The Anthropology of Innovation

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from Computer History Museum

This is an episode of REVOLUTIONARIES, a co-production of the Computer History Museum and KQED television, with major sponsorship by Intel. Recorded: September 13, 2012. Broadcast date: April 22, 2013. an•thro•pol•o•gy [an-thruh-pol-uh-jee] The science that deals with the origins, physical and cultural development, biological characteristics, and social customs and beliefs of humankind. Silos and silo-busting - the secret of innovation The 21st century world is marked by a profound paradox. On the one hand we are more interconnected than ever before, in the sense that we now live and operate in systems that are tightly entwined. But on the other hand, we also live at a time of great intellectual and social polarization - or silos - and social media is making some of this fracture worse, by encouraging the development of intellectual echo chambers. The presence of silos inside organizations can often be deadly; the financial industry is a case in point. But groups or people who can "silo bust" - or jump across boundaries and categories - are often extremely innovative; indeed, much of the modern innovation that has occurred in recent years has arisen because of the ability of people to silo bust. What are the key perils of silos and what do anthropologists have to say about the existence and trap of silos today? How can organizations silo-bust effectively? Award-winning journalist (and anthropologist) Gillian Tett and her panel search for the answers to these questions and many more.