KEEP INVENTING

April 15, 2013   |   Peter Tressel

In 1899, Charles H. Duell, commissioner of the US patent office was quoted as saying “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”  Don’t ever turn into that guy.

Many of us imagine, create, and approve work that lives in the digital space– a landscape that’s seemingly reinvented as fast as I can write this sentence.  What would Mr. Duell have thought of Google?  Of a jillion apps?  How is this change happening, even accelerating 115 years later?

Ironically, much of this change is happening so fast because the environments that consumers use to access the internet have become more standardized and more connected.  Like the Wild West turned into a suburban park.

Intuitive design tied to a level of standardization creates leaps for consumers that make it easier for them to fully adopt change. It’s like rolls of uniform suburban turf.  The iPod, iPhone and iPad are great examples of a beautiful lawn that’s a wonderful and freeing place to play.

We’re really lucky right now because this suburbanization has made consumers startlingly open to new and changeable interfaces (thanks Facebook). Since learning an interface is like learning a language, once we have the basics, speed exponentially increases and we form words into sentences, paragraphs, stories, novels and poetry.  We’re living through that rapid change today and great interfaces are a kind of poetry.

So thanks Facebook, iOS, Pinterest and whatever is next:

  1. For allowing us to take you immediately for granted, and making us completely intolerant of anything that doesn’t work perfectly and intuitively.
  2. For teaching us that change is acceptable and expected.
  3. For making it easy for more people to share more stuff at faster rates of speed.
  4. For creating an environment where a teenager can sell an app to Yahoo! for millions of dollars.
  5. For phones that talk to burglar alarms.  Meaning soon, phones that talk to a patch on a person’s arm that uploads biometric information to a doctor.
  6. For someday helping us take for granted an artificially intelligent computer that will write its own code. Think about that one for a minute next time you review a development estimate.
  7. For eventually making physical computing a mainstream activity.
  8. For helping redefine creativity to include inventing magical and intuitive stuff that has what consumers want, at the right moment, in the right place.

Let’s go invent something…and be sure Mr. Duell never gets too comfortable in his grave.

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