Evgeny Morozov's withering review of The Industries of the Future by one-time US State Department advisor-turned-wannabe Thought Leader Alec Ross is a terrific read:
Ross's brief moment of national fame had more to do with his penchant for self-promotion than innovation. In summer 2010, Ross and Cohen took a delegation of American technology executives from the likes of Cisco and Microsoft to Damascus to meet with Bashar al-Assad - strange are the twists of twenty-first-century statecraft. Never missing an opportunity to show off, the pair tweeted all the fun they were having in Syria. (Cohen: "I'm not kidding when I say I just had the greatest frappuccino ever at Kalamoun University north of Damascus"; Ross: "Creative Diplomacy: @jaredcohen challenged Minister of Telecom to cake-eating contest.") […]
There are occasional wild predictions, which are either irrelevant or impossible to substantiate. What good is it to say that in the future you will be able to host a dinner party with eight people at the table, all speaking different languages, while the voice in your ear will be whispering the language of your choice? Moreover, do you know anybody with a burning need to organize such a dinner party?
This book by the State Department's former innovation adviser merely attests to the intellectual bankruptcy of the term "innovation," which in the hands of people like Ross has ceased to have any substantive meaning. For Ross, "innovation" is an activity that will prepare you for the future—which can, of course, be foreseen if you surround yourself with enough "innovators." But what exactly makes Ross an innovator? Tweeting about Cohen's cake-eating contest in Syria? That may very well be: mastery of social media is what passes for savvy technology strategy these days.
[Via The Overspill]