Falling Off Of The Cutting Edge

from the heard-this-before... dept

It appears the big east coast newspapers are having a field day with the idea that “technology doesn’t matter” any more. Two weeks ago we had a post about how the NY Times was wondering if technology had lost its “special” status. Now, the Washington Post has followed up with an almost identical article. Both are based on an article in the Harvard Business Review by Nicholas Carr. The basic premise of these articles seems to be based around the idea that innovation has ended, and we should get used to technology as a “boring” input – like electricity. The technology industry, not surprisingly, has reacted violently against this idea. There are some good points brought up in the articles – about how companies probably should spend some time focusing on making their systems work properly before just jumping onto the latest and greatest – but it absolutely misses on the idea that new applications won’t come along (and won’t drive the industry forward). It doesn’t take much imagination to look at where we are now, and where we could be and realize that there’s plenty of room for technology to grow. There are any number of problems that companies have that could be solved by technology – and which will provide companies strategic advantages in the future. Assuming that technology innovation (and any related strategic advantage) is dead is just being short-sighted. Update: ZDNet has now put up a piece on this subject as well, suggesting that Carr is partly correct – but that he’s too early. The article basically says that technology is way too immature at this stage to be a commodity input – but that it will get there.

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Comments on “Falling Off Of The Cutting Edge”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Shades of 1993

Yes, that was when the dean of the MIT business school famously stated that computers have not led to productivity growth, therefore computers are worthless investments.

Economic authorities of the time talked about Zero Growth Theory, that the government should play a more active role in regulating the economy because Japan was the “model of government-industry cooperation”. Culturally, it gave rise to the notion of “Generation X” — the generation that would spend the rest of their lives flipping hamburgers at McDonalds.

In that era, if you went to a job fair with computer skills on your resume, recruiters would say stuff like “why don’t you have more useful skills, like accounting?” and toss the resume into the trash in front of you.

It’s interesting that the NY Times was eager to call NY the dot-com capital of the world, when the dot com boom was around.

Michael Bravo (user link) says:

instantiation of technology

I think that someone, somewhere, has confused the term with the instance of one. Granted, English is not my native language, but I awlays thought thattechnology is a process and not even a single one, but rather a class of processes. Which technology exactly is getting so stale as to provoke this kind of discussions? Personal computing? Wireless communications? All right, perhaps these have entered the rapid commoditization phase. But how about all the other technologies? Nanotech is nowhere near, [real] space tech is still mostly the real of sci-fi…. and the enumeration is too big to complete here anyway. And 20 years from now, I guess there will be foo-tech and baz-tech in their infancy.
Perhaps this is nit-picking, but IMHO it obviates the subject of the discussions.

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