Monday, June 23, 2008

Cultural Geography of Technological Adaptation

Map of rate at which technology adoption exceeds (or falls below) expectations for the country’s level of GDP. The Core/Gap Model does not apply.

We all have heard the jokes about Japanese and new technological toys. Something along the lines of teenage school girls wasting money the latest digital pet or networking device. Meanwhile Americans wait five years and pick up what they once mocked. Well, Intel Corporation decided to look into the stereotypes and see why certain cultures adopt technology faster than others. The results are somewhat surprising.

The research showed countries with agile governments willing to implement new ideas, cultures with "offline" networks already established, and a bad past all aid in technological adaptation. So being brave, wanting to improve what one already has, and wanting to be new and different are all elements of success. Meanwhile, subsidized societies (foreign aid, welfare-like mentally) have less motivation to adapt to the rapidly changing technological landscape. These slowly fall behind and are less competitive in the world. Old stovepipe cultures like governments agencies and authoritative regimes would do well to loosen their tight control on innovation. Look at the People's Republic of China's lightning quick rise to world power.

For a higher quaility map click here (PDF).


Anonymous said...

The map caption says "rate of accelerion of adaption." Does that mean this is measuring second order change? For example, if the US rate is 10, but only grows to 11, its score would be lower than Mongolia's 1, growing to 1.5 (picking arbitrary numbers for example).

I could be wrong here, just curious.

Catholicgauze said...

I think you are right George. The caption from Intel isn't the cleariest I will admit.

Greg said...

I wondered that too. Your write-up says subsidised societies have less motivation to adapt. I don't think the US is very subsidised compared to Europe, but if I'm reading the map right, we aren't very high--being beaten by the UK, Germany and Australia. I wonder if we've gotten too comfortable and don't like change.