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Mass Innovation and Disruptive Change

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the look-to-the-internets-for-inspiration dept.

194

bart_scriv writes "The new head of MIT's Media lab argues that societal advances, previously the domain of a small group of individuals, will now become the product of millions of people due to changes in education and technology. He also offers advice to would be start-ups and entrepreneurs, including an argument against instrumentalism: 'The successful will look for fundamental disruptive change.'" There sure do seem to be a lot of creative people doing projects on the web today. What do you folks think of this?

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agree (0, Redundant)

mycall (802802) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898885)

100% affirmative. yuppers. how could I argue the change the internet has and will make. really, how could one argue?

Re:agree (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898975)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instrumentalism [wikipedia.org]
In the philosophy of science, instrumentalism is the view that concepts and theories are merely useful instruments whose worth is measured not by whether the concepts and theories are true or false (or correctly depict reality), but how effective they are in explaining and predicting phenomena
...
Instrumentalism denies that theories are truth-evaluable, and that they should be treated like a black box into which you feed observed data, and through which you produce observable predictions.

...

In the philosophy of mind, instrumentalism is the view that propositional attitudes such as belief are not concepts on which we can base scientific investigations of the mind and brain, but that acting as if other beings do have beliefs is often a successful strategy. For example, acting as if the chess playing computer has the belief that taking the queen will give it a significant advantage is a successful strategy, despite the fact that few people would argue simple electronics devices have beliefs as we normally think of them.

/I Usually think philosophy is the equivalent of mental wankery

Re:agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14899054)

You're right. The internet has cured cancer, solved hunger, and brought peace to the world. Oh, wait...

Re:agree (1)

weierstrass (669421) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899128)

me too!

Re:agree (1)

rifftide (679288) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899368)

Yeah, my initial reaction on the teaser was "duhhh... gee, d'ya think the big tech IPOs of the future will be the disruptive startups?" Moss has a great track record though. And the Media Lab needed a change - Negroponte had some great ideas about digital TV, computer animation and so forth, but it was time for fresh blood at the top. Hopefully Moss will stick around long enough to leave a mark, he'll certainly be tempted by offers from VCs to take over their startups.

I'd like more information on this (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898889)

Please call me at 219-274-1903.

Re:I'd like more information on this (0, Offtopic)

mycall (802802) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898926)

is that really your ph # or is it aunt Sally?

Well (3, Insightful)

AoT (107216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898897)

As much as I hate the term, blogs seem to be an opening manifestation of this. Just like there are a whole lot of people out there who can write but, up til now have had no method of publishing, there are a lot of really amazing ideas out there that just plain never get heard or implemented. Open source has changed that a bit, but I expect it to start snowballing sooner rather than later.

Re:Well (3, Funny)

Bloke down the pub (861787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899044)

As much as I hate the term, blogs seem to be an opening manifestation of this.
I'm right there with you. Seeing "manifestation" every five minutes gets on my nerves too.

Re:Well (3, Interesting)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899050)

Yes, I believe we're at the early stages of adopting the internet. Kids already know how to use the internet better than their parents. As people grow up using the internet there will be extrodinary breakthroughs of capabilities. Currently, there are only 1 billion (of the total 6 billion people on the planet) that use the internet. Almost all these people have dial up connections and are still relativly inexperienced. The don't read Slashdot or digg.com or go to flickr.com or myspace. They don't have a blog at blogspot. Imagine when we have 6 billion people with high speed connections that do all these things and more. The impacts on society will be incredible and this WILL happen.

Wake up from your dream. (0, Flamebait)

elucido (870205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899253)

This is not going to happen. Many people believe that the world is way over populated, and you go on to say that because we have 6 billion people that we can afford, energywise, to put them all online? Be realitic.

While I don't know what will happen in the future, it looks like we don't have 6 billion jobs, and with computers coming, I don't think we will ever have 6 billion jobs. Computers and AI, thise reduces jobs, the machines replace people and replace jobs. So what is your point? What do we need these 6 billion people for? When you can figure this out then post.

Re:Wake up from your dream. (1)

digitallife (805599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899279)

As technology makes some jobs obselete, it opens up the door for many other jobs. The problem seems to me to be that people can't adjust to change very well. There is absolutely no reason why all 6B people can't be doing constructive things and getting paid a reasonable amount for their efforts, it's really a matter of figuring out how to organize such a change. Available resources is a consideration, but it is obviously possible for the earth to support 6B people. As technology increases it becomes ever easier to support that number.

I really don't see any major reason why everyone couldn't be connected to the internet, if that route is pursued. Of course, it may not occur, only time will tell.

Medium (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14899561)

Once connected to the internet, people are only a growth medium for the reproduction of ideas.

Once the ideas were spread by word of mouth, very slowly. Methods for transferring ideas faster came out, but they were largely one-way. The result is that certain ideas were able to dominate others simply because they were the sorts of ideas that appealed to publishers or television producers.

Now everyone can pass their ideas back and forth very quickly. You put your idea about people being useless up, I respond by saying that people are raw intellectual material. Millions of these interactions a day allow us to transform culture at a lightning pace. A list of 80s fads and a list of the fads of the past two years would probably be about the same length.

It's hard to say for sure that this increase in thinking and the universality of this communication will have any concrete benefit, but in the past every step in this direction has been significant.

As for jobs, once the computers fully replace people for the purposes of work, we won't have to work anymore at all. This seems obvious, but many people miss it. The major issue is the painful transition when some people still have jobs and others have been replaced.

You are delusional. (2, Interesting)

elucido (870205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899129)

The more disruption you do with this technology, the more laws will be created to reverse the disruption. You can have any technology you want, and it's not going to change that fact that unless the internet promotes conservative values, and respects the fact that people don't want disruption, then the result will be a less free internet.

If your goal is to have more freedom, you'll want to govern the internet properly yourself, otherwise the internet will be governed the way everything else is governed. There was once a time when television and radio was open like this too, there was a time when technology was like this in many industries, but when a technology is free and people abuse this freedom to "disrupt" and act as activists, the result is that the technology itself becomes the enemy.

I think this is a mistake. I don't think MIT has the ability to create laws which govern the internet, and honestly I don't think any of these will matter. All of this disruptive technology will be worthless, and it will simply piss people off.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14899328)

I expect it to start snowballing sooner rather than later.

in the clerks sense?

The masses WILL innovate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898898)


but it will be the corporations who will lock it away with patents, and create laws designed to suppress the advances, even the US gov has passed over 1000! laws [yahoo.com] since 2001 restricting you from getting goverment information, you think the corps will stand by while you innovate them out of business ?

there is a revolution coming, its just not a technical one

Re:The masses WILL innovate (2, Insightful)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898962)

I agree. Money will be an important factor in this as A) not being wealthy makes it hard to innovate and B) those with wealth will use it to keep the market and legal system working to their advantage. Eventually this dam will break but it'll take a while. Decades probably.

As always, big business and big government is the enemy of innovation.

