Google
 

Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2018 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk



Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

Is the Net killing innovation?

23 February 2018

I had to laugh when I was scanning the news wires today.

Aardvark readers will doubtless recall that on Wednesday (the 21st) I published a column titled "Peak Smartphone" in which I asked whether people might stop upgrading their phones on such a regular basis because we'd already achieved a perfectly good level of power, performance and convenience with the ones we have.

Well knock me down with a feather but this morning I spotted this story (dated today which is 22nd Feb UK-time) running in The Telegraph's technology section.

Is the Telegraph so desperate for story ideas that they're now reading Aardvark?

No, of course not. What this demonstrates is several things:

Firstly, the old adage that "great minds think alike" is a true one.

Secondly, there really isn't too much to write about these days, when it comes to "technology".

I do miss the fire and the passion, the innovation and the pace of development that occurred in the computer and allied industries back in the 1980s. Today's industry is slow and tedious by comparison.

Back in the 1980s, microcomputers were "new" and exciting. Every day bought about new designs, new products, new concepts, new ideas and exciting new breakthroughs.

What was even more astonishing about this period was that all this took place without a ubiquitous internet to help people share their ideas and hard work. Or maybe that was *why* the 1980s was such an exciting period -- because so many people were working in virtual isolation that new ideas abounded.

How ironic that maybe it's the existence of the Net which is responsible for a general slowing of the pace of development.

Could it be that back in those halcyon days of the '80s, we tried stuff because we didn't know that someone else may have already tried it and failed. We didn't allow the failure of others to put us off investigating ideas and concepts that ultimately became new pieces of technology or new products.

Today, it's ridiculously easy to jump online to research the viability of an idea and find out who (if anyone) has already given it a go. How easy is it to be put off by finding a series of instances where others have attempted to do the same as you're planning to do -- but failed? If you know that other, possibly better funded and more highly knowledgeable people have failed to get an idea to work then you're far less likely to give it a go yourself.

Not so 35 years ago.

Back then, most information was disseminated by print media. Byte magazine, Dr Dobbs Journal and a small stack of influential magazines were the way you found out what others were doing and that meant we all pretty much operated in isolation.

Attending an industry trade fair would also give you a clue as to what had been successful but it didn't document the failures that, these days, might be causing many good ideas to be set-aside due to the inadequacies of attempts made by others.

It's also *much* harder to keep a secret today.

Just look at how often the latest iPhone or Galaxy is "leaked" to the world via social media and remember how easy it is for a single "leak" to propagate round the world in a matter of minutes thanks to the effectiveness of the Net and the many services that run on it.

So is the proliferation of instant, virtually-free global communication actually helping or harming innovation in the tech sector?

Surely we're not seeing a noticeable downturn in "cool new stuff" simply because we've hit some kind of technology ceiling -- so what's the explanation for the blandness of today's tech landscape?

Or is this simply a perception problem on my part?

Is it that, because I am no longer living on the bleeding edge, I'm not seeing the stuff that used to get me all hyped up and excited?

You tell me!

Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

Have your say in the Aardvark Forums.

PERMALINK to this column


Rank This Aardvark Page

 

Change Font

Sci-Tech headlines

 


Features:

Beware The Alternative Energy Scammers

The Great "Run Your Car On Water" Scam

 

Recent Columns

That card costs how much?
Hands up everyone who remembers when the only choices available for PC graphics were CGA and the Hercules card? ...

Youtube, AI and monetization (the nightmare)
YouTube... you've got to love them... and hate them...

Risk analysis? What's that?
Elf and Safety... it's a hot topic these days and has become a real career path for clip-board carriers, lawyers and bureaucrats alike...

On the verge of a fusion breakthrough?
Great news, sustainable over-unity nuclear fusion reactors could be just 10 years away...

Tesla, sunshine and EV range
Regular readers will recall that quite some time ago, not long after Tesla announced their intentions to build a giga-factor to make batteries, I warned of the risks...

How about a 3-strikes law for government?
The contentious "three strikes" legislation has been apparently very successful overseas in places like New York...

Technology fail day
Yesterday was an "interesting" day...

Tesla about to be gazumped?
Given that Elon Musk is as clever and crazy as Nikola Tesla, it's no wonder he named his electric car company after the infamous inventor...

Music war looms
Music, everyone loves it and those who trade in it stand to make a huge amount of money from it...

Are kids today just users?
As a child, I always wanted to know what was inside stuff and how it worked...

Synergy saves the day against germs?
For quite some time now, the mainstream media has been publishing stories which predict the rise of antibiotic-resistant organisms to such an extent that we will find ourselves defenseless...