Andrew L. Russell is co-author, with Lee Vinsel, of THE INNOVATION DELUSION: HOW OUR OBSESSION WITH THE NEW DISRUPTS THE WORK THAT MATTERS MOST (Currency, 2020). Russell is the Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Utica and Albany, New York.  He is the author of several books and articles on the history of technology and the emergence of the Internet, including OPEN STANDARDS AND THE DIGITAL AGE: HISTORY, IDEOLOGY, AND NETWORKS (Cambridge, 2014). His work has appeared in The New York Times, Aeon, The Washington Post, The American Historical Review, and many other scholarly and popular publications.

Speech topics

The Maintenance Mindset

The most successful technologies are those that can be sustained over the long term—just think about machines and buildings that last for generations. The best way leaders can ensure long-term success is to embrace a maintenance mindset. Using examples from successful companies, I’ll explain how maintenance sustains success, why long-term perspectives depend on culture and management, and how creativity and constant improvement can support the goals of durability, sustainability, and reliability. 

The Costs of Innovation-Speak

Actual innovation is the introduction of profit-generating technologies or products, and it’s often a good thing: just think about antibiotics or electric vehicles. But innovation-speak is a sales pitch, mostly empty jargon that degrades actual innovation by turning that term into an overused buzzword. In this talk I’ll describe the harms of innovation-speak: it’s dishonest, it’s distracting, and it actively devalues the work of most humans who keep our society running. And I’ll illustrate how leaders can adopt other ways of talking and thinking that balances innovation with other essential values. 

The Past, Present, and Future the Internet

Monopolistic corporations, international competition, government regulation, and user concerns over security and privacy: believe it or not, these were the central issues of debates about computer networks in the 1970s. These are the same problems that we’re facing in the 2020s, and they seem destined to stick with us for years to come. This talk, built on decades of historical and policy research, uses the history of the Internet as a starting point for understanding the challenges that we face today, and the future possibilities that are within our grasp. 

Recovering from COVID through Long-Term Thinking

Americans have had enough “disruption” in their lives, including a pandemic that has upended everything. It’s time to reassess priorities in business politics, education, and even in our personal lives. As we recover from the terrible effects of COVID-19, and recognize the contributions of essential workers, we have an opportunity to build a more sustainable and equitable society. The first steps are to take stock of the elements of our society that are broken and embrace the value of long-term thinking. 


The Innovation Delusion: How Our Obsession with the New Has Disrupted the Work That Matters Most

Innovation is the hottest buzzword in business. But what if our obsession with finding the next big thing has distracted us from the work that matters most

Open Standards and the Digital Age: History, Ideology, and Networks

How did openness become a foundational value for the networks of the twenty-first century? Open Standards and the Digital Age answers this question through an interdisciplinary history of information networks that pays close attention to the politics of standardization. 

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