Re:The masses WILL innovate (3, Insightful)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899009)

You noted "A) not being wealthy makes it hard to innovate".

I hasten to dissagree.

MIT is concerned with astonishingly advanced innovation, but that is the rarest form of innovation.

Most innovation is in smaller products with more creative thought processes using existing technology, than in creating whole new technologies. Thes smaller products and projects can often easily be something a person or two do and create a 10-50 million dollar company.

Lots of examples exist, but they really don't get the headlines, as the pizzazz is not there for news orgs.

Re:The masses WILL innovate (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899147)

Is it still innovation if your innovation never gets used by anybody? I innovate ideas daily but I don't have the money to get 99.9% of them out there while I watch wealthy companies continue to put out crap products that lack innovation. Innovations nobody knows about may as well not exist for all the difference it makes.

It takes more than just innovation (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899205)

I innovate, you innovate, we all innovate. Most of us here at Slashdot are intelligent. That is not the point. The point is, innovation and intelligence is useless if you don't give your ideas to the right people, and have access to people who have the money to fund your ideas. You could have the greatest most profitable idea in the last 100 years, and it will be useless because you don't have anyone to give the idea to, while someone else who happens to have a rich cousin, who who happens to know the CEO of IBM, might be able to take their idea to the right people and be given access to the kinds of capital required to start a business.

Ideas and capital are not always one in the same. Businesses are started on capital, not on ideas. I don't know if anyone here has taken an economics course, but ideas can be purshased, while capital has to be found.

Re:It takes more than just innovation (2, Insightful)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899276)

Exactly. If you don't have money your innovations aren't going to go anywhere and that kills the vast majority of innovation before it has the chance to do anything for anybody. Sure if you work 100 hours a week and get out there and really sale your idea you can get somewhere with just a good idea but most people can't do that. So great ideas die on the vine.

You either need money or need to know someone with money or just happen to get lucky to get those innovations to go somewhere. Given $50,000 to work with I could return at least $500,000 within the year just from minor innovations I have but getting that start-up capital is the hard part. Seed investments are always possible but take a lot of effort in itself which takes away from the time you can spend on your innovation. The best plan is to find a friend with some business savvy to partner with you and let them work on your investment money while you work on the tech but that means finding the right person for that role still.

Re:It takes more than just innovation (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899481)

"Given $50,000 to work with I could return at least $500,000 within the year ..." With such profit promise, coupled with a hard nosed business plan (just your hours)) there are all sorts of VC's, angel investors, and family members who would step up to fund a 10/1 deal. I have done them myself, and there is always more work to it than initially surmised. Sales costs are often not evaluated honestly and completely for their scope and true costs, which often exceed all the other costs combined, in a lot of hard products.

Re:The masses WILL innovate (1)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899577)

Is it still innovation if your innovation never gets used by anybody?
I invented a device to warn people if trees were falling in forests. It never caught on, because nobody heard about it.

I do not concur (1)

sentientbrendan (316150) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899047)

You are almost guaranteed to *become* wealthy in our society if you are genuinely smart and hardworking, and of course, if they care about such things. When I say something like this, people often get a little pissy and say something like, "how come *I'm* not wealthy then." Heh... well... funny story behind that.

Now if it were only easier for smart people to get laid... Since smart people can get money fairly easily, and a lot of people would trade just about anything for enough money... perhaps some mechanism for trading money for sex could be developed? Then *everyone* would be happy. This is all just speculation.

Bog business and big government fund a lot of the innovation in our society... I would direct your attention to the glowing block sitting in front of your face, and the internet it is connected to.

That's not to say that individuals aren't the *most* important factors in innovation. You need smart people. It is just my experience that smart people either get government funding, or start their own business.

Ok are you serious? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899186)

Wealth has little to do with intelligence and hard work. Yes it takes intelligence and hard work to be successful at anything, but being wealth takes instinct, the abiltiy to organize yourself and others, the ability to plan and have a strategy, and the social skills to have the friendships and connections you require to actually put plans into action.

Wealth is anything but guarenteed, and if wealth were guarenteed then we'd have a lot more wealthy people than we have. Wealth is not guarenteed, nor is it supposed to be. Wealth is something which we compete for, on every level, and this does not just mean on the level of academics. Going to MIT does not guarentee you'll become as rich as Bill Gates. Many models and movie stars become wealthy with no intelligence at all. Many people win the lottery. Many people become wealth on instinct, they just know how to make money. Many people become wealthy because they know how to take what they want and ask for what they don't really need. Then you have the rare few, who actually study their way to wealthy, impressing their boss, and asking for raises until slowly they get given wealth.

If you have learned anything outside the classroom, it's that wealth is not something you get by just asking for it. Everyone wants wealth, and only a few people get it. Millions of intelligent people never become billionaires, and chances are you won't either.

Re:I do not concur (2)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899214)

You may become wealthy if you start off at least middle class or work for years towards that goal but meanwhile you have to struggle so that many innovations that could have been are wasted. If you're struggling to feed yourself and keep a roof over your head you're not going to have much time and money to produce wonderful new things.

I'm the kind of person, ie a geek, that produces innovations with nearly every breath almost none of them are getting to people because of lack of time and money. I'm improving as I've dragged myself up to lower middle class and therefore have more time and money than I used to but I don't have nearly as many good ideas as I did when I was younger. If I'd had a sponsor back then I could have changed the world. Now I'd just be happy to make it to upper middle class, raise my family, make a couple minor contributions to the world, and die a somewhat defeated man.

Sex is bad. Before I discovered girls I was much more innovative. Before I got caught in the expense of a significant other and all that goes with that (house, kids, pets, yada yada yada) I could pour a lot more of my limited resources into innovation. I think there is a good reason great innovators aren't often family men. Save yourself and just hang out with the $20 whores in Tijuana instead. ;)

Re:I do not concur (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899584)

You are almost guaranteed to *become* wealthy in our society if you are genuinely smart and hardworking
I've got the 1970s on the other line... something about the balance between labour and capital.

What makes you think innovation is good? (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899245)

Why do you assume innovation is good and big business is bad?
Innovation can be bad and big business can be good, it certainly depends on the businesses and innovations we are talking about here.

Innovation is good or bad, big business is good or bad. What matters is profits, if your innovation is profitable, it will create big businesses, and it will make many people rich, this is good. If your business and innovation sucks then it will be small, and this is bad.

IBM is a big business, and because of IBM you have the open source movement. Google is a big business, and because of Google, Firefox is being funded. Microsoft is a big business, and because of Microsoft we have the Xbox and PC gaming. What is more important is how profitable these big businesses are, and how many jobs they provide. If they provide you with a job, or with stock, then big businesses is good. If they won't hire you and they arent selling stock, then we have something to debate. I suggest you just buy stock in the big businesses. Buy stock in Microsoft and Google, buy stock in IBM, buy stock in all the big businesses that profit.

