The Long Nose of Innovation

What a beautiful phrase for the title of this post – I wish I had invented it. It is the title of an interesting Business Week article by Bill Buxton well known for his contributions to human-computer interaction. According to Bill:

Innovation is not about alchemy. In fact, innovation is not about invention. An idea may well start with an invention, but the bulk of the work and creativity is in that idea’s augmentation and refinement. The newer the idea, the coarser the granularity of most analysis, and the more likely people are to say, “oh, that’s just like X” or “that’s been done before,” without any appreciation for how much work and innovation is involved in taking an idea from concept to wide practice.

I agree entirely and this is the philosophy I try to instil into my research students, particularly those embarking at the Masters level. A very new idea in information technology is unlikely to become practicable in the 3-5 years of a PhD. It is much better to take existing ideas and refine them and/or to combine several ideas in new and effective combinations.

Thanks to Jon Udell for the heads up.

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About Michael Rees
Academic in IT interested in Web 2.0 and social media

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