Hope (and How to Rule Your School)

On my way home this afternoon, All Tech Considered ran this story. The gist is that app developers are starting younger and younger – some as young as 13. In Alabama, one young man’s school work was always disorganized, so he developed a kind of calendar app to help him hand things in on time. Teachers and administrators at his school were so impressed that they asked him to collaborate with the school system’s CTO to develop apps for other schools. This young man became very popular – receiving high fives and shout outs in the hallway.

First of all, good for him – like any entrepreneur, he identified a pain point and developed a solution. But why am I writing about this?

I wanted to start this blog off on a positive note. This is quite a gloomy time nationally. We have high unemployment, an entire generation whose prospects have been curtailed by a severe financial crisis, a government more interested in campaign dollars than governing, and a president who can’t seem to make headway. There is a feeling on the street that the west’s days as the center of world power and innovation are numbered. With US and European economies reeling, and China growing all the time, this feeling is certainly understandable.

While the young man above may be an isolated example, my hope is that his innovative instincts are a sign that his generation, the first true “net natives”, will lead the country’s recovery, and develop a truly national innovation economy, not just in SF, NYC, and Boston. The possibilities are endless, but the point is that our economy must not just “recover” – that is, return to the days when “jobs” mainly meant factory work for GE, Ford, and GM.  I’m not sure those jobs will ever come back. To truly “recover”, we must totally reinvent our economy by taking an unassailable lead in the next important technologies – web/mobile, wind/solar, electric cars, mag lev trains, etc.

We are off to a good start in some, not as much in others, and it will not be easy. My generation, especially 2008-2011 graduates, faces an uncertain future. Fortunately, there are kids out there with big ideas, and that gives me hope.

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