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The Era of Innovation

Katherine Grayson Nothing spurs creativity like dire need and urgency. Just ask our president.

One of my favorite books is Jonathan Alter's The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope (2006, Simon & Schuster). Though it may be a great deal more relevant today than it was when it was published, I came upon the Newsweek editor's tome before I had heard much about then-Sen. Barack Obama, let alone witnessed his ascension to the presidency during a period in history that may turn out to rival the Great Depression.

Given my nature (impatient, and always impressed by any ability to innovate past stumbling blocks), it's not surprising that the book left an indelible impression upon me. It's all about how our 32nd president, descended from a dynasty of activists and charged with the mission to rescue a nation swirling into despair, tried every creative, outof- the-box solution he or others could could up with, to make a difference-- and make it quickly.

In fact, it was Roosevelt's resolve to try anything and everything-- without fear of failure ("The only thing we have to fear is fear itself")-- that impresses me most. Certainly, this fearlessness must be a mark of some form of greatness, for the trait is shared by so many of history's innovators, including so many intrepid explorers, inventors, and researchers, most of whom struggle against time and lack of resources. And it will fall upon our 44th president, as well, to do the impossible with little more than the visions he and his cabinet can conjure up, and with no real models or benchmarks by which to navigate. This kind of scenario is ripe for missteps, misfires, and mishaps-- and true innovation.

Yet what better environment and impetus for every possible form of innovation, including those previously unimagined technology advances taking place right now, on your own campuses? We know that these initiatives, too, often are fueled by little more than imagination, drive, and urgent need, which make them all the more inspirational. That's why, here at Campus Technology, we once again are set to kick off our Campus Technology Innovators Awards on Feb 1. This special program is designed to recognize you, the campus technology innovator, and to motivate the technology dreamers and activists to come. The Innovators program culminates in our July Innovators Awards ceremony in Boston at Campus Technology 2009, followed by our August in-depth editorial coverage of the winners' technology initiatives. This year, as last year, look for our Innovators to join our 2009 conference track presenters and other speakers, as they share with attendees their forays into new frontiers of higher education technology exploration.

Add your name to the list of those who make technology dreams reality, even in these most challenging of times! See our 2009 Campus Technology Innovators competition Call for Entries on page 23. And to find out more about Campus Technology 2009, head here. You have nothing to fear but-- well, you know the rest. We want to hear from you!

--Katherine Grayson, Editor-In-Chief
What have you seen and heard? Send to: [email protected].

About the Author

Katherine Grayson is is a Los Angeles based freelance writer covering technology, education, and business issues.

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