March 11, 2006

FRANK MOSS, head of MIT’s Media Lab, looks at mass innovation and disruptive change:

What role will startups play in the future?

I see tremendous economic growth from startups from 10 years ago. Entrepreneurs will go from the 1,000 startup ventures funded in the last 10 to 20 years to ideas coming from people working together in network-based environments, using computers to dream up innovations in a way they never did before. It could be people in developing countries with low-cost computers.

You talk about education and the bottom-up effect that millions more people will play in societal advances. How do you see this unfolding?

We will undergo another revolution when we give 100 million kids a smart cell phone or a low-cost laptop, and bootstrap the way they learn outside of school. We think of games as a way to kill time, but in the future I think it will be a major vehicle for learning.

Creative expression (is another area). No longer will just a few write or create music. We will see 100 million people creating the content and art shared among them. Easy-to-use programs allow kids to compose everything form ringtones to full-fledged operas. It will change the meaning of creative art in our society.

We are already seeing early signs of it in blogs. The source of creative content is coming from the world. That revolution will go well outside of the written word to all forms of visual and performing arts.

Read the whole thing. Naturally, I agree with the notion of widespread bottom-up efforts bringing about substantial change. And I’ve got a whole chapter on games and learning in An Army of Davids. People keep asking about my “next book,” and I’m beginning to think that the social impact of gaming — games are the “dark matter” of contemporary culture, getting far less attention than they deserve in terms of their impact — may be the way to go.

UPDATE: More here, from the BBC:

It is not an impact on the epic scale of an asteroid smashing into the Earth and killing off the dinosaurs, but the collision of technology and media is having profound effects on a more modern ecosystem.

Media are becoming democratised, and a global conversation is emerging.

The tools of production – used to create digital content such as blogs, podcasts, wikis, discussions, multiplayer games, mashups (I’ll describe each of those in more detail below) – are increasingly powerful and easy to use, yet decreasingly expensive.

Distribution is also becoming less expensive and easily arranged. . . . The democratisation of media is also, fundamentally, about the people we once called mere consumers. Their role is evolving from a passive one to something much more interactive, but they are blessed (or cursed, depending on one’s viewpoint) with an unprecedented variety of voices and services.

Hey, somebody should write a book on this stuff!

And illustrating this phenomenon is some rather cool niche-market videoblogging at Geek Entertainment TV. I found it pretty entertaining, but, well, you’d expect that, wouldn’t you . . . .

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