- Symposium on Cultural Considerations in Alternative-Energy Transfer
This final issue of Comparative Technology Transfer and Society begins with the "Symposium on Cultural Considerations in Alternative-Energy Transfer." For the introduction to the symposium articles, see Introduction to the Symposium: Cultural Considerations in Alternative-Energy Transfer by John C. Pierce and Brent S. Steel.
It remains one of the paradoxes of technological diffusion that while efforts to encourage specific developments are not always successful, attempts to restrict the movement of technology and ideas are equally problematic. The cold war produced what appeared to be highly rigid boundaries between east and west in Europe, and the military competition between the two superpowers and their blocs of nations seemed to enforce the rationale for tightly restricting the movement of technology across that geopolitical divide. Computing technology was one of the areas consistently identified by Western nations as not open to transfer. Given this situation, the article by Petri Paju (University of Turku, Finland) and Helena Durnová (Brno University of Technology, Czech Republic) provides a fine case study of the impact of efforts to limit the movement of computing technology. But perhaps more important is the way their article Computing Close to the Iron Curtain: Inter/national Computing Practices in Czechoslovakia and Finland, 1945-1970 helps us to understand the influence of national culture on the development of this area of technical knowledge. From the outset, the editors of this journal adopted as a premise that social, political, economic, and cultural considerations determine the outcome of most instances of technology transfer. What Paju and Durnová provide us is a chance to see how, because of the artificial blockage of the movement of computer hardware, different cultures can shape different technical solutions when some avenues of development are foreclosed. Moreover, the authors also argue that the emergence of technical ideas could and did shape the political climates in these countries. Comparing the courses of technical and scientific development in Czechoslovakia and Finland, which stood outside the main orbit of the cold war giants but were hardly technologically backward, provides an intriguing insight into both the specifics of technical development during the cold war and the general patterns of technical innovation. [End Page vii]
In the December 2008 issue of CTTS, Donald Klingner and Peter Hugill introduced the symposium topic of human migration as an instance of technology transfer and diffusion. Our desire was to stretch the box a bit by bringing into view the movement of people more than the movement of devices or knowledge. Historical studies have shown that, in many instances, the presence of skilled and knowledgeable individuals is the most important element in the successful adoption and adaptation of knowledge and technology from outside a culture. But how, we wondered, does human migration fit into this story? In part 1 of the symposium (December 2008), authors explored training, networking, and exchanges; in part 2 (April 2009), additional articles examined skilled migration.
With Kathrine Richardson's article, we continue the discussion of skilled migration while bringing to a close this symposium topic. In her article titled What Lures and Retains the International Creative-Class Family? A Case Study of the Family Unit Found in Vancouver's Biotechnology Sector, Richardson broadens the conversation significantly by opening to view the place of family considerations in the movement of highly skilled individuals in business, science, engineering, and technology. A geographer influenced by the work of Richard Florida and others who have explored how and why some places in the world became dynamic centers of high-tech growth and innovation, Richardson focuses most closely on the case of international creative-class families (ICCFs) in Vancouver, British Columbia's high-tech firms. Her work suggests the value of examining not only highly skilled mobile individuals, but also mobile families. Indeed, Richardson extends Florida's work about the reasons that some cities and locales have become centers of growth by highlighting the factors that are attractive to their families, such as good public schools for children and policies that allow for spouses to seek professional employment. Vancouver may provide an almost perfect setting for developing these ideas, because of...