No More Drama, lets get back to Innovating

No DramaYou know what I don't like about the security biz? All the Drama. I suppose this isn't much different than any other line of work, but please I just want to sit in peace and think about the problems and then think about solutions and then make lots of money OK? Ahh right, there is the problem, that whole money thing, damn how could I be so naive? To many, fame is just another form of currency and when people start thinking someone is trying to take that away from them, you get drama.

For example, this little chain of events:

Please, all of you, put all this you stole your research nonsense behind you and move on. We all build our work on the shoulders of the giants who came before us. Half of the "new" ideas in security I read today were first presented in this book by James Martin in 1974. Does that mean any of his work was stolen? No, not really. Stuff get's reinvented all the time and that's good. Most of the time we call this innovation.

New research brings old ideas to life when they are presented in a new context. Often a context that didn't exist back when the idea first appeared. It's this context that the researcher brings to the idea which is the real innovation and we should all just sit back and bask in its glory. An idea is timeless and the good ones will get re-invented over and over again through the ages, like say for example ultrawideband wireless which was invented in 1894 or the fuel cell, invented in 1845. (Read: Tuning in to Technologies Past). These guys all invented something amazing, but nobody knows who these people are because they didn't discover or even have the context that would have allowed their technologies to change the world.

There are also many examples throughout history where completely independent inventors have come up with the same idea nearly simultaneously (Gorman, 1998). These simultaneous inventions happens all the time but why? The explanation I like best is what the historian Thomas Hughes described as a Reverse Salient. "A salient is a protrusion in a geometric figure, a line of battle, or an expanding weather front. As technological systems expand, reverse salients develop. Reverse salients are components in the system that have fallen behind or are out of phase with the others" (Hughes, 1987). I believe that it's these reverse salients that create an innovation vacuum that the leading researchers almost subconsciously rush to fill independent of each other. Or as John Campbell argues "Scientists and engineers, like everyone else, are influenced by their patrons and customers. The cultures of their communities thus affect the pace and direction of technological change."

Pheww, well that puts it all in perspective right?

So, Robert (Rsnake), Jeremiah, and Billy, please, all of you, get back to innovating and discovering new context. The world is a better place when you are focused on that.

References and great reading