Sustainability and Innovation

Via Doug Belshaw, this excellent quote from an article on sustainability and innovation:

Our experience tells us that it is exactly because American companies are so amazingly innovative, entrepreneurial, and intensely competitive that they can’t find ways to deal with the global challenges. Finding sustainable solutions isn’t about discovering new, ever-more disruptive ideas. It requires the opposite, something very un-American: standardization, slowness, and centralization. To most, more ideas are always better. But in this case, the more green solutions we have, the less effective and efficient processes become.

Emphasis mine.

I recently spent a good part of an evening looking for the particular plug that goes to my Galaxy Tab. I feel like I spend a lot of time searching for the right cord to things. And of course, new device, new cord — you can never reuse the ones you have.

I have something like 20 or 30 orphan plugs at home, none of them the slightest use anymore apparently.

I’m sure there’s benefits each manufacturer would point out to the specific cord they designed, etc., etc. But the net effect of cord propagation is lots of cheap plastic waste and lost hours searching for plugs. In the end, the value of the innovation is counteracted by the incompatibilities it creates.

When you innovate within a standard, sustainability (both ecological and financial) becomes possible.

I think you could apply some of this to OER or educational practice in general, but I’ll let you all do that yourselves.

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