Does The Tech Industry Need A History Lesson?

from the looking-back-before-you-look-forward dept

Someone anonymously pointed us to a fascinating interview with Alan Kay, famed computer scientist who is partly responsible for an awful lot of the technology you use today. The interview touches on a variety of interesting subjects (including why he dislikes what computers have become), but perhaps the most interesting is his complaint that the tech industry always looks forward and never looks back. Specifically, he's talking about how few people seem to recognize the ideas that Doug Englebart showed the world almost forty years ago. Basically, he's upset that in always looking forward, we're either recreating what was done before or completely missing out on some of the better ideas that came before. This is quite interesting, as we've said plenty of times, innovation is an ongoing process rather than brilliant ideas that come out of nowhere. And, part of that process is building on the ideas of those who came before you to make them better. There is something to be said for coming up with alternative routes -- either to the same idea or to different ones -- but it's always helpful to look at what those who came before you have said, to see if there's more that can be built on. So, while there are plenty of stories of history (unfortunately) repeating itself in Silicon Valley, is it time that folks who work in this industry started signing up for history lessons to help them better think about what the future could hold?
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  1. identicon
    RatKilla, 9 Feb 2007 @ 2:01pm

    Die Rats...

    Someone clever once said to never worry about someone stealing your "original" idea. If it is truly "original" you will have to ram it down their throat. Well that is true, but only until the rats figure out your making money. Imagine scraps of meat thrown in the middle of a room full of rats that have not eaten for weeks. I feel you might see the similarity in the way ideas are devoured today. If I ever invent anything oh let's say "cold fusion". I will keep it to myself and let it die with me. I would rather see the rats die then let them feed off my ideas.

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