What Innovation Really Is

Asymco’s latest deconstructs the problem society has understanding innovation, as compared to novelty, creation and invention.


  I define innoveracy as the inability to understand creativity and the role it plays in society… The definition of innovation is easy to find but it’s one thing to read the definition and another to understand its meaning. Rather than defining it again, I propose using a simple taxonomy of related activities that put it in context:



Novelty: Something new
Creation: Something new and valuable
Invention: Something new, having potential value through utility
Innovation: Something new and uniquely useful



To illustrate further, here are some examples of the concepts.

Novelties: The choice of Gold as a color for the iPhone; the naming of a version of Android as “Kit Kat”; coining a new word.
Creations: The fall collection of a fashion designer; a new movie; a blog post.
Inventions: Anything described by a patent; The secret formula for Coca Cola.
Innovations: The iPhone pricing model; Google’s revenue model; The Ford production system; Wal-Mart’s store design; Amazon’s logistics.

What Innovation Really Is

Asymco’s latest deconstructs the problem society has understanding innovation, as compared to novelty, creation and invention.

I define innoveracy as the inability to understand creativity and the role it plays in society… The definition of innovation is easy to find but it’s one thing to read the definition and another to understand its meaning. Rather than defining it again, I propose using a simple taxonomy of related activities that put it in context:

  • Novelty: Something new
  • Creation: Something new and valuable
  • Invention: Something new, having potential value through utility
  • Innovation: Something new and uniquely useful

To illustrate further, here are some examples of the concepts.

  • Novelties: The choice of Gold as a color for the iPhone; the naming of a version of Android as “Kit Kat”; coining a new word.
  • Creations: The fall collection of a fashion designer; a new movie; a blog post.
  • Inventions: Anything described by a patent; The secret formula for Coca Cola.
  • Innovations: The iPhone pricing model; Google’s revenue model; The Ford production system; Wal-Mart’s store design; Amazon’s logistics.
A ‘VISUAL FINGERPRINT’ OF HITCHCOCK’S VERTIGO

From interaction designer Brendan Dawes comes Cinema Redux, a software-cum-art-thingy that outputs the DNA of a film:


  Created in 2004 and acquired for the MoMA permanent collection in 2008, Cinema Redux creates a single visual distillation of an entire movie; each row represents one minute of film time, comprised of 60 frames, each taken at one second intervals. The result is a unique fingerprint of an entire movie, born from taking many moments spread across time and bringing all of them together in one single moment to create something new.

A ‘VISUAL FINGERPRINT’ OF HITCHCOCK’S VERTIGO

From interaction designer Brendan Dawes comes Cinema Redux, a software-cum-art-thingy that outputs the DNA of a film:

Created in 2004 and acquired for the MoMA permanent collection in 2008, Cinema Redux creates a single visual distillation of an entire movie; each row represents one minute of film time, comprised of 60 frames, each taken at one second intervals. The result is a unique fingerprint of an entire movie, born from taking many moments spread across time and bringing all of them together in one single moment to create something new.

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FACEBOOK USHERS IN THE ATTENTION AGE

  • [In December 2002, Harvard students Cameron Winklevoss, Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra conceive of an exclusive private college social network that would later become "ConnectU." In the fall of 2003, they hire a young student named Mark Zuckerberg to work on the website. In January of 2004, Zuckerberg registers a domain for a similar website called "TheFacebook.com" that would promptly launch the following month, embroiling ConnectU and Facebook in years of legal battles—and a an award-winning film, scripted by Aaron Sorkin, that contains perhaps one of the greatest metaphors around the transition of the Information Age to the Attention Age... It is highlighted below with asterisks.]
  • ATTORNEY (FOR THE WINKLEVOSSES): Were you leading them on for six weeks?
  • MARK ZUCKERBERG: Nope.
  • ATTORNEY: Then why didn’t you raise any of these concerns before?
  • MARK: ... It's raining.
  • ATTORNEY: I'm sorry?
  • MARK: It started raining.
  • ATTORNEY: Mr. Zuckerberg, do I have your full attention?
  • MARK: No.
  • ATTORNEY: Do you think I deserve it?
  • MARK: What.
  • ATTORNEY: **Do you think I deserve your full attention?**
  • MARK: I had to swear an oath before we began this deposition and I don’t want to perjure myself so I have a legal obligation to say no.
  • ATTORNEY: Okay. No. You don’t think I deserve your attention?
  • MARK: I think if your clients want to stand on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have a right to give it a try. **You have part of my attention—you have the minimum amount.** The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook where my employees and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients are intellectually or creatively capable of doing.