A Tale of Two Innovations in Technology

“Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation.”

– JK Rowling

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

– Steve Jobs

Today’s post is all about innovations in technology, in light of today’s scheduled release of Apple’s iOS 7 and the ongoing debate about technology in general and the Internet in particular, causing people to “go over to the dark side”.

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-apple-ios7-20130918,0,7518069.story

I will write a future post devoted to my insights into iOS 7 and implications for female entrepreneurs at a later date, and when I have had time to actually study and interact with iOS 7 in its entirety. As an iOS App developer I have already gotten previews and have been privy to some knowledge. But I want to wait before writing about it. I need more time to see the ripple effects. As an iPad Evangelist who gives professional seminars to train people in iPad App integration. As a female entrepreneur on a mission to balance humanity and technology in today’s startup culture. As a self professed tech-geek and observer of human nature. One who thinks this current era, filled with technological opportunity and access to our own Library of Alexandria i.e. the Internet, makes it one of the most exciting and interesting times to be alive! Not everyone seems to view technology, especially the Internet, in this light. So I am weighing in on the issue, and hope you will too…..

I recently read an article in Venture Beat by CEO/Co-Founder of Backupify, Rob May, who asks, “Is the Internet killing innovation?”.  I respectfully disagreed with both his premise and arguments, and wrote why, in my latest Tumblr blogpost:

 http://niceinitiative.tumblr.com

 I have a different question today for this site’s blogpost…..“Is storytelling a sign of societal innovation, and if so, how is it manifesting in this day and age?” 

 I want to tie that response to current cultural and technological trends which have affected female entrepreneurship, and give you my NICE (Nice, Informed, Competent, Entrepreneurship) Perspective on both the Internet and the art of storytelling, a subject near and dear to my heart as both a pediatric speech therapist and an entrepreneur about to be published.

Storytelling is truly a timeless art because of the way the characters, be they real or imagined, exercise their human right to Pivot; something entrepreneurs know about, especially in this economy. I myself am in the process of partially pivoting my career from the educational arena to the business arena. So I can appreciate how storytelling is the glue that binds both together, providing life lessons and glimmers into our collective inner landscapes in the process. Storytelling is a time honored tradition in Native American and Aboriginal Tribes, as well as a favorite pastime of children all over the world. We grown ups in touch with our inner child have the same need for stories, but the way in which we get them may have changed. TV shows and films are the harbingers of stories today, a “whole body” immersive, interactive experience if done right, that can highlight the human condition in all its mess and glory. Just think about Hollywood’s greatest stories in recent years; the TV show Lost, which kept people, myself included, riveted to the small screen for years. Think of James Cameron’s Avatar which literally caused a resurgence of interest in the technology surrounding the making of 3D movies. 

Before these two cultural and technological phenomena, there was one trailblazer who rebooted the dramatic storytelling genre, through poignant, humorous, and brilliant storytelling. I’m referring to Joss Whedon, who first regaled us with tales of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1997, the same year Corporate America first heard the term “disruptive innovation”. The term referring to the rebooting, the pivoting of an economy, based on an innovative product, usually technology based, that drives commerce and brokers war and/or peace around the world. The term coined by Clayton Christensen, the business man and Harvard University professor whose book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, is required reading for any self professing entrepreneur today. Interesting, right? 

Patterns. I believe in patterns. That is why I love stories. That is why I love the Internet. That is why I love the potential social media taps into, when used properly. That is why I love being an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur, especially a female one, learns so much from studying patterns; behavioral, technological, and economical. 

Economy after all, is the study of human behavior, and how it affects cultural mores and commerce. Storytelling after all, especially when provided by Joss Whedon, is the study of the human condition and our attempts to reboot ourselves and begin anew

Joss Whedon is truly one of my all time favorite innovative storytellers. As the creator of The Character Pivot i.e. jaw dropping, cliffhanger moments in the lives of his avatars, he singlehandedly changed the Story Arc for strong female characters across all genres.  His introduction of Buffy and the Buffyverse spawned movements, including literary ones where courses in Oxford and PhD students were pontificating on Whedon’s take on feminism, urban legends, and human impulses. His profoundly moving modern day storytelling during his weekly one hour dramedy on television, forever changed the way a generation viewed relationships and frankly, themselves. 

Whedon was recently interviewed by Entertainment Weekly in anticipation of his new TV show The Avengers. I’ll feature him, lessons learned from his various shows, and that show in a future post, (and when I’ve seen the show!) as I continue to write more about the two main struggles a person faces in this life: balancing humanity and technology, and eschewing fear and embracing change. 

I must also give honorable mention to another modern storytelling guru in our midst, and get back to today’s question. After I mention Tim Kring, creator of the groundbreaking television shows Heroes and Touch.  I personally got many people in the special education hooked on Touch. We initiatlly came to see its portrayal of a nonverbal boy with Autism. We stayed for the weekly helping of existentialism and excellent storytelling. Both shows have publicly and privately impacted the lives of people who may have never heard about/seen the show, if it wasn’t for innovation. 

