Storms and doldrums

In the latest episode of On the Media, the public radio show, I chat with Bob Garfield about the storm that took down one of Amazon’s data centers and, with it, Netflix, Pinterest, and Instagram. Here’s the segment:

Speaking of Instagram, I have a short essay in this weekend’s Wall Street Journal that speculates on what’s behind the underwhelming state of innovation in America today. The piece begins:

When Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced in April that his company would pay $1 billion in cash and stock to buy Instagram, the deal put an exclamation mark on the shrinking ambitions of our inventors and entrepreneurs. Instagram has 13 employees and zero revenues. Its claim to fame is a free smartphone app that reformats photographs to look as if they were taken by an old Kodak Instamatic. Providing yet another means for people to fiddle with snapshots is super, but it’s hardly a moonshot. …

I introduced the idea of a “hierarchy of innovation” in a post in May. Here, as a reminder, is what my proposed hierarchy looks like (click on the image to enlarge it):
hierarchy of innovation.jpg

3 thoughts on “Storms and doldrums

  1. Owen Youngman

    The WSJ piece goes right into my graduate syllabus, in which I used the pyramid after you published it in May. Me, I may vote for decadence over stagnation, but both cases can be well made.

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