We have come to a place where innovators, entrepreneurs – everyone wants to be “creative” – mostly in the sense of creating something new, and then producing lots of it.
For a healthier approach to growth – technological, personal, economic, social – we need to ask many other questions with this. Are we building something that’s truly needed/useful? There’s so much contrived demand and innovation floating around that wastes humongous amounts of now-critical resources. There are problems in the social space, those of understanding change around us, and those of managing them – that need solving. Creating yet another tool/toy that basically do what we’ve been doing for ages in a new, shiny way – however ‘optimal’ – isn’t really helping us anymore. the optimization has a cost elsewhere – newer, bigger problems are getting ignored or at best inadequate attention. What the cost of what we’re producing, vs the benefits of its existence is a question that must be answered honestly. For instance, I’m not too sure the answer is a good, happy one for all the “data on the cloud” vis-a-vis the energy needed to power it – more energy than any single country needs!
Perhaps this whole quest for personal glory and accomplishment – usually through the quickest path and the relatively low hanging fruits – has gone too far. Its easier to be an exhibitionist on social media for your 15 minutes of fame than to drive real social change, but its not what will help us. In various degrees, a lot of what we do is more like the former than the latter.
A sense of balance getting restored will help. Great minds through the ages have solved problems not necessarily to patent and profit from it in the immediate term, but because those problems possessed them – irrespective of TAM, viability, margins. People participated in social, political change irrespective of personal glory or goals. The importance accorded to a small set of paths, jobs, professions and endeavours – economically, socially – betrays our need to get to accepted notions and affirmation of “excellence” in the easiest possible way irrespective of what the collective cost is. Too many apps doing the same thing – not necessarily even better. Too many phone models which are essentially the same (beyond a point, cheap isn’t). Too many options for this that and everything else. Each of us trying v v hard to establish why we’re different, unique, worth it, trying to carve out a space for our name on the plaques that we were oh-so-amazing. And we’ve individually, and even collectively lost sight of why all these games that we’re trying to be awesome at came to be in the first place.
Just perhaps, we’re overdoing it.