Saturday, June 1, 2013

Challenges, changes and upstarts

The TED talk by Ernesto Sirolli is one of my favorites.  He says that a successful product requires three skills:

    • Invention and improvement of the invention

    • Marketing

    • Handling the money coming in, going out, being invested, etc.

Sirolli maintains that no individual is good at all three skills.  So, I conclude that in today's world, you need to be able to work with others.

Working with others comes naturally to those who want to teach.  Normally, one cannot produce one's own students in sufficient number.  One must rely on students produced by others.  So, normally, you have to be able to work with others.  You can't do it alone.

But at the same time, a member of an organization needs to be a contributor to its good.  Sometimes, professors say that if one person is always in agreement with another, one of them is superfluous.

Personal electronic technology such as the home computer, the digital camera and the Apple products are often cited as examples of highly successful modern products.  They result from good design, good marketing and good pricing.  Yet, despite all the talk, the market for such products is clearly still developing.  New methods and new tools take time to meet with approval.  I watched Paola Antonelli, a curator for the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) explain in her TED talk how "all hell broke loose" when she acquired 12 video games as part of the museum collection.  How dare she display Pac Man alongside of Picasso and Monet?  The uproar and reaction she described reminded me of my friend's situation about 25 years ago.

He was a professor of audio-visual education.  His dissertation had been a slide show explaining the result of smoking cigarettes on lungs.  After that, he had created many other educational materials.  Yet, many professors and administrators are convinced over the years that only print matters.  If you have something published in an approved journal, you have contributed to human knowledge.  If you are playing around with film or sound or software, or worse, computer games, you are merely messing about.  Especially if money, profit, has been made from such toys, it seems clear to many that one has not been involved with serious matters or real knowledge.  He was promoted but it was a stretch for many involved in the decision.  Of course, it is just such stretches that enrich us and modify our society.

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