True or false? Innovation is elitist

\n

\nLeave it to the New York Times to stir up the innovation pot with the provocative thesis that innovation is increasingly becoming the exclusive preserve of the techno-elite, notwithstanding the recent trend toward consumer-generated innovation. In the article, G. Paschal Zachary argues that innovation has a long way to go before it is truly democratized:


"User-generated content — from Wikipedia\nto YouTube to open-source software — is generating waves of excitement.\nBut the opening of innovation to wider numbers of people obscures\nanother trend: many of the most popular new products, like the iPod, are dominated by a top-down, elite innovation model that doesn’t allow for customization. "New technologies are becoming so complex that many are beyond the\npossibility of democracy playing a role in their development," said\nThomas P. Hughes, a science and technology professor at the University of Pennsylvania."

According to skeptics interviewed for the New York Times article, "user-generated innovation is merely a kind of democracy lite,\nemphasizing high-end consumer products and services rather than\ninnovations that broadly benefit society." In other words, "huge amounts of money are\nspent on improving Web search engines or MP3 players" while "scant\nattention" is given to alternative energy sources and the types of diseases that typically afflict the poorest nations of the world.

\n\n

[image: Snobs by Julian Fellowes]

\n
Related Articles

Scientists discover what caused the worst mass extinction ever

How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.

Credit: Ron Miller
Surprising Science

While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.

Keep reading Show less

Why we're so self-critical of ourselves after meeting someone new

A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.

New acquaintances probably like you more than you think. (Photo by Simone Joyner/Getty Images)
Surprising Science

We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.

Keep reading Show less

NASA launches ICESat-2 into orbit to track ice changes in Antarctica and Greenland

Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.

Firing three pairs of laser beams 10,000 times per second, the ICESat-2 satellite will measure how long it takes for faint reflections to bounce back from ground and sea ice, allowing scientists to measure the thickness, elevation and extent of global ice
popular

Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).

Keep reading Show less