Re:What makes you think innovation is good? (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899300)

Umm. I had the open source movement long before IBM started contributing. It's not that IBM is bad but they are milking open source for their own benefit and not vice versa. Google likewise. They are contributing, which is good, but they're buying the innovation they need for their own purpose by contributing.

A job and stock are fine but they aren't going to make the world a better place. They maintain the status quo. Innovation is needed to improve the human condition and improving the human condition is the only way for the species to survive over time as, as with anything, maintaining the status quo is really a slow decent towards failure.

Innovation is evolution at work. Evolution sucks for those that get replaced but in the long run it is the key to survival.

A lot of creative people (5, Insightful)

gkuz (706134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898900)

There sure do seem to be a lot of creative people doing projects on the web today. What do you folks think of this?

Seems to me they're far outnumbered by the un-creative people.

Concepts like "good design" and "good programming" are skills that take training, practice and work. Woodworking tools are cheap, ubiquitous and far more capable than what was available 20, 40 or 60 years ago. Where are all the people building beautiful, elegant and functional furniture?

Re:A lot of creative people (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898915)

In China.

Re:A lot of creative people (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899605)

beautiful, elegant, functional.

You seem to have , ummm, interesting definitions for at least two of those words.

Re:A lot of creative people (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898955)

Woodworking tools are cheap, ubiquitous and far more capable than what was available 20, 40 or 60 years ago.

Well, with the possible exception of the power router I might argue with this, but I think I'll just restrain myself to the opinion that musical composition would be a better example.

Nowadays you don't even have to bother learning to play even a simple instrument to compose. Just type some ABC notation (plain, tagfree ASCII text) into a computer and let the computer convert it to midi.

Anyone can compose now, with only a few minutes of "training," and much of the music sounds like it.

The tool might very well do the work, but it doesn't know the job.

KFG

Re:A lot of creative people (1)

gkuz (706134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899498)

Well, with the possible exception of the power router I might argue with this

Biscuit joiners? Laser-guided compound miter saws?

But you're right, the analogy was strained, and the music-composition case would have been a much better one with which to lead. What cost Frank Zappa tens (maybe hundreds) of thousands of dollars in the 1980's can be had by any interested amateur today. Where are all the musical geniuses?

Re:A lot of creative people (1)

fossa (212602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899011)

Woodworking tools require money and, more importantly, space.

Re:A lot of creative people (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899013)

Computers aren't exactly free either, and while you can get small form factor ones (eg laptops), my desk is fairly large...

Re:A lot of creative people (1)

fossa (212602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899055)

True, but a table saw, band saw, workbecnch, etc, take up significantly more space, especially considering the sawdust that makes a workshop incompatible with a living room space unlike a computer. As somone living in an apartment but wanting a workshop, this is a bit frustrating.

Re:A lot of creative people (2, Insightful)

OwnedByTwoCats (124103) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899071)

I have a late-1930s drill press in my basement. Purchased by my great-grandfather. Almost 70 years old. I replaced the power cord, and need to investigate why the return spring doesn't work; it may need replacing as well.

A modern drill press is only a tiny bit more capable; I have to move a belt across pulleys to change its speed, while modern ones have electronic speed controls.

The story is the same for lathes. Table saws have seen little change; they're not even variable speed.

Woodworking tools are far cheaper than they were 20, 40, 60, or 80 years back. And some new types of tools have made some operations far easier (biscuit joiner, power miter saws). But the rest of it is still shaping wood with precision, and that takes time and skill and practice.

Changes in the IT world have been far more dramatic.

Re:A lot of creative people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14899101)

where are they? writting bad java code probably... ;P

Re:A lot of creative people (1)

bitspotter (455598) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899323)

Yes. You, also, are correct.

There IS a lot of noise along with signal. The point of signal is that it outlasts noise. This is how natural selection works; the more variation you can get, the more fitness you can squeeze out of the patterns.

Is it so hard to believe that there aren't lots of private carpenters who've benefitted from the steady decline of carpentry tool prices? Yes, there are a lot of bad amateurs, there too, but, just like the web, there are probably many highly skilled craftsman who would otherwise be unable to create unless they worked for Ikea.

The analogy is stressed, because the costs of carpentry tools are large compared to the creative web works, but I think it holds.

Re:A lot of creative people (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899621)

Where are all the people building beautiful, elegant and functional furniture?

Did you check Google [google.com] ?

That's funny (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898910)

The new head of MIT's Media lab argues that societal advances, previously the domain of a small group of individuals, will now become the product of millions of people due to changes in education and technology.

That's funny... because it seems to me that in the last 20 years education has only gotten worse and worse.

The head of MIT's Media lab is himself specifically in that small group of individuals that is traditionally associated with societal change. And moreover he's buried far enough inside that group that I don't think he can see that America's educational infrastructure outside MIT is just plain crumbling to the point where the group of individuals equipped to change the world (or at least America) is if anything shrinking...

Re:That's funny (2, Insightful)

ChrisGilliard (913445) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899065)

Traditional elementry and high school education has suffered in recent years. You're right about this. But, college education has improved greatly. Also, professional certifications have improved. Think about all the people going to Junior colleges now to take classes. Like other areas, education is changing. Also, a lot of learning is done online. For instance, I learned css by searching on Google the other day. I've learned about many many topics by reading Wikipedia.org. Education is changing and traditional schools are not keeping up.

Re:That's funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14899118)

College education may or may not be improving.

Certainly /access/ to college education seems to be improving.

But as American K-12 education becomes more about memorizing and less about reasoning, the pressure on colleges is to provide more and more of the remedial stuff -- the sorts of skills young people should have learned in high school -- and it's anything but obvious that this "push back" of basic skills into college is a winning idea.

FWIW, I am a professor at a small college, so my perspective is somewhat biased. Most of my /seniors/ in Software Engineering have what I consider 9th-grade writing and algebra skills.

Re:That's funny (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14899215)

I am not sure I would agree with this. I just got out of a major state college with a degree on a technical subject, and I found that if anything the college more frequently resembled a vocational school than a place of higher education. I do not know if my experience is common but it seems to me higher education is becoming vocational school.

Most of the classes offered, and almost all of the classes offered in the first two years of the degree plan (this being important because many of the students dropped out after two years) were just about basic competency in the career field. Higher-level materials-- the kind of thing that really equip someone to deeply understand their field and be equipped to seriously drive innovation-- were offered but rarely made use of.

I was one of the few people in my class who chose to take that extra step, take advantage of the research program, and take advantage of higher-level rather than just vocational classes. I found it personally rewarding, but I also tended to notice as I did so that there were no incentives other than personal reward. The college made no effort to encourage people to learn rather than just complete the degree plan, and if anything put obstacles in the way of people wanting to maximize what they took away from college: When a student is faced with the choice of taking an easy, blowoff class or a hard, worthwhile class, the student knows that if they take the harder class they will get out with a lower grade despite having done more work and learned more. Since both the college, and the employers that the college is preparing the students for, care only about those simple grades and nothing at all of what those classes were or what you took away from them, this means students are constantly under a real and serious pressure to underachieve and take the easy, meaningless As. A student who wants to actually meaningfully learn in college, meanwhile, will generally have to knowingly sacrifice GPA in order to do so.

