Why everything new isn’t an innovation


Innovations lie on the horizon. But we often fail to recognize the real ones. (Dimitri Messinis/AP)

Here’s a look at five ideas that could affect how we live, work and play.

1. The innovation spectrum. I wrote earlier today about Domino’s Pizza’s claim that one of its new products is innovative. It’s a great example of something new being mistaken for an innovation. Analyst Horace Dediu has a smart breakdown of what is an innovation and what isn’t:

Novelty: Something new
Creation: Something new and valuable
Invention: Something new, having potential value through utility
Innovation: Something new and uniquely useful

As Dediu explains, when companies come out with “innovations” that are actually novelties, economic growth is slowed. Only true innovations drive the world forward.

2. Art’s critical role in innovation. From the MIT Technology Review:

If you’re in a math or science class and you’re trying to learn different equations, there’s an answer and you’re trying to arrive at it. But if I’m drawing a beautiful plant—say I wanted to make the lines really thick. The teacher can’t come over and say, “You know, the lines should be thinner.” There’s no should, really. Ultimately it’s up to the person creating the work to determine what the path is, and that kind of agency is what’s required for innovation.

3. Normcore. Via Vox:

The term normcore was coined on October 19, 2013 when the trend-casting group K-hole published “Youth mode: a Report on Freedom.” For K-hole the goal of normcore was to blend into the crowd, to be unrecognizable from any other person, or as they wrote, “the new world order of blankness.” To be normcore, according to K-hole, was “to understand that there is no such thing as normal.”

4. You don’t need to be young to create the next hot app. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg explained why he’s not worried about turning 30 and losing touch with young people. Via the New York Times:

It’s not clear to me that when you look at younger folks or older folks that there’s any trend of apps starting in one audience and going on to be more mainstream. Pinterest’s early users were not tech people and not younger people, and it was very female-centric. Some of these other services might start with teens. But I think Twitter′s early strength wasn’t younger folks. … Most people who use Facebook have not been my age through the majority of my time here.

5. Roadways that glow. Via Wired:

Light-absorbing glow-in-the-dark road markings have replaced streetlights on a 500m stretch of highway in the Netherlands.

Studio Roosegaarde promised us the design back in 2012, and after cutting through rather a lot of government red tape we can finally see the finished product.

Here’s a great image of them. I’ll be writing more about these lanes later this month. Stay tuned!

Matt McFarland is the editor of Innovations. He's always looking for the next big thing. You can find him on Twitter and Facebook.
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Matt McFarland · April 16