3 responses to “Weekend Journal — The Other Direction of Trickle Down Techonomics”

  1. Steve Hoefer

    I also lament the days when Bell Labs and Xerox PARC where frothing fermenting pots of transformative ideas. But I don’t see them or their descendants coming back any time soon. There are too many competitors for bright ambitious people who want to change the world, and a company or government or agency can’t get the attention of more than a few for a short time.

    But they can encourage them to do and share their work. Open Source [blank] is a great example. Or Wikipedia which we now take for granted, but it’s something that no organization or government would every have proposed because it would have been unworkable for either of those. The Internet its self would be another. (Dang there’s DARPA again.)

    There are also the X-Prizes and their work-alikes. They set a goal and give a reward. They don’t give a damn how you get there. All they do is lure the motivated smart people to get organized.

    And I think the distributed model is better in the long run. It gets the most, best people to work on the projects they really believe in and that inspires them. And do it in the framework that works best for them. The result will be fewer crapgadgets and more trips to space.

  2. Awkward Engineer (Sam)

    I might have to disagree with you Chris, that the Bell Labs atmosphere is gone, citing anecdotal examples. What do you call IBM’s Watson computer? Or Google’s investment in self-driving robotic cars? Or Bose’s shock absorber research?

    I certainly agree with you that cutting long term R&D is an awful play out of the MBA playbook, but I think Bell Labs type places still exist.

    1. Chris Gammell

      I called out Google as a place where they are working on that kind of stuff. But all of that stuff seems like it is more directly contributing to the mission of the company. When I compare it to something like the transistor, those awesome feats from good companies seem trite almost. However, I’m willing to accept that I could be holding the transistor in a higher regards than anything else. I mean, it did allow for AT&T (in it’s reincarnated monolithic form) to once again create a monopoly, this time on iPhones. Talk about foresight! 😉