Saturday, February 26, 2005

The thwarting of innovation over 50 years ago

I just finished watching The Man in the White Suit starring Alec Guinness, in a 1951 movie about the invention of fabric that won't wear out or get dirty. After toiling in various labs, Guiness's character, Sydney Stratton, finally produces the magic polymer and a suit of the material is made for a press conference. The textile mill owners quickly realize that it will be their ruin if such a material is produced and band together with labor to supress the technology by attempting to stop Sydney's idea from becoming public. A chase ensues, leading to a surprise ending. Funny thing: nanotech is making this movie more and more likely.

Nowadays, innovation paranoia isn't as prevalent, though it does exist here and there (Verizon's recent attempts to thwart the city of Philadelphia's efforts to deploy broadband via Wi-Fi is a good example).

The movie leads to thoughts about existent and nascent technologies/services, allowing serious changes to business/profit models:
Lots of companies will lose money, though lots will make money; many people will lose jobs, though many will find new jobs. All I know is that the consumer benefits time and time again. Keep your eye on the's gonna be fun to see what happens!

1 comment:

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