Author Walter Isaacson discusses his latest book in Edwards lecture | AspenTimes.com

Author Walter Isaacson discusses his latest book in Edwards lecture

Anne Todd
Special to the Daily
Author Walter Isaacson speaks Monday evening at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards. Isaacson partnered with the Roaring Fork CMC campus to open the Isaacson School for New Media.
Matt Suby | Special to the Daily |

EDWARDS — What do Steve Jobs, Alan Turing and Ada Lovelace all have in common? They proved to be innovators in the world of technology and were also the subjects of author Walter Isaacson’s lecture “Lessons of Innovators” at Colorado Mountain College in Edwards on Monday.

As part of CMC’s “The Women in Philanthropy Distinguished Lecture Series,” Isaacson discussed his latest book, “The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.”

As well as being a bestselling non-fiction author, Isaacson is also the current CEO of the Aspen Institute and was the former editor of Time Magazine.

Throughout the night, Isaacson talked about how important collaboration was for the success of technological innovation.

“Teamwork is ingrained in tech products,” Isaacson said.

He used the example of the Internet. He told the story of 30 graduate students working at the Pentagon who helped designed ARPANet. One student wanted to make the Internet more inclusive. Eventually he was able to make sure everybody had a say in what it would become.

“The Internet has no central authority,” Isaacson said. “Everybody is equally important.”

The Internet creates the possibility to be a bottom-up collaborator, and it is able to distribute the information to everybody, Isaacson said.

Isaacson also stressed the importance of women in technology. He spoke of the team of six female programmers who designed the first computer. But before they could program the first computer, they needed a computing framework.

This framework was designed by Ada Lovelace in the 1830s. She published a paper how the creativity of humans in technology would make more jobs in the future. This paper helped create the first computer 100 years later.

“She believed in the magic of the connection of technology to the humanities,” Isaacson said. “The creativity of humans is magnified by the technology.”

These women used Lovelace’s framework and their mathematic skills to write the first computer programs. They proved to have the innovation and collaboration needed to jump start the technological revolution.

Isaacson explained that most innovators have three virtues. Innovators have passion like Steve Jobs who wanted to make the best product out there. They possess a curiosity for the world that drives them such as Albert Einstein. Finally, they are inclusive like Benjamin Franklin, who wanted to make sure everybody had a chance to learn.

“Everybody can be a part of the next wave of innovation,” Isaacson said.

With his history in media, it comes as no surprise that Isaacson partnered with the Roaring Fork CMC campus and opened the Isaacson School for New Media. The school offers degrees in new print media including digital journalism and graphic design.

All the proceeds from the lecture series will go towards funding future CMC students through scholarships. New programs at the Edwards campus will also receive funds.

And for Isaacson, he can see no better way to use the funds,

“If we don’t support community colleges and make sure everybody has the chance, we’re not going to be as innovative in the 21st century as we were in the 20th century.”

Anne Todd is an intern for the Vail Daily.


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