Saturday, June 03, 2006

James Martin

Following my previous post on IT Trends, I should put in a plug for my former employer James Martin, who established an impressive position as an IT guru from the late 1970s onwards, not only forecasting trends but making them happen. (I worked for James Martin Associates from 1986. The Information Engineering part of the company was acquired by Texas Instruments Software in 1991.)

Jim has given generously to his old university (Oxford). Following the establishment of the James Martin Institute in 2004, he has now established the James Martin 21st Century School. He will be talking about his philanthropy on the BBC Radio4 In Business programme. (June 8th 20:30 GMT+1, repeated June 11th 21:30 GMT+1).

[Update] Programme details here. Listen here. Download MP3 here (until June 15th).

I made a comment in my previous post based on Isaiah Berlin's distinction between the Fox and the Hedgehog, suggesting that trying to distill IT trends down to three big ones was the act of a Hedgehog. Jim certainly did a fair amount of this, identifying some big trends and issues, although his popular (and exhausting) five-day seminar included a lot more than that.

But I was intrigued by the research agenda of the 21st Century School, which seems to be either the work of a Fox, or the work of a committee of Hedgehogs. Environmental problems – Extreme inequalities in wealth – World population growth and distribution – Global food shortages – Rapid technological change – Changes in the biological make–up of the human body – Forms of outright warfare or internecine armed conflict – and all kinds of other historically recurring risks.

All important problems - and all credit to Jim and Oxford University for providing space for tackling them.

[Update] See also Sam Palmisano and James Martin on the Globally Integrated Enterprise.


James Martin, technologist, methodologist, entrepreneur and philanthropist died Monday 24 June 2013 aged 79. See James Martin - a personal reflection by David Sprott (28 June 2013)

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