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Berkonomics

A compelling vision drives innovation.

Companies that innovate new products, services and methods of delivery are the ones that stand out in a crowded business world, especially when attempting to gain recognition beside competitors on the web. 

Innovation is valued by our society, by investors and certainly by consumers.  It is the focus for state and federal governments worldwide, many finding ways to reward innovators with tax incentives or investors with tax credits to finance innovative new enterprises.

As a keynote speaker, I often start presentations with a short history of innovation in the United States, using the twist of examining innovation through the lens of 150 years of cyclic bursts of bubbles, leading to subsequent recessions and depressions.  It is not hard to find strands of gold in the carnage left by failed businesses lost when a bubble bursts, such as in 1857, 1902, 1929 and 2001.

Innovators make use of golden strands of opportunity left when the unfinished vision of another cries for completion, or when a genuine new concept changes the very way people think about their lives.

[Email readers continue here…] Leonard Kleinrock and a few of his UCLA computer lab students worked to send the first several characters from UCLA to Stanford in 1969 over a direct line established for the test.  They were able to send only the “LO” of “LOGON” before recording the very first crash of the Internet.  And I’m sure they had no idea what they were fathering with that effort which eventually became ARPANET, and then of course, the Internet itself.  They had no mantra, and a limited vision to connect mainframe computers to share academic information.

How many entrepreneurs used that infrastructure to create an expansive vision of what could be?  Tim Burners-Lee wanted to use this new infrastructure to create a friendlier web of pages, sharing data like the pages of a massive library of books extending throughout the world.  The result was the worldwide web, upon which Mark Andreeson and his crew in Chicago build the Mosiac browser to make this data more available to anyone.  Which in turn allowed innovators worldwide to create applications inside a browser, share detailed information previously locked inside libraries and corporations, and ultimately to change the world by making the exchange of information frictionless.

We can look back to Edison, Ford and Bell as great innovators of their time.  But perhaps the most impressive invention of recent times is the result of hundreds of people, firms, and institutions, each adding a new brick to the building of the Internet.

Now we have the infrastructure for innovators to create applications with free software on computers used for many purposes simultaneously.  And millions of innovators are at work extending the capabilities of the Internet.

What opportunities are next?  Perhaps it is the remaking of the world through green technologies, clean technologies, new medical technologies, new home entertainment products, new mobile communications products and services, and more.

Who said that “Everything that can be invented has been invented?”  Ah yes. That was Charles H. Duell, U.S. Commissioner of Patents in 1899.   Oops.

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