Independent Thinking Blog

Wired for Innovation

I caught up on back issues of Wired this weekend. Good writing is underrated, and this magazine has some of the best. Plus, where else can you read about behavioral feedback loops, hackers, a kerfuffle over a hijacked copy of a video game, and Harry Potter in the same place?

There were also two terrific pieces about innovation and entrepreneurship. One is an homage to Y Combinator and its founder, Paul Graham. The energy of the participants jumps from the pages, as in this instructive description of how Graham and his team select candidates for their start-up bootcamp:

Graham tends not to pay too much attention to a candidate or team’s business plan—it’s likely to change during the course of the program anyway. Instead, he zeros in on the character and intelligence of the applicants. After one team’s presentation, Buchheit says that he would use the product. But Graham is skeptical. “Are these guys winners?” he asks. “It’s all about the guys.” The group is not accepted. [Bolded emphasis added by me.]


The other is a Clive Thompson essay on the roots of innovation. In The Breakthrough Myth, he cites researcher Bill Buxton who thinks:

paradigm-busting inventions are easy to see coming because they’re already lying there, close at hand… Truly billion-dollar breakthrough ideas have what Buxton calls surprising obviousness. They feel at once fresh and familiar.


Good food for thought.

Photo by Karl-Ludwig Poggemann (Flickr).

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