How? Through the Internet…..you know, that pesky, pervasive entity “killing innovation” and maybe even brain cells, based on this article:

http://venturebeat.com/2013/09/14/how-the-internet-is-killing-innovation/#

What you may not know about Tim Kring, is that according to an October 2012 interview, his Conspiracy For Good Project came about because of stories. Stories that began as web-based fan fiction about Heroes, and then included real world players. To orchestrate change. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8udX-LNU5t0&feature=player_detailpage

Kring believes that ultimately, stories are always inspirational, because they have “the ability to connect one another, to let people know one another, to share, and allow for an incredibly exciting movement to rise up around various ideas”. The YouTube video narrator gives the example of a musician named Nadira X, who tries to build a children’s library in Zambia, Africa. She has a whopper of a story to share. A true one. An entrepreneurial one. An inspiring one. 

Nadira tries to instigate change, and comes up against seemingly insurmountable odds and corporate greed. She discovers that Blackwell Briggs, a British company, tries to interfere with construction of the library. She finds proof that the company committed fraud, to further their agenda about an oil pipeline. The conspiracy is exposed by her, and her fellow members of that project, who help her in her quest. On the world stage. On the Internet. Riveting stuff; both Kring’s words and the entire ten minute video. Worth checking out, and even sharing with others! 

This story especially resonated with me because of the work I have been doing with CLASP International, for the past six months,  to help speech therapists design an Autism Clinic in Zambia. Work I have done stateside, sight unseen, over the Internet, donating my time and materials to train staff headed to Africa, to help children in need. Because I believe that philanthropy is embedded in our human, especially female DNA. Because I believe that leaving a legacy that is self sustaining, and facilitates others to orchestrate change, is part of the DNA of an entrepreneur’s mission, especially for women. Why? 

We women are hard wired to measure overall job satisfaction and pride in our performance, by calibrating how much of a positive impact we have on community, not just ourselves.

That is why I so strongly believe that social entrepreneurship will be the next wave, that has already begun. That is why I believe so strongly in the potential for good that the Internet wields. In truth, I feel that technology is a blessing for today’s society as a whole, a tool that can be used to promote meaningful, lasting change. A tale of two innovations in technology…..the Internet and Digital Visual Storytelling, using the media of moving pictures, to drive economic and educational reform. 

Economics after all, is all about behavior, and the societal and geopolitical trends contributing to a behavior’s increase or decline. 

Behavior can be shaped. Entrepreneurs know this, or figure it out quickly. Educators know this. It is actually my area of specialty, treating social communication challenges in children with Autism as a trained pediatric speech-language pathologist, these last twenty years. Parents know this. It is why parenting books, magazines, websites, and Facebook forums produce such a plethora of self-help posts and manuals addressing everything from strange grooming habits in the morning (or no grooming habits) to tantrums at bedtime, and all those joyous moments in between 🙂 

The innovative nature and content of the Internet, while really still in its nascent stage, demonstrates the shaping of our collective behavior, one mouse click/finger swipe at a time. 

According to Clayton Christenson, “An innovation that is disruptive, allows a whole new population of consumers at the bottom of a market, access to a product or service that was historically only accessible to consumers with a lot of money or a lot of skill”. Like the smartphone. Like the Kindle™. Like the iPad®. Like Tim Kring taking his Heroes story to the masses, via the Internet. 

The result? New venues for storytelling. Improved literacy in our nation’s youth. Increased opportunities for us to engage in reverse mentorship, transparency, and enthusiasm about our daily routines. 

Kind of like tapping into our inner child’s sense of wonder, when faced with a new day and new things to learn. But that is a whole other article, which I just wrote for my weekly column in the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/penina-rybak/to-play-by-the-rules-or-not_b_3944584.html

To me, Internet + Human Potential for Renewal = Innovation. It is demonstrated by the invention of products which change both the arc of a person’s Story, and how he/she tells it. Please share this post and feel free to comment; even if you disagree 🙂

 A person’s opinion is the start of the process towards self-awareness and innovation….

Best,

Penina

Image  Image

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About penina4niceinitiative

Penina Rybak MA/CCC-SLP, TSHH, CEO of Socially Speaking LLC, is the author of "The NICE Reboot: A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur". She is an Autism specialist and educational technology consultant turned social entrepreneur. She is also a pediatric speech therapist and the creator of the Socially Speaking™ Program & iPad App. Her second book, "Autism Intervention in the iEra" was published in 2015. Since 2010, Penina has been a national/international speaker about social communication development, balancing humanity and technology, and best practices re: mobile and social technology. Connect with her on LinkedIn to learn more. You can also find her on Twitter: @PopGoesPenina, Facebook: Socially Speaking LLC, Google+ at The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship, and Pinterest and YouTube as well.
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