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Diversity Powers Innovation

I met Scott Page about a decade ago at the Santa Fe Institute’s graduate computational economics workshop. He’s done some great work, especially on the border between poli-sci and econ. His most recent effort looks at the social science foundations (via computaional econ) of diversity–that is, diversity of thought, problem solving approaches, etc; not necessarily race or ethnic, but obviously there is a connection. (See “In Boardrooms and in Courtrooms, Diversity Makes a Difference” in the WaPo recently.)
I had him draw the connections between diversity and economic growth/innovation for a column at the office (the Center for American Progress).
Read this and then buy the book

Diversity Powers Innovation
Diversity Powers Innovation
By Scott Page
January 26, 2007
Most people believe that innovation requires smarter people, better ideas. That premise, though intuitive, omits what may be the most powerful but least understood force for innovation: Diversity.
Diversity usually calls to mind differences in race, gender, ethnicity, physical capabilities, and sexual orientation—social or political differences that at first glance have little to do with innovation. Yet the key to innovation, in economic terms, resides inside the heads of people, the more diverse the better. That link may not be immediately apparent, yet any understanding of innovation’s role in economic growth must focus on diversity as well as ability.

Filed under: Economics

Yikes – Media version


Grasping Reality with Both Hands: Brad DeLong’s Semi-Daily Journal: Why Oh Why Can’t We Have a Better Press Corps? (Los Angeles Times/Joel Stein Edition)
Why Oh Why Can’t We Have a Better Press Corps? (Los Angeles Times/Joel Stein Edition)

Joel Stein: Have something to say? I don’t care – Los Angeles Times: Not everything should be interactive. A piece of work that stands on its own, without explanation or defense, takes on its own power. If Martin Luther put his 95 Theses on the wall and then all the townsfolk sent him their comments, and he had to write back to all of them and clarify what he meant, some of the theses would have gotten all watered down and there never would have been a Diet of Worms…

But… But… But… But…
Luther did put his 95 theses on the wall. And he asked for everybody interested to send him comments. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther mailed his theses to Pope Leo X, the Archbishop of Mainz, his friends, and scholars at other universities besides Wittenberg. He probably posted them on the Castle Church door as well–the standard way of advertising a theological event. He asked readers to come to Wittenberg to discuss and debate his theses, and if they could not do so, to debate him by letter.
Here’s Martin Luther:

Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences: Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.

In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (1) Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance…
I don’t know what I’m going to say in fifty years when my great-grandchildren ask me, “Great-grandpapa, what were newspapers?” Perhaps: “Well, they were big buildings located in cities, where managers paid people to be ignorant and write about things they did not understand…”

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