I could not help but conclude that if there were something different, either within the college or in society, that made actually learning something which people considered valued-- instead of a value system which results in a college experience which is all about preparing for the workforce and what that GPA score is-- I would have seen a lot more of my fellow students choosing to take the cutting-edge or research path within my major which I had to go out of my way to take. As it was, the college discouraged students from wanting to learn, rather than encouraged, and many of my classmates escaped college with an education that was largely on paper and a skillset which was comparable to someone who had simply gained four years of work experience during that period.

I don't call this progress. We are churning out many more graduates in critical and technical fields than we used to, this is true. But of what value is the education these people are getting?

Re:That's funny (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899104)

That's funny... because it seems to me that in the last 20 years education has only gotten worse and worse.

My daughter's school is noticably better than in my day. Anyhow, I don't think school matters much in the US, to be frank. School tends to focus on physical concepts. The "physical economy" has been offshored for the most part because it is cheaper to do it there. The nuts and bolts are overseas.

Concepts such as ebay are essentially social ideas. Social ideas are where the innovation tends to come from of late. Partying and schmoozing is where you get those, not from books about icosolese triangles.

The US is the marketing capital of the world because we are the biggest consumers. Thus, we understand fads and marketing gimmicks and provide the best place to test them.

Physical is so 80's. I'm just the messenger.
       

Re:That's funny (2, Insightful)

Stalyn (662) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899116)

So you're saying the US is one giant consumer herd. And those who can manipulate the herd the best will be the most successful. Sounds about right.

Re:That's funny (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899165)

So you're saying the US is one giant consumer herd. And those who can manipulate the herd the best will be the most successful. Sounds about right.

Not one giant heard, but many. Because of immigration and ad saturation, we are a fairly diverse test-bed for new marketing ideas. The best marketers hone there skills here and then export their gimmicks for profit, enough of it which flows back into our economy.

After all, who historically makes the biggest bucks: the inventors or the exploiters of the inventions?
             

True (4, Interesting)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898912)

Right now we are going through another bubble I think with venture capital. Too many stupid ideas are getting funded. It pains me to see these new Ajax sites launched every day and to spend five seconds looking at them and know they have no chance of ever succeeding. At least they fail cheaply.

I think the bottleneck right now is much more on the creativity and business side than it is on the hardware/software side. If you want to be a tech entrepreneur than learn business skills, you can always find someone to help you with hardware and software. Of course you need to understand what is possible, be able to tell the difference between a good and bad programmer, etc.

Re:True (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899067)

Right now we are going through another bubble I think with venture capital. Too many stupid ideas are getting funded.

Because of the pro-rich administration, the wealthy have too much money these days (perhaps at our expense) and so are using their spare money to go out on investment limbs.

Generally good investors split their investments into 3 groups: Safe but slow-growth, medium, and high-risk. The high-risk end is essentially gambling money (but hopefully with better odds than Vegas). Thus, if you have 5 billion dollars to invest, you may decide to put 500 million into pie-in-sky startups, hoping you'll catch the next ebay.
     

Re:True (1)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899369)

As the old saying goes, you aren't a real venture capitalist until you lose your first 20 million.

He can't be serious... (3, Interesting)

fremen (33537) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898930)

Isn't this coming from the director of the laboratory whose only successful prodcut is a glowing green ball that changes colors with the stock market? [ambientdevices.com]

Seriously, what kind of disruptive innovation has ever come from the MIT Media Lab? Companies have put money in there for years and gotten nothing in return.

By the way, looking for disruptive vs. incremental technology changes is complete and utter nonsense. Entrepreneurs look for where they can make money. There's plenty of money to be made in all kinds of places in our economy, ranging from mom and pop restaurants all the way up to the latest and greatest gizmo. Game changing technology might be interesting or it might not. The road is littered with companies who changed the game and then were crushed by other players.

Money is made with smart market analysis that asks what do people want and how much are they willing to pay. Throw in a way to keep competitors out, and you have the beginnings (but not everything) of a good startup whether you make new fangled ball bearings or web pages. MIT Media Lab not required.

Re:He can't be serious... (2, Insightful)

mycall (802802) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898957)

Re:He can't be serious... (1)

njh (24312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899519)

I just had a look. Yep, I think his point is well illustrated by those pages. The pages aren't even nice to look at or well organised!

Re:He can't be serious... (1)

Saeger (456549) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899037)

Throw in a way to keep competitors out, and you have the beginnings (but not everything) of a good startup

Yeah - hurray for artificial barriers such as DRM, propietary formats and bogus patent bullshit. Call me naive, but openness and actually being better than the competition is the only inclusive tactic I'll reward.

Re:He can't be serious... (2, Insightful)

fremen (33537) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899134)

I'm going to make a comment that is way out there for Slashdot, but I honestly and completely think this is true:

The difference between an "evil" barrier to entry and a "good" barrier to entry is marketing.

Take Google. They have a huge database of webpage information that they've spent millions of dollars gathering. Anyone who wanted to enter the search engine market would have to find an enormous amount of capital and gather those same webpages. Should Google share their internal webpage databases to anyone who asks? Should they be open and let their information be free?

Nonsense! Google has a huge barrier to entry and that's why they practically own the search engine market right now. Google has marketed this barrier well and thus nobody notices or cares that Google has thrived on the backs of an Internet that mostly belongs to other people. They provide a service and they provide it well.

Take Apple. They deploy a DRM system in iTunes and a bazillion people own iPods these days. Nodoby cares that their music is or isn't free. People use their iPods and buy music from iTunes because the whole system is easy to use (a feature people want) and available at the right price (another feature people want). Why are these things so prominent so as to disguise the underlying DRM? Marketing.

The usual Slashdot response to this is that marketing is evil. But I propose that this argument, true or not, is pointless. The majority of people simply don't care. People love their iPods and people love Google.

Re:He can't be serious... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899046)

Isn't this coming from the director of the laboratory whose only successful prodcut is a glowing green ball that changes colors with the stock market? Seriously, what kind of disruptive innovation has ever come from the MIT Media Lab?

If they could make an orb that changes color upon bullshit, they would be zillionaires.

Politician: "Why is my orb always bright orange? I thought it was supposed to change colors?"
         

Re:He can't be serious... (1)

OwnedByTwoCats (124103) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899078)

Didn't MIDI start from a Media-lab project to record timings and velocities of piano keystrokes, and building a machine to play them back?

Re:He can't be serious... (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899462)

The Media lab had nothing to do with MIDI. MIDI was created by the Synthesizer industry.

I think this is a mistake. (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899115)

The goal should NOT be disruptive technology. Disruptive technology will only lead to blowback, as many people will blame the internet, and science for change, and as a result the internet and science will face new laws to control them.

