Looking back at past innovations leads to the future.
The innovations of the past are more than examples of wrong turns or outdated methodologies and they are more than modern entrails readings. What the study and working knowledge of past technologies are is inspirational. One prime example is how telephony engineers re-examining the process and patent for a frequency jamming resistant torpedo controller developed by ‘the worlds most beautiful woman’ just prior to WWII lead to our modern smart-phone communications – a process called CDMA. The fact is that nothing is built out of the blue but is based on processes that came before, something akin to Broca’s brain.
If you are a fan of Scientific American magazine you might recall that some of the most thought provoking articles were not the five page with pull out centerfold on DNA mapping but were located near the back of each edition. Just before the ads selling Name a star services and other science fandom accessories were the magazines anti- agitprop agitators such as James Burke and his ‘Connections’ articles. Mr. Burke’s column took the reader on a delightfully wandering path to discover how things actually came to be, like how the water wheel lead to breakthroughs in modern computing. The BBC series based on his writings only added to the wonder and prodded one to never take for granted any common device – each has so much history and wonderful things to teach us about why our modern world works the way it does.
I was re-reading the fantastic AV shout article ‘What Goes Around, Comes Around: A Historian’s Response to Unified Communications’ By K. Daniel Armstrong recently and it got me to thinking…
When asked to recap his career and life Tucker responded “Me? I am just a figment of your collective imagination and let me tell you that living this life has taught me one thing- you people are twisted Mofos” You can follow Tucker on Twitter @Tuckertues or his personal blog on tech and tech culture at http://tuckerstuesday.typepad.com