The Radical vs. The Conservative
By MortazaviBlog on Oct 09, 2007
The system-originating inventions can be labeled radical, the system-improving ones conservative.
Thomas P. Hughes (2004), American Genesis: A Century of Inventions and Technological Enthusiasm, 1870-1970
James Gosling's Java was a radical invention. It was based on a radical design born out of several grueling decades of industry experiments in software languages and software development. Relational databases are implementations of a radical design formulated decades ago.
By Hughes' definition, a radical invention originates new systems. You cannot have a radical invention without a system. An invention that neither originates a system nor improves it, may simply be called an experiment, or an exploratory idea.
Radical inventions come rarely and they are based on a radical design which answers to a multitude of converging needs.
A major grouping of today's radical inventions are based on
environmental and ecological designs that create intelligent contact
with the environment. I like to call them intelligent scaffoldings,
whether of networks, buildings, devices or whatever else it is that we
live in or live with---customization to contain and to be contained.
What will attract the attention of system-builders of this and next decade? Given the ravages of war and militarism, only human concerns can be the center of such radical system building. The best inventions are those that bring peace and prosperity, save us time and economize energy---they are inventions that allow us to focus our attentions on what matters most in life.