Innovation’s arc

Following up on my recent WSJ piece on how the path of innovation seems to follow the path of our own desires — toward, recently, “tools of the self” — here is an interview I did yesterday with Jian Ghomeshi on CBC Radio’s Q show.

3 thoughts on “Innovation’s arc

  1. Tom Lord

    One way to slice that cake is to ask: “Of the innovations getting VC funding in field X, how much time and effort was put into creating the innovations per dollar? How has this ratio changed over time and why?”

    In, say, the early 1990s we were seeing investment in software that took man years to develop and today the ideal seems often to be software that someone literally thought up over the weekend at the Internet cafe down the street.

    One thing that changed for investors is that the ‘net and platforms like app stores radically changed the sales problem. Formerly, a software innovation would be sold relatively few times for relatively large money. Now it’s more common to sell software innovations zillions of times for almost no money.

    Any trivial thing that can attract zillions in casual interest can make bank — so investment and hence innovation drifts in that direction, towards the popular trivial.

    I don’t think you can just pin it on hoi poloi being sated in their base needs and thus shifting attention towards technologies of the self. For, these trivial innovations flooding the market wouldn’t exist as they are, wouldn’t have that economically dominant role, were it not for a few projects that *did* take man years of effort — to build platforms for this kind of “innovation” (e.g., FB, iPhone, etc.). That is, in large part, the trivializing of US innovation in software at least is being driven by the deeper plays of those who want to be the market makers in this area. Bread and circuses (and all highly dependent on suppressing software freedom, by the way).

  2. bolano

    It sounds like you’re blaming the victim in your radio interview. Have you ever heard of ideology? The ‘decadent’ public who in your opininion should be demanding a differant kind of innovation are subjected to ideology and propaganda, that shapes them from head to toe. Bourgeois liberal ideology is the ideology of ‘self’ and self obsession and it shapes the ‘masses’. The masses or the public do not shape the ideologists…

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