Friday, November 12, 2004
The Evolution of an Idea
Tell me if this rings true:
For infrastructure-type innovations, there is a general unveiling process that seems to happen. Early on, the knowledge of the new innovation is held by a small few. At some point the concept is sufficiently baked to be taken up by the general public and a period of rapid expansion in exposure to the idea follows. Ideas are thrown around about all of the different ways that the new idea can be applied. These ideas swing far and wide and help serve as a sounding board for all of the conceivable applications for the idea. At some point the buzz factor dies off as no products hit the market. Some relatively long period of time later, products using the idea start emerging but with much less hype due to the hangover from the initial round of discussion. The breadth that the released products cover is significantly reduced from the speculative phase as most of the ideas are untenable for reasons relating to actual economics/interest.
This would explain why futurists tend to make predictions about how we will all be living in plastic homes with rocket cars powered by atomic energy and equipped with laser cannons. So much buzz is generated in the speculative phase that it seems that surely a good percentage of what is being discussed must come into being.
If this is true, then it will help in the making of predictions about the future to be able to identify ideas that are in this stage and find ways to put a limit on what may actually be a result of such an idea.