More than Willing2.0

Innovation is a damn tricky thing, a word really easy to use but really hard to evidence.

I don’t think people on public social networks engaging in shared exploration who best to weld technology onto education are innovators. There are plenty of people who harvest ideas and information more than they do create it. Let’s not forget, plenty of social media messages are little more than advertising messages. Innovation isn’t popularity.

Innovation starts with people looking to not innovate, but understand the need for innovation. If they are using Twitter, they’ll be using it not to advertise their next Web2.0 Workshop, but to scan the horizon and find others to be stakeholders in their ideas, never consumers or buyers.

Let me poke a few people here. @teachpaperless, @pgsimoes, @kzenovka, all three are innovators, but in different ways. They not only make stuff, they also create plaforms from which other people make even more useful-stuff (not more of the same stuff).

They know stimulating ideas lead to an incubation period where they (and others) make prototypes, fail, try again, improve and talk about better ideas. Ultimately they are smart enough to know if what they (and their friends) are doing has a potential to scale – and only @teachpaperless has a beard.

My point is, that social networks do not create, or carry sufficient information for anyone to know if they are innovative or not. In many ways social is dead, many of the innovators have made sufficient connections (See Stephen Downes), to only need the most convenient process to check their ideas are not dead-yet. The tragedy of spending life with non-innovators is that they’ll flog a dead ideas, rather than innovate.

Users might become more enlightened, or be able to