Innovation depends on keeping the costs of innovation down, making sure that financing is available, and making sure that markets are accessible. It does not depend on R&D grants or targeted industrial policy.
So the next time you see a piece of legislation that has an impact on an open Internet, software or business method patents, copyright enforcement, free and fair competition, open government, or cyber security, I urge you to see it through the lens of the competition between incumbent industrial hierarchies and emergent networks.
Consider who is sponsoring the legislation. Does it really protect consumers or does it protect the business models and cost structures of the incumbents?
I recently heard a woman from the Occupy movement say the most poignant thing. She said “no one is coming for us”. Her generation does not expect the government to be there when they need it, nor do they think the incumbent industrial hierarchies are structured or motivated to address the challenges they expect to face.
Remarkably, she was not depressed, defeated or bitter. She was determined. The kids who grew up inside AOL chat rooms and came of age on Facebook have an intuitive understanding of the power of networks that our generation will never have.
They are not asking us to fix the problems we left them with. They are asking us not to get in their way as they try to dig themselves out. I think we owe them that.
I was remiss in not blogging this post yesterday. We’re fortunate to have Brad so eloquently lay out the crux of the disconnect between innovators today and public policy. Great stuff.