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Technology & Innovation

So Long, Lone Inventor. Hello, Collective Capitalism.

The American myth of the lone innovator, from Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs, no longer fits the complexity of technological progress or the interconnectedness of communication systems.

What’s the Latest Development?

The way America thinks of its innovative heroes probably needs to change, says Harvard research fellow Neal Gabler. Today, technological progress is too complex for one individual to advance and communication networks make sharing ideas, a powerful part of the innovation process, amazingly easy. Companies like Firefox, Netflix and Local Motors are croudsourcing more and more information, not just to focus group their own ideas, but to solicit innovation from a wider network of creative people. 

What’s the Big Idea?

From Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs, America has nurtured its vision of lone inventors and entrepreneursthe business equivalent of the cowboy. But since the Manhattan Project, continuing to the Human Genome Project, large collections of scientists have been needed to create breakthroughs. We are moving into a more globalized understanding of innovation, one that promotes the vitality of a community. It is a change that is based on a deeper connection, says Gabler, to our biological roots which seek out social relationships.

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