Innovation

Part of the short shelf-life of really-existing, shape-shifting innovation comes from the fact that innovation, like change, is very much in the eye of the beholder, assuming he or she lasts long enough through all of it.

For the 30s-something Silicon Valley entrepreneur looking east, key milestones of change include U.S. economic growth based on secure property rights, opening up of European markets, the break-up of the Soviet Union, and the colossal economic development of the People’s Republic of China.

For the 30s-something entrepreneurial party member in Beijing looking west, key milestones of change include massive economic growth in China without secure property rights, the unprecedented privatization of public assets in post-Soviet Russia (a world historical event rivaling the USSR collapse), the growing isomorphism between the European Parliament and its Brussel’s bureaucracy with the National People’s Congress and the Party bureaucracy, and a Silicon Valley whose own technologies ensure their widespread pirating for future economic growth in China and elsewhere.

Either way, markets are maelstroms of innovations, those natural experiments in institutional destruction offering little or no chance of going back to before.

There’s also no small irony in the fact that the advocates of innovation privilege the role of error in their drive to innovation at the same time the advocates dismiss the real-time operational redesigns by infrastructure operators that the premature innovations have necessitated as “tinkering,” no more than “patches” and “workarounds.”

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