Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Innovations, Age and other paradoxes

Grandiose as the heading of this post may be, I came across an interesting article by Niranjan Rajadhyaksha in Mint today. The article, referenced an American economist on the subject of innovation. Innovation has been viewed as the domain of young, dynamic people -- as something that makes a complete break from the past. What Rajadhyaksha highlights in his column via Lawrence Summers via Schumpeter, is that it may not be accurate to assume that, these days, innovation comes from these garage-types and not from within big corporations.

According to this article, there are two kinds of innovators, as identified by David Galeson, an economist at the University of Chicago: the conceptual innovators and the experimental innovators.
Galenson says that the conceptual innovators are the finders. They make bold leaps and challenge the existing way of looking at the world and doing things. This group mostly does its best work at an early age. The experimental innovators are seekers who gradually reach their goal, taking one step at a time. Their best work usually gets done later in life.
He cites some pretty interesting examples, like Jean Luc Godard, who did his best work in his younger years and Clint Eastwood, who hit his prime as a director well into his dotage. That some, like Steve Jobs, seem to have magically transcended the divide, is also duly noted.

It's interesting to apply this sort of thinking to politics. Can a comparison be made at all? The US Presidential election, with 'Change' at its center for its younger candidate, would certainly seem to suggest so. But think of India, where all our politicians not from political dynasties are gerontocrats. Are they capable of innovation in anything except new methods of graft?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Another Eternity

I so want to be regular at this thing, because I really do have things I want to say. Unfortunately, laziness and real life kind of prevent me posting here, but I'm honestly going to try to be good. (Not that anyone cares). I shall begin with some linkspam.

Slant has an excellent review of The Dark Knight. They've put into words exactly what I so loved about the movie.
There's also a great article at the Smart Set about criticism, or the lack of it, in the era of Web 2.0.
The International Herald Tribune has a fabulous article celebrating the classic book, The Leopard.

One of the more boneheaded news items in the papers today was this piece of nonsense:
New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) Condom and safe sex are terms that will find no mention in the new sex education module being devised for school students in India. It will instead stress on abstinence, the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) announced Monday. NACO director-general Sujatha Rao said the module would be adopted after intensive consultations with all partners, including parents and teachers.
How can we, as a country, be this stupid? I know the Kamasutra thing gets brought up time and again, but really, this is ridiculous. What is the point of having a sex-education class if you're not going to, you know, actually educate children? I blame parents for this as much as the education establishment in general. Sex is a part of life. Indeed, it is essential for life. How can our policymakers just... wish it away? Newsflash: if you close your eyes and ignore something, it doesn't mean that thing will disappear. If these people are at all serious about not just containing AIDS, but, hello, preventing teen pregnancy or the spread of a whole host of other STDs, they need to get their acts together and stop being so bloody priggish. You're not talking about lessons in bestiality, for crying out loud. You're talking about a completely natural function and about protecting and preparing kids/teenagers from the consequences of unsafe sex. India's attitude towards sex needs to come out of the dark ages already. We didn't become a country of over a billion people by practicing abstinence, after all. Hypocrisy, thy name is India.