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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Failure of Imagination

University of Waterloo President David Johnston on the Canadian government's "digital strategy":
Despite the lip service on the digital economy, Johnston said, the government doesn't appear to understand how important broadband and other information communications technology (ICT), such as mobile phones, are to economic development.

"There's a lack of understanding that ICT is a transforming set of technologies, as important as the printing press was 500 years ago. Because Western Europe understood the transforming qualities of the printing press, it took off. Chinese society, Islamic society and Indian society did not," he said."

We are at least in that kind of measurable comparison today. Those societies that have a better understanding of the digital economy will prosper very quickly and those that don't will not. We've had a failure of imagination there."
How serious is this "failure of imagination" with regard to a "transforming set of technologies"? Very serious.

We know that Canada is lagging partially due to high cellphone rates and slow smartphone adoption rates.

We also know that our educational system is not preparing the next generation of creative/information workers.
Johnston said the country's university system must shoulder part of the blame for the lag in Canada's technological mindset. The schools haven't done enough to train students to work smarter, he said, which means that few Canadian companies succeed based on innovation. Of Canada's biggest companies, most are banks, while only BlackBerry maker Research In Motion — also based in Waterloo — has succeeded internationally, mainly because it has focused on innovation.
Innovation is the key, and the time is now.

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