New Year’s Message: From Optimism And Innovation… To The Power To Make A Difference

For the past few years, we’ve had a bit of a New Year’s tradition here at Techdirt. The “final” post I put up for the year is a discussion on, well, awesomeness. Three years ago, it was “on staying happy”, in response to people complaining that reading Techdirt made them upset, and wondering how I kept writing for it. I noted that there were so many more reasons to be happy and optimistic than pessimistic — because even as there were some who fought against innovation, just look at how many amazing things happened anyway, in spite of the forces trying to hold back progress. The happiness comes from the conviction that innovation and opportunity always win out, even if it takes longer than it should.

Two years ago, I expanded on that to discuss the power of innovation and creativity to build out that optimism. I talked about a bunch of examples of folks who totally understood the power of what was happening thanks to innovation, and were embracing the tools creatively — and spreading joy, even as others chose to freak out and complain.

Last year, the discussion was, once again, about why we should be both optimistic about the power of innovation, but frustrated about that which got in the way of its progress. You’ll notice this is a running theme. Be happy about the power of change, but be frustrated that the rate of such change isn’t as rapid as it should be.

This year has proven to be really quite an incredible one for those of us who believe in the power of innovation and who, while frustrated with the pace and with those who seek to block it, believe that over time you can’t stop that innovation. The key element this year: the power of large groups of people to make use of the technology to start to say, “No!” to those who have sought to hold back progress. Of course, not all of these efforts will succeed, but the ability of people to speak up and actually make a difference is being seen all over the world these days — and that power is only going to grow, not shrink. And that’s something to be tremendously optimistic and happy about.

For years, when I’d complain about this or that industry seeking to impede progress, some critics would argue, “well, why don’t you go change things!” In the past, you could only change things by becoming powerful — and for most individuals, that was impossible. But what we’ve seen (over the last year especially) is that a new wave of change can spread by individuals coming together and doing something amazing as a group. It’s tremendously inspiring in all sorts of ways, and I can’t wait to see how more and more people learn to harness communication technologies and new services to make very real differences in the world that were impossible to even imagine just a few years ago.

We live in an exciting time, full of amazing opportunities. We can (and should) worry about those who fear where things are going and seek to impede this journey, but we should also be comfortable in the knowledge that we know how this story goes. Innovation and opportunity find a way.

Once again, a huge thank you to everyone who makes up the Techdirt community. We’ve grown quite a bit in the last year (our traffic has doubled in just the last six months). Beyond covering some amazing stories, we’ve had some fascinating and educational discussions and experiences. We’ve been working hard to do more for the community — including new stories, new tools and new services, many of which we’ll start to roll out in the next few months, so stay tuned. But, most of all, from all of us who do this all day, every day, it’s been a real pleasure having this ongoing discussion each and every day.

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