Monday, October 29, 2007

Flexibility, Shack Living and Innovation

Will technological development benefit developing countries? Will it crowd out "real world lab" innovations? To answer these questions one needs to dig somewhat somewhat deeper into the changing nature of technological development. Globalisation and increased connectivity are changing the way societies are organised. Castells in The Rise of the Network Society* argues that the post-industrial society is moving away from stable organisational structures to continuous innovation. This is supported by ICT and automation where processes are adjusted and reorganised with a click of a mouse. With ICT, innovation can now happen at different times, places and through different actions - flexibility becomes a key differentiator.

If there is one place where this new commodity "flexibility" is in enormous supply it is the shacks of Cape Town, the slums of Calcutta and the ghetto's in the US. The challenge remains to link this survivalistic flexibility to the innovation process and to financial capital without sacrificing the human desire for some kind of order and structure (Verkerk et al **)

* Castells, M. 2000. The rise of the network society. Malden: Blackwell Publishing.
** Verkerk M. et al, 2007. Techniek en Globalisering (Technology and Globalisation). Beweging, 71(3):16-19)

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