Innovation Boom or Apocalypse?

The last 10 years has been pretty blah as far as innovation is concerned. Sure the web has evolved and we all love Facebook and Twitter and couldn’t imagine living without Amazon or Google (Bing anyone?) but these are all web properties and thus not very diversified.

Where are the medical breakthroughs, the truly revolutionary transportation inventions be they car or plane, even household tech doesn’t feel all that different other than flatter TVs. Clearly people haven’t been standing still but I don’t feel there have been many innovations or inventions that have impacted us in a how-did-we-survive-without-that kind of way.

As a consummate optimist I’m convinced that the next decade will see some pretty interesting breakthroughs that leave my son’s high school years looking very different from mine – and not just because he’s texting or listening to MP3s. My gut tells me that some of the biggest innovation will be around business models and service – the offline varieties (although I’m sure they’ll leverage the web).

What industries do you think are ripe for a leap forward?

P.S. I hate that people use innovation to describe any progress. Innovation is incremental, often a re-purposing of existing tech for new uses – often affecting the fat part of the bell curve. Invention is new in a that’s-never-been-done sort of way. Help me fight the good fight by replacing innovation with invention when appropriate.


2 responses to “Innovation Boom or Apocalypse?

  1. We can only hope the greatest advances will keep a studied eye on social and ecological awareness. As an avid “innoventor” I myself had lost site of the fact that nothing we introduce or re-purpose operates in a vacuum. We have no control over the “life” of a new technology once it’s released on the world and must keep in mind that it may have far-reaching and irreversible consequences. Remember when cell phones were nothing but a gadget for the wealthy and self-important? (See Study links bee decline to cell phones) I fear there are many a pandora’s box ahead and we need to tread lightly in spite of traditional business pressures.

    Sorry to high-jack the topic Brian. Just an old man’s retrospective viewpoint. As the world’s next innoventors it’s your responsibility to make sure our children do have high-school years, similar to ours or not.

    • That’s a good point, it’s easy to lose track of the true benefits (or drawbacks) of what we’re doing. I know I’ve heard a number of startup ideas that sound profitable but pretty boring to me because they don’t really make anyone’s life better.

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