obama making that much of a change. He has the promise – but isn’t ll that much of a bottom up person. He was after all only a community organiser – not like some of us ‘an activist’. And therein lies the biggest challenge to world civilization – to do ‘feel good’ stuff (Obama) or to get down and ‘privilege’ the bottom over the ‘top’. This is impossible for this way of thinking is considered ‘left’ and red.

Does Obama Really “Get” Innovation? Not Really. – BusinessWeek

I’ve been reading the Obama Administration Plan for Innovation, Science & Technology on the barackobama.com.issues.technology site. And the site name gives it all away—the discussion about innovation is on the tech site. There is, in fact, very little in the way of innovation in this plan, as you will see for itself when you read it. It’s all about technology—math and science and engineering. Which is terrific, but not necessarily innovative.

Now on all the major issues, Obama gets it right—openness of the net (yes), connecting government with its citizens through social media, more funding for science, a permanent R&D tax credit, etc. You can check off the issues.

But, and this is a big but, there is little about user-centric methods to create new options for tough problems in education, transporation or health. The Plan says that “Obama will appoint the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer (CTO).” Well, he actually needs to appoint a Chief Innovation Officer (CIO) because change is as much about sociology as technology, as much about creativity as science.

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