Thursday, August 22, 2002

The Innovation Cycle

From Adam Curry’s weblog, a great review of a book about the history of the telephone. He equates the challenges faced by Bell to the weblog challenge. I think it’s broader than that, but the similarities in economic climate, business challenges, etc. are absolutely intriguing:

I’ve been reading the History of the telephone, as written in 1910 by Herberst Casson. It has been very refreshing to read how hard it was for Bell to get anyone to notice, look ar listen to his new device. In fact, it wasn’t until he sent a ‘news story’ at a distance of 16 miles, that he received the attention he needed: the press. Seems they only react when their own business affected.

So much of this story is analogous to weblogs. Their invention, mis(understanding) and application all pretty much went through the same stages. Here’s one you’ll recognize:
“There were hundreds of shrewd capitalists in American cities in 1876, looking with sharp eyes in all directions for business chances; but not one of them came to Bell with an offer to buy his patent. Not one came running for a State contract. And neither did any legislature, or city council, come forward to the task of giving the people a cheap and efficient telephone service.”
It gets better: “ ……it was a most unpropitious time for the setting afloat of a new enterprise. It was a period of turmoil and suspicion. What with the Jay Cooke failure, the Hayes-Tilden deadlock, and the bursting of a hundred railroad bubbles, there was very little in the news of the day to encourage investors.” [Adam Curry: Adam Curry’s Weblog]

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