Monday, June 11, 2012

Balancing Innovation and Tradition?

Through the wondrous ways of the world wide web, I linked into a blog on innovation that seems to have emanated from the recent 'Transiting Venus' hui on the East Coast. Being quite partial to a good debate on innovation, I delved in, or is it on, and must confess to being rather disappointed at the pitiful start...

"For a start, put aside labels like “Maori” – we are all just “people”. Many traditions are made to be broken – they are anchoring us to the past. Remember the past, but don’t dwell in it. To achieve progress, boundaries must be pushed, old ideas thrown out or built upon. “Traditional” doesn’t mean “perfect”; change is sometimes required."

This from someone called 'ShadowMind'. For many Maori, this is the sort of conversation that somewhere includes, "I'm not racist, but..."

Anyways, I added my thoughts and awaited, with baited breath, for my post to appear like a wee fly struck in the proverbial www. Unfortunately, there was a hiccup as I made a rather undiplomatic comment about an old researcher I've worked with in the past, a woman who has made a bad habit of playing devil's advocate while the jury was still out. Nice work if you can get it.

Anyways, I removed the offending sentence though left my overly polite comment on ShadowMind's use of anonymity, being 'mindful that shadowy anonymity is an innovation enabled by digital technologies.' I even left a smiley face :) Oh, and I blog under my own name.

I'm quite happy with labels like 'Maori' in relevant contexts, such as a debate on innovation and tradition in NZ. My concern is that there's a huge literature on innovation, as we might expect from something that has been so dominant in modernity (not least through Schumpeters 'creative destruction', the guts of capitalism). Let's tap into it.

So far, no posting from the McDairmid institutes forum. And I must confess I used the opportunity to promote my upcoming paper on 'Innovation, Maori, and the Māori Economy: a flat or lumpy world?' that will be delivered at Nga Pae's conference in Auckland at the end of this month. 

My wider concern is that we just aren't engaged in the debate, although I understand the reasons why. I accuse ShadowMind of racism, the moderator disagrees, afterall, she's already accepted the first posting, presumably thankful to have something to present to the world, I call them a bunch a fcukwits....

You get the pikitia.

Two friends of mine - Pauline harris and Hemi Cummings - have tried to spark debate on a faceBook page dedicated to the Maori Association of Research Scientists. So far, Rob Whitbourne and I have had a nice exchange, Pauline's posted on the Transit of Venus event. Otherwise very little. 


One reason might be fear. I know I'm scared to post sometimes. In my early days, I put something out there and got burnt, or is it flamed?! Kinda knocks you for a while, and for some, maybe there's no coming back to the www. Or you keep it inhouse, amongst friends, between Maori and fellow travellers.

Tain't how our tipuna did it.

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Simon Lambert

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