Ultimately, disruptive technologies does harm to the technology and to science itself. If you want to promote science, do so in the right way, promote science in a culturally sensitive way which respects conservative values. If you promote science in an overly disruptive way, all that will be accomplished by this is, well, you'll make technology into the enemy.

Honestly, I like technology, but I don't think you should focus on "disruption" as the goal with technology. Technology can be used to promote order and structure. Technology can be used to enhance security. Technology can be used to promote conservative values. Technology can be used in a non partisan way. The one mistake you don't want to make, if any of you read Linus's last posting, is you don't want to turn science and technology into activism. I think it is a huge mistake to do this. Innovation is good, but innovate in ways which society can accept and not in a way in which you'll make yourself into a tech-activist. If technology and science becomes activism, then how exactly is this good for us internet users? I like technology, but I agree with Linus, activism is not a good idea. Technology must be non partisan.

Re:I think this is a mistake. (0, Troll)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899344)

Honestly, I like technology, but I don't think you should focus on "disruption" as the goal with technology. I think you should focus on producing more technology to do what I want, because my conservative values should override other people's values.

And if I have my own values?

Re:He can't be serious... (3, Insightful)

dubl-u (51156) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899131)

By the way, looking for disruptive vs. incremental technology changes is complete and utter nonsense.

The question there was about attracting funding. In that context, you're completely wrong.

Getting startup funding is about offering 10:1 odds on 100:1 money. Minor, incremental innovations generally don't get you 100:1 money because established players are better placed to take advantage of incremental change than you are. But you can get the advantage with disruptive change because you can be more nimble than a company with a lot of existing procedures and an instinct to defend existing revenue.

Take digital photography as an example. For camera companies it was enough of an incremental change that the big camera companies handled it well enough. But for photo supplies and processing, it was a huge change, allowing the printer companies and all sorts of new players to nab a big chunk of that while Kodak, et al, stood around looking confused. That's why people like Ofoto and Flickr got VC money: they were involved in disruptive innovation.

Re:He can't be serious... (1)

fremen (33537) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899201)

Not every entrepreneur wants or needs VC money. It's entirely possible to find funding for businesses without going to a VC. It's entirely possible to create successful companies with personal equity financing (investing your own money) and debt financing (getting a loan). People do this all the time, and they make great products - some disruptive and some incremental - that make good money.

Going to a VC for capital probably requires a technology with enough growth potential to warrant the associated risk, but not every idea or product requires a VC. A good entrepreneur when and where to find financing.

By the way, there are companies that profitably offer incremental improvements to products from established companies. Take aftermarket car parts for example. You can buy all kinds of stuff to trick out your Honda Civic, but none of the companies involved have anything to do with Honda. These aren't disruptive products, but they're definitely profitable for whoever makes them.

hey! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898934)

dumb it down! i'm whackin' off here!

Disruptive Change (2, Insightful)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898939)

There sure do seem to be a lot of creative people doing projects on the web today. What do you folks think of this?

I think that looking where everyone else is looking is the surest way not to find disruptive change. If you want to invent a disruptive technology, the last place to look is where everyone else is.

Re:Disruptive Change (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899321)

If you want to invent a disruptive technology, the last place to look is where everyone else is.

I tend to agree. What we're really seeing on the web today are frantic attempts at product differentiation. More ways to deliver advertising. More ways to aggregate content from one place on the web into another place. Attempts to turn buy-once technologies into "ongoing revenue streams". Yawn.

If you want to do something "disruptive", look elsewhere than the Internet.

What we really need are some new energy sources. Or at least batteries good enough to make powerful, affordable electric cars.

Consider, say, ultracapacitors [prestostore.com] . Most electrical engineers would have said those were flatly impossible. 2600 farads at 2.7V in 166 x 58mm. Order now. These things are powerful enough to start an auto engine. We need a comparable breakthrough on batteries.

The big issue for the next fifty years is running out of resources. Most young people alive today will live to see the oil and natural gas run out. It's not speculative or alarmist any more. This time it is real. There hasn't been a big, new energy source that made a difference in the last fifty years. That's what's really scary. We're half a century or more into nuclear power, wind turbines, and solar cells. (We're half a century into fusion power, too, and that's not going well.)

What a crock (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898950)

I don't buy his argument. Very few people actually create change in the world. The rest just ride their coat-tails. Smart people are internally motivated - they would succeed in any environment - internet or not. Look at most source projects. Only 1 or 2 people do 99% of the work. All the web brings is a lot of slack-jawed wanna-be gawkers and mediocrity.

Re:What a crock (3, Insightful)

dubl-u (51156) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899187)

I don't buy his argument. Very few people actually create change in the world. The rest just ride their coat-tails. [...] All the web brings is a lot of slack-jawed wanna-be gawkers and mediocrity.

I disagree, on three grounds. First, what the web brings is more of everything, makers and gawkers alike.

Second, innovation is synergistic. The first internet wave was much harder than the current one because we can now share so much more of the boring infrastructure stuff, letting us spend more time on the interesting parts. The software mashup culture is clear proof of that.

And third, creation inspires more creation. A lot of people have blogs because they look at existing blogs and suddenly have something to say. Sure, that means more crap. But it also means that a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't write much are now writing regularly. Some of those people will end up being excellent writers.

That same process happens with software. Go to something like Super Happy Dev House [superhappydevhouse.org] and you'll see what I mean. Seeing 30 people hacking away makes you say, "Wait, why am I not hacking on something?" Before that effect was limited to physical events and places like Boston and the Bay Area, where you have a critical mass. But now the web is its own critical mass. It doesn't make idiots into geniuses, but it does make potential geniuses into actual ones.

The difference is... (1)

C10H14N2 (640033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899247)

...the cost of entrance into that club is less and less having anything to do with possessing a degree from MIT or Stanford.

To expand on your point (4, Insightful)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899306)

A century ago people basically lived in one place their entire lives. Anyone could vouch for you so you didn't need a degree to get a job. Then with the rise of transportation, our new mobility outstripped our identity technology. Thus colleges stepped up as the new middleman to vouch for people. Basically, we regressed from networks back to hierarchies (networks are the most advanced form of social organization).

But now with the Internet we are basically all connected, so it's basically like living in the same little village for your entire life. Especially since a record of what you say and do is kept on your home page, so you don't really need a third party to vouch for you. I can send off an email to the CEO of almost any company I'd ever want to talk to or work for.

Also, the fact that as credentialism replaced learning as the reason why most kids go to college, the quality of education greatly suffered. Now it's way more efficient to just sit in a library and read books than it is to go to lectures. I learn more reading a book or two that I did from most of my classes at Cornell, especially since colleges use extremely low quality textbooks most of the time. Some of the textbooks they used at Cornell had advertising in them! Which wouldn't have pissed me off nearly as much if they weren't not only completely useless, but also filled with scores of blatant errors.

Re:What a crock (1)

Silkejr (856308) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899569)

The folks who are riding the coattails as you say at least give support, which IS important. An inventor can't invent if he can't get ahold of normal everyday stuff like the tools he needs.

