The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge, and Society offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the Technology, Knowledge & Society Research Network.
The integration of technology in culture and art in Europe is transformational. Technology is changing the social fabric of cities in Central Europe, like the existential movements of the past have done. Cities like Vienna, Prague, Linz, and Berlin are experiencing a socio-cultural renaissance because of technology. In Prague, the philosophy of Franz Kafka is having significant impact on society in the digital age. Kafka’s existentialism is as relevant today as it was 100 years ago. Kafka said, “The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual.”1 Kafka’s existentialism is relevant, from the perspective of social anthropology, to understanding digital media’s transformative effect on the culture of Prague today. In Vienna, the Viennese aim to create things that are different, weird, and strange—and they are doing it with digital media in the twenty-first century. Vienna is currently a hotbed of innovative applications of digital media in art. In Vienna, there is a new kind of modernism, a digital modernism. In Berlin, though the scars from Cold War division remain today, there is remarkable resiliency in the city and a plan to make it a leader in digital media in Europe, and perhaps around the world. Digital media is many things in Berlin. It is technology, art, commerce, education, and lifestyle. Digital media is bringing together high society and bohemianism, in an effort to create a new economy. German existentialist Friedrich Nietzche advocated for cultural rebirth in Europe. Europe is experiencing such a rebirth with digital media: creating artistic and social cultures that are wildly interesting and progressive and have technology integrated in them.
Scholars, artists, and leader of institutions around the globe have long known that being innovative means thinking out of the box, solving problems in new ways, coming up with fresh approaches to creative challenges, and engaging in a process that begins with an original concept and evolves into something tangible: a written work, a piece of art, a strategy that causes an organization to function better, or an effective curriculum. Real innovation produces results.
Innovating is an iterative process: conceiving, trying, failing, and trying again. The innovator may never know what kind of product will result from his or her effort or when it will result. Therefore, the process of making innovation is usually unpredictable, sometimes wayward, and potentially relentless. It is a process that could go on with no meaningful result ever achieved – a process that could be construed as experimental. However, innovation itself is not experimental.
Innovation should not be the buzzword for simply trying things or seeing what happens. With innovation, there should be an end realized, a product made. The experienced innovator knows this. He or she knows, because he or she likely is accomplished in his or her field and previously has made important things: books, buildings, art, or institutional change. Real innovation is fundamental in academia, art, and leadership. Trendy innovation, that based on a whim or fashioned to achieve a quick fix or reach a consensus, is not.
Innovators are makers. They make new ideas happen. Mark Zuckerberg did not just write code for Facebook, he launched it. Frank Gehry did not just sketch the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, he built it. Kafka did not just tell stories about humankind’s existential life, he wrote and published them. Once made, innovation can be shared with other scholars, artists, and leaders – to great effect. Millions of people have read Kafka’s books, visited the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and used Facebook. These innovations have changed people, as art, literature, and communication tools should.
In my career as a scholar, tech artist, and digital media leader, I have known innovation to be the all-important foundation of significant new work. I am wary of trendy innovation in the form of over-celebrated artists-du- jour, “visionary” faculty who fail to devise relevant curricula, authors whose hip prose is strangely familiar to previously published work, and leaders who sell trite slogans as purposeful strategy. I know we can do better. Innovation is authentic. Make innovation.
Andrea D. Isogai, Dr. Daniel D. McCarthy, Jim D. Karagatzides, Skye Vandenberg, Holly Gardner, Vicky Edwards, Dr. Don Cowan, and Dr. Leonard J. S. Tsuji, The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge, and Society, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp.131-142