"the deadliest bullshit is odorless and transparent" - William Gibson

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

it aint about a wordlock

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The Economist has an article on "The future of innovation" coninciding with a new book by the head of MIT's User Innovation Project - Eric Von Hippel.

The book, Democratizing Innovation will be available electronically via a Creative Commons license, and "looks closely at this emerging system of user-centered innovation." It's great that big business is finally realizing that this is a real force, even if they don't really understand the customers who are contributing, but from what I can tell, everyone is still looking at the end result rather than the process itself. I'm excited that von Hippel's book may finally start addressing some of these "ancilliary" benefits...it'll be interesting to see how far he goes.

The number one rule for any of these projects is that the project should be worthwhile even if you take away the end result/product/concept/etc. If a company is eyeing ROI from such a project, then the project should already be worth commiting the resources even if all the customer "innovations" are garbage. The real value is the process itself, the conversation between company and customer, not in any "new idea" that is spawned. The totally lame and lazy metaphor at the end of the economist article, "Either way, some firms are starting to believe that there really is such a thing as a free lunch," shows that unfortunately the "creative consumer" is still being looked at through dusty 19th century lenses.

update: full book now online here


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