Tag Archives: innovation

On Copying

During episode 30 of the excellent Exponent podcast, Ben Thompson and James Allworth spin off into a fantastic bit about patents, copyright, and innovation. Allworth’s polarizing take should whet your appetite:

Copying each other doesn’t blunt innovation; It spurs innovation.

During a chance encounter at the 2002 Warped Tour, Geoff Rickly of Thursday offered me a single piece of advice: Never be afraid to steal. It certainly runs in-line with quotes such as “Good artists copy; Great artists steal,” and “That great poets imitate and improve, whereas small ones steal and spoil.” At the time, Rickly was an idol of mine. His words struck deep.

As previously mentioned, Zero Counts was inspired from episode 105 of The Talk Show with John Gruber, I completely redesigned Zero Counts with my first practical foray into HTML, CSS, and PHP. (Archive.org capture from 12/18/14.) In less than one years time, my writing, design, and coding skills have vastly improved, all thanks to copying Daring Fireball.

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The Innovators

Earlier this evening, I had the very fortunate privilege of attending The Morris Series: Leadership and Innovation, featuring Walter Isaacson put on by The Aspen Institute. Even more fortunate that today is the release date of his latest book, The Innovators.

The introductory illustrated timeline of innovation in the book reads with the following dates:

  • 1993 (Mosaic, AOL)
  • 1994 (Web log and directory, Pathfinder)
  • 1995 (Wiki Wiki Web)
  • 1997 (Deep Blue)
  • 1998 (Google)
  • 1999 (Blogger)
  • 2001 (Wikipedia)
  • 2011 (Watson)

The decade long gap between 2001 and 2011 is a bit alarming. Was it glazed over as said decade has been under careful watch by Isaacson’s primary audience and may read as redundant? Is it simply that he aims to address said decade within the book? I’m hoping for the latter.

Not only did the late ’90s account for the blossoming of the Internet as we know it, but 2001 marks the year of the September 11 attacks. Two critical events intersecting on a single timeline. Add in adolescence (the insane flourishing of ideas, rebellion, and independence — this particular generation referred to as “millennials” by some), and you have the perfect mixture for… something…

If not from himself, this “something” is what I hope someone of Isaacson’s stature addresses. A large majority of the fresh engineering talent, and possibly the next round of innovators, moving into the professional workplace witnessed both the late ’90s blossoming of the Internet as well as the September 11 attacks during adolescence. That must shape the philosophical and social ideas surrounding up-and-coming technology in a profound way, and I would love to know how.

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