How We Misunderstand 'Innovation'

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Horace Dediu

1. How we misunderstand innovation... a meditation.

"But there is another form of ignorance which seems to be universal: the inability to understand the concept and role of innovation. The way this is exhibited is in the misuse of the term and the inability to discern the difference between novelty, creation, invention and innovation. The result is a failure to understand the causes of success and failure in business and hence the conditions that lead to economic growth. My contribution to solving this problem is to coin a word: I define innoveracy as the inability to understand creativity and the role it plays in society. Hopefully identifying individual innoveracy will draw attention to the problem enough to help solve it."


2. Fake-traffic bots are getting better at pretending to be human, and of course they only want to emulate valuable humans

"The bots generate 30 million phony video views a day, but could potentially serve 80 million fake views if unwitting advertisers bought all the fraudulent inventory... Also, the bots are contaminating advertiser cookie data, Lopatecki said. The bots go to sites that gather user data for advertisers—like a—and plant thousands of fake target segments. This increases the likelihood that advertisers who tap that data wind up buying fake audiences on the bots’ preferred websites."


3. To play better in the playoffs, Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers, has sworn off looking at his Twitter mentions

"He also has cut out almost all social media, rarely posting or checking his mentions on Twitter and almost completely ending his previous habit of studying his play in YouTube videos. 'It's helped,' Griffin said of the decision to cut back on all forms of media consumption. 'You get rid of negativity, you kind of play a little bit freer, you live a little bit more free. Not as much clutter.'


4. A project to bring open data to bear on the problem of depleted uranium in Iraq.

"These discrepancies have resulted in confusion and stagnation in assistance for Iraq’s public health projects. That’s why after presenting the bGeigie Layth came up to me and told me about the conflicting reports of cancer rates and depleted uranium in Iraq. Layth suggested that perhaps by creating an open data project that brought together a survey of hospital patients and the areas people live in who’ve gotten sick alongside a map produced by the Safecast API that could help create clarity around the issues of depleted uranium and the purported increase in cancer and birth defect rates. We started to devise a plan to connect his NGO with the hackerspace in Iraq called Fikra Space to assist in taking the bGeigie out into Basra for samples. I work with a hackerspace crew in Iraq called Fikra Space and I suggested that we gather a team from the hackerspace and train them for future work in Basra. So after the PeaceTech camp ended I headed out to Baghdad and met up with the Fikra Space to run a radiation mapping workshop."


5. Life could exist not just on planets outside the solar system, but moons.

"This paper outlines the first attempt to produce climate models of exomoons which possess all the above sources and sinks of energy. We expand on our previous 1D latitudinal energy balance models (LEBMs), which follow the evolution of the temperature on an Earthlike moon orbiting a Jupiterlike planet, by adding planetary illumination. "


Today's 1957 American English Usage Tip

bathetic, bathotic. These are made in imitation of patheticchaotic; but pathetic s not analogous, & chaotic is itself irregular. An adjective for bathos is, however, almost a necessity to the literary critic, & the OED states that bathetic is 'A favorite word with reviewers'; it is the better of the two.


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By Adding Planetary Illumination

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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