Celebrate the Ordinary – Innovation to the Mundane
At what point does an innovation become infrastructure and the spectacular become mundane?
How much of life and the world around us do we take for granted, for example the radio alarm clock that wakes you up in the morning, the toaster and electric jug that helps you with breakfast, the car on the way to work, the computer, email, the microwave that heats up your lunch, or even the ball point pen you write with. These were all spectacular innovations that, at some stage, set the world on fire (in the case of the toaster sometimes literally).
What was life like without these innovations and what would it be like if they suddenly disappeared?
At some stage in the life cycle of every great invention or innovation it will become an expectation or an infrastructure, forgotten about, and even treated as mundane and routine. It would appear that the most significant innovations of the last 100 years have become so routine that we cannot name the inventor.
Truly significant innovations even after a short time will appear to be invisible, and they should. We turn on a switch and the light goes on, we don’t even think about it we just expect the electricity to flow through an electrical circuit and make a small glass bulb glow. Hardly a thought goes to Thomas Edison’s 10,000 attempts to make it work.
Often significance is invisible and silent. The true greatness of innovation is not measured by awards and plaudits but by silent entrenchment as infrastructure.
The routine and the ordinary make the world go round.
Appreciate and celebrate the ordinary, because at some stage in the not to distant past it was amazing.
Paul S Allen