Fundemental Dirustpive Change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14898959)

That's exactly what the terrorists are striving for. This guy needs to have the NSA perform a few anal probes on him in Guantanamo. He is obviously aligned with the Axis of evil.

Gosh. Golly. (3, Interesting)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898963)

There have always been a lot of creative people doing projects on the Web. Ideally, the Web is the province of Creative People, delivering their creative goodness directly to the consumer and bypassing the middlemen, and the tech stuff is transparent, in the background. Nobody goes to a show to see the stage crew, although we know they are there -- somewhere -- and respect their contribution.

Of course, the geeks built the Web, and were the first to know it was there and what it was capable of. As a result, the content of the early Web tended to be content of interest to geeks. That changed, happily, until the geeks developed streamlined means to manage and post new content, giving birth to 'blogs,' which are again dominated by geek topics. This too, is leveling.

Now, an awful lot of creative people like to call themselves "geeks" cuz it's (still) trendy, and an awful lot of geeks like to call themselves "creative" cuz they believe it will get them laid. But the hardcore shakers and shamen in each camp know enough not to dilute their efforts by dabbling; they just count on each other to work their respective money-attracting mojo.

nope (3, Insightful)

sentientbrendan (316150) | more than 8 years ago | (#14898990)

It may be easier for the average guy to write his own song, blog, or whatever, but that doesn't mean that he is contributing to societal advance. Just because it is easier to distribute ideas doesn't mean that it is easier to come up with *good* ideas. If anything I'm worried about all the smart, dedicated, creative people in the world being drowned out by all the morons and hacks, who vastly outnumber them, but in the past were kept quiet to some degree...

What you have to remember is that good ideas are not distributed evenly. Some people are vastly smarter than others. Vastly more creative than others. Vastly *better* than others by any way you mean to quantify better. You may have access to the modern equivalent of the printing press, but that doesn't mean you can publish the modern equivalent of the Principia Mathematica (either one).

Blogs are an excellent example of this. Blogs are horrible. They allow people who are too lazy or too ignorant even to build their own website the ability to spread their tawdry and mindless blatherings to the rest of the world. People talk about blogs supplanting traditional news media in some ways, but this is true only because traditionally news media has become so watered down and useless that just about any form of media that doesn't talk to you like a child could supplant it. Blogs are *not* an improvement over a good newspaper... it is just that good newspapers are hard to find these days (the seattle times in pretty good though).

Re:nope (1)

localman (111171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899218)

Blogs are an excellent example of this. Blogs are horrible.

This seems to be the common sentiment, but I don't get it. I don't look at many blogs, and even then only rarely. How is their existence a problem? I think there's a misunderstanding that just because something isn't useful to you that it isn't useful. Most blogs are there for people to communicate with their family and friends. Just because they are publicly accessible doesn't mean they need to be publicly valuable. Should we restrict public verbal conversation just because most of it is inane? Heck, then we should shut down slashdot because the vast majority of the world probably doesn't find it interesting.

I guess I'm hoping there's a conversion in the next few decades where people accept that they only have to concern themselves with the stuff that applies to them, and they just ignore the stuff that doesn't.

Cheers.

Mod parent down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14899254)

Did I miss something? Is all of society now supposed to bend to the will of any single entity?

It may be easier for the average guy to write his own song, blog, or whatever, but that doesn't mean that he is contributing to societal advance.

Actually, I think it does in fact, help society. By being a basic content creation machine. Maybe you, or even 99% of the people out there hate my music, but that still leaves one percent, which could potentially be, with the numbers [taipeitimes.com] we are talking about, could be over a hundred thousand, and that's at a 1% share. Please take my "facts" witha grain of salt, just trying to make a point.

I'm not even including content creators out there who might not like the music themselves, but will use other's content to create interpretations [illegal-art.org] of their own music.

"Just because it is easier to distribute ideas doesn't mean that it is easier to come up with *good* ideas."

No it is easier... just much harder to come up with an original idea.

"If anything I'm worried about all the smart, dedicated, creative people in the world being drowned out by all the morons and hacks, who vastly outnumber them, but in the past were kept quiet to some degree..."

Define "moron" or "hack" with out being objective.

You mention blogs in your post. I am a "blogger" but I do so for my own reasons, to be honest, I could give a dog's drool what you think. I think what you were trying to say is that you're scared that the "noise" will drowned out the "signal". I have a piece of advice for you, which IMHO should be the first "Web Commandment(TM)".

Treat the internet like a library. When you goto a library, what do you do when you want to find out information about a subject you have never studied before. You goto a librarian. Even if the librarian has no prior knowledge they can point you to books that are popular or to reference manuals.

In above just use this for the web.
  • library = internet
  • librarian = search engine, wikipedia, a knowledgeable friend (online or not), chatroom, etc.
  • popular book = popular sites
  • reference manuals = wikipedia or other encyclopedia sites.


Your argument holds no weight as it's filled with:
  • anecdotal evidence - "Blogs are horrible."
  • generalization - "You may have access to the modern equivalent of the printing press, but that doesn't mean you can publish the modern equivalent of the Principia Mathematica (either one)."
  • Argumentum ad Antiquitatem - "Blogs are *not* an improvement over a good newspaper."
  • Non Causa Pro Causa - "traditionally news media has become so watered down and useless that just about any form of media that doesn't talk to you like a child could supplant it."
  • Agumentum ad Populum - "it is just that good newspapers are hard to find these days (the seattle times in pretty good though)."
  • Petitio Principii - "Vastly *better* than others by any way you mean to quantify better."
  • bifurcation - "You may have access to the modern equivalent of the printing press, but that doesn't mean you can publish the modern equivalent of the Principia Mathematica (either one) ... They allow people who are too lazy or too ignorant even to build their own website the ability to spread their tawdry and mindless blatherings to the rest of the world."

    Quit spreading FUD -jijin

Re:nope (1)

mattpointblank (936343) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899289)

"It may be easier for the average guy to write his own song, blog, or whatever, but that doesn't mean that he is contributing to societal advance. Just because it is easier to distribute ideas doesn't mean that it is easier to come up with *good* ideas."

No, but it means that since more people who may not otherwise have had access to such tools can get their voices heard. Sure, it means there's still a lot of pointless "Today I ate a sandwich"-esque blogs out there, but it also means we can get viewpoints and stories from places you'd never hear from before (google around for a recent blog by a homeless guy, or the ones from Iraq that give better and faster updates than the global news groups do). Just like the printing press blew open authorship from being limited to monks and the very rich, the internet has made it easier for Joe Public to get his voice heard. Sure, most of said Joe Publics aren't gonna change the world, but it makes logical sense that some of them are going to revolutionise the net.

Signal to Noise (1)

labreuer (950633) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899290)

I find it hard to believe that blogs have influenced the signal-to-noise ratio in a positive way, and I wouldn't be surprised if they have influenced negatively. Blogs simply provide more information to sift through; you do find gems, but you can do an awful lot of work to find them.

I'm going to make up numbers here, but the idea holds: 90% of people think they're good at something when in reality, only 10% are. (I believe there is a statistic in Code Complete [microsoft.com] about how many programmers think they can get away with flowcharts when few actually can.) Therefore, when I'm searching the web, I get results of the 90% when I only want the 10%. I wouldn't be surprised if the numbers are closer to 99% and 1%...

The bottom line is that blogs aren't going to help a whole lot until it's quite easy to sift the pearls from the sand, and current "popularity search engines" don't cut it. More information isn't very useful unless you can actually find it!

Re:Signal to Noise (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14899401)

the system already DOES automatically grab good information...

Look at gizmodo, crooks and liars, harvardgop, or hell even slashdot. All are extremely popular, all started out small.

The 90/10 rule argument I give you, but not the signal out weighing the noise.

But the 90/10 rules has to apply to everything.. including books, movie, etc. Which it did/does.

The thing is I think everybody is scared of is that the noise "will reach a critical mass", the thing is.. if you multiply magnitude of the noise the magnitude will also go up. The only we have seems so far is more information sharing. Also, there are situations where 2-90%-minds==1-10%-mind

So for me it boils down to, in a pre-internet world, how would you find out _anything_ about say, a new chinese product, that solves a hard issue for you simply? Like one did for me.

"Instrumentalism?" (2, Insightful)

drdanny_orig (585847) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899041)

Excuse my ignorance, but how is this an argument against instrumentalism? I mean, from a scientific POV at least, that means ideas needn't be true so much as useful at explaining things, right? Does "anti-instrumentalism" require objective truth? Or does it demand that ideas not explain anything?

Re:"Instrumentalism?" (1)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899111)

...ideas needn't be true so much as useful at explaining things...


"So if she floats, she must be made of wood."
"Burn the witch!"

Mass Innovative Change? Hardly likely (4, Insightful)

morscata12 (957674) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899059)

Disruptive change never comes about via the masses. Large groups of people thinking collectively (at best) move slowly; their ideas evolve and change over time. They have to be convinced over large spans of time to accept ideas. The masses do not innovate; they smash ideas down and then accept them.
What the head of MIT's Media lab should have been saying is that there are a lot more people on the planet than there were before. With increased numbers over the whole and a constant percentage of "smart people," it would appear that smart people are on the rise.
In the overpopulation of our planet, we are witnessing a lot of smart people being born. We are also witnessing a lot of stupid people being born. Although there may be millions of intelligent humans out there now, there are still billions of stupid ones.
The group of individuals making the change is as small as ever..in terms of how much of the population they take up. And with more stupid people running around, change will happen just as slowly as before (try convincing billions that you are right!)
One last thought - Those making the changes have always wanted disruptive change, but look at the results of their desires. Communism would have been a massively disruptive change (on paper), but once it was implemented, people were able to smash it back down into the monarchy they were accustomed to.

Re:Mass Innovative Change? Hardly likely (1)

elucido (870205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899157)



Ok someone here has some common sense. You are correct, disruptive change cannot work unless the people want disruptive change, and guess what, we don't.

People want to just survive, make a profit, maybe retire better off than when they started. People do not want disruptive change. The simple fact is, most people are conservatives, you have people who are progressive, but the problem is this:

1. progressive thinking almost never leads to progressive action or a progressive reality.

2. progressive ideas usually become conservative over time.

The internet, radio, television, all of our current technology and ideas may have started out as progressive ideas, disruptive change ideas, but they are now conservative. Everything starts out new, but later on once society figures it out, it becomes something different. So instead of building technology for a progressive agenda, try building technology for a conservative agenda. Technology does not have to be political at all, but if it is going to be political, DONT label your technology as a "disruptive" technology. I mean common sense, who really wants a disruptive technology anyway? We are struggling with nano technology and stem cell research! Do you really think we need 10 new technologies to struggle with?

Different audiences/topics... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14899084)

I think the article referrer (Zonk) and Dr. Moss are speaking about different things (and perhaps this is why so many /.ers disagree). I believe Dr. Moss is referring to researchers (primarily in academia) and is encouraging them to do more groundbreaking research (you may waste years on what end up being a dead end) instead of incremental research (which is an easy paper mill).

Very little creativity on the Web today (2, Informative)

SideshowBob (82333) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899085)

Most of what passes for 'creative' on the Web is actually just re-inventing the wheel, poorly. Taking desktop applications and putting an AJAX interface on them and running them on a web server. They're slower, take control away from the user, and have worse user interfaces and features. But hey, it's on the Web!!! Web based word processing! Web based calendars! Oooh!

Disruptive change is a mistake. (2, Insightful)

elucido (870205) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899088)

All disruptive change will lead to, is a reversal of those changes. Instead of trying to change, we should take a more conservative approach. Most people are not looking forward to change.

"instrumentalism"? (1)

Baldrson (78598) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899109)

I tried reading the article looking for the relevance of mere numbers in changing the optimal size of a disruptive team. I also tried looking up "instrumentalism". Making sense isn't real high on the list of priorities here is it?

Creative maybeee..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14899119)

As the poster says: "There sure do seem to be a lot of creative people doing projects on the web today."

But, dammit, I'm tired of all this "creativity". I would appreciate someone yoking some intelligence to it as well.

Case in point, BoingBoing. An amusing "blog", yes. But if one of the admins says their friends (or vice versa) are "geniuses" (or any variant thereof) again, I'm going to....

I don't know. But you get my point: Creativity without more than a smidge of intelligence == 4th grade fingerpainting.

Disruptive technology defined (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14899124)

The guru on disruptive technology seems to be Clayton M. Christensen. He is Harvard prof. who has written several books including "The Innovator's Dilemma". His version of disruptive technology is that established companies have a hard time taking advantage of it. It creeps in at the edges of the market and by the time the established companies view it as a threat, it's too late.

The other thing about change is that it is usually driven from the top or from the bottom. It usually doesn't come from the mushy middle. For example, the things kids wear have been influenced by what is being worn in the poor neighborhoods of the inner city.

So, is there change happening on the web. Of course. There are two ingredients necessary. You need an innovator and you need followers. The one is as necessary as the other. So, to those who think the majority of people on the web aren't creative, I say phooey. The creative process is happening and it is being driven by a huge number of people.

And yes, some organizations are going to have a hard time dealing with it.

View from the coal face... (4, Interesting)

vik (17857) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899183)

As part of a team engaged in a disruptive Open Source hardware project (http://reprap.org/ [reprap.org] I have to say that the guy is almost right. Yes, advances come from large teams, but they need a small, dense and enthusiastic core to start the ball rolling.

What is essential for a project to spread, other than being useful to the users, it the ability to replicate it on demand. With software, this is pretty easy. With hardware it is currently more difficult, but we're fixing that.

What astounds me is the inability of the commercial world and economists in particular to recognise that there are ways of creating disruptive technologies without being limited by the need to make a profit. I can see a two-teir world developing before my eyes, with the commercial sector deriding anything that is not profitable on the grounds that it'll never spread. Software is so far the only exception to this pseudo-rule, but within 2 years the same will start to apply to hardware as multi-material 3D printers become available for under $1,000.

Vik :v)

Re:View from the coal face... (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899531)

"What astounds me is the inability of the commercial world and economists in particular to recognise that there are ways of creating disruptive technologies without being limited by the need to make a profit."

What astounds me is your implicit assumption that the commerical world would care about creating disruptive technologies for their own sake. Commercial companies are interested in making a profit. They don't care if the technology is disruptive, non-disruptive, or non-existent, as long as they can make money.

The commerical sector won't deride unprofitable things on the grounds that it won't spread, but (obviously) on the grounds that it won't make them money.

Oh, the irony (4, Insightful)

dubl-u (51156) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899210)

There must be a dozen people here posting half-considered arguments about how the internet just enables mediocre people to blather, and doesn't do anything for the gods who walk among us. I'm hoping these are very cleverly ironic, rather than self-defeating.

Trends say otherwise (2, Interesting)

Arandir (19206) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899231)

The trends say otherwise. Glenn Reynold's new book, "An Army of Davids", is a good treatment of the subject. Here's my take:

The Industrial Revolution was characterized by economies of scale. Large steam engines, huge factories, massive capital expenditures, etc. But this is the Information Age, which doesn't need economies of scale. Small is better, and the individual is rising in importance. The two centuries that gave us collectivism, groupthink and the centralization, are giving way to a time of individualism and decentralization.

Software is an example. The old industrialist model of software development is to have rows and rows of programmers sitting in cubicles, each working on one small part of the whole. The model promotes outsourcing to the cheapest possible programmer with the required skillset. But that model is rapidly fading away, to be replaced with small teams and distributed collaboration. In contrast to the article's premise, innovation in software is routinely performed by individuals.

more new economy BS (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899233)

I used to think I understood what these guys were saying. Now, it seems like they are just spouting technobabble to impress the masses. To wit:

Resist the current temptation to make incremental changes to attract funding. It might get you off the ground,
Is this just another version if the new economy of the 90's? When we all threw out the basic laws of conservation, and thought that money could be grown from nothing. That we could totally recreate the economy in a new image, one in which customers would magically appear, and profits would be generated by the invisible elf hand, as the customers themselves got everything for less than cost? Incremental changes have always been very profitable, and major changes are seldom so.

Companies are now paying attention to some of the major socioeconomic problems in the First and the Third World.
In as much as companies must work in those places, and customers do not seem to want the worker in those places to be excessively abused. However, it still appears that the oil companies in Nigeria facilitate oppression, and it does not seem we mind so much as not to use oil, Google has no problem censoring material for the chinese people. Just like imperialism, the current engagement is more a matter of cheap material and labor than solving socioeconomic problems.

We will undergo another revolution when we give 100 million kids a smart cell phone or a low-cost laptop
I will tell you what happens when 100 million kids have a smart phone. They surf porn in class and chat with their friends rather than learning. But this is no different form pencil and paper. A kid can take notes or draw naked pictures. Their choice. Unless the smart phone or laptop meets a stated and funded objective, it is a distraction.

We think of games as a way to kill time, but in the future I think it will be a major vehicle for learning.
This is just scary. Only the most undereducated or unsophisticated person thinks of a game as a way to kill time. Games are, and always has been, the primary form of socialization. The game teaches the kid, in a safe environment, the rules and expectations of society. Think of the games that small children play and the rules and expectations of those games. Follow rules. Wait your turn. Effort produces reward. As people gets older the games can help them release the animal desires though simulation of socially unacceptable behaviors. Games are our primary form of education, and, often, are our primary form of testing new technologies.

The overall thrust might be correct. Technology often allows more people to participate in the development of new technology. The cheap book helped people educate themselves. The cheap computer allows more of us to create models that help other work more efficiently. The technology of standard measures helps us do research. But in the end, it is still a few small groups of people that refines the technology that the larger society creates, and often a single group that wins in the marketplace.

Re:more new economy BS (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899492)

I attended a seminar on Venture Capital funding a couple of years ago by a local business group (this was well after the Internet Bubble "exploded"). A VC company made a presentation and explained that the VC's are only interested in high-risk, high return investments.

So the idea that incremental changes are a bad way to attract investors (at least the VC kind) has been established for many years. It's not an idea originating at MIT.

Re:more new economy BS (2, Funny)

eluusive (642298) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899510)

This is just scary. Only the most undereducated or unsophisticated person thinks of a game as a way to kill time. Games are, and always has been, the primary form of socialization. The game teaches the kid, in a safe environment, the rules and expectations of society. Think of the games that small children play and the rules and expectations of those games. Follow rules. Wait your turn. Effort produces reward. As people gets older the games can help them release the animal desires though simulation of socially unacceptable behaviors. Games are our primary form of education, and, often, are our primary form of testing new technologies.
So uhm.. If demons invade I'm supposed to kill them all?

DANGER (1)

LittleBigScript (618162) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899288)

This is like art without talent. Their needs to a fundamental skill behind development or else their isn't much chance for it catching on.

Who wants to follow a badly conceived amateur? Learn the basics before trying to play expert. It is like consulting without experience.

Significant progress confirmed by meme theory? (2, Insightful)

10100111001 (931992) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899295)

"Meme theory shows that the more information we all know, the more progress will occur. ...

We can think of the human brain as a computer: a meme processing unit (MPU). Most of what everyone thinks everyday has already been thought of, but, occasionally, a few memes come together in a way that has not yet been processed and progress occurs. Progress never comes in huge chunks, only tiny advancements at a time. Like coral, humanity's knowledge continually grows off the existing base.

Now, if you think of humanity as a distributed meme processing machine - a supercomputer of interconnected MPUs spanning the globe - then the more we know as a species, the higher the probability of new discoveries being found. The more discoveries we find, most often, the better off we all are."

-excerpt from u4Ya.ca [u4ya.ca]

Allright, how about some REAL disruptive changes.. (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#14899336)

Like first off, from what I've seen out there most VC's wouldn't recognize a free market if it ripped them a new one. How about skipping the VC's.

Second off, copyrights are dead. Anything that approaches that cause will be a worthy endeavor.

Third off, government backed moneys are going to die over the next few years (and all the programs, bonds, and promises that go along with it). Position yourselves to deal with that, and especially position yourselves in those old "barbaric" precious metals. How Ironic ... good ole fasioned Gold is disruptive!

Fourth off, "ownership" of the spectrum is also going to die. Anything that approaches that will also be a good endeavour.

Fith off, university and public education is going to die (probably arround the time the government money systems die). Get ready to deal with it.

Sixth off, while patents won't die as soon as copyrights, and their death will likely be much more violent, anything that moves assembly, invention, and manufacturing out of the corporate world and into the home will be a good thing in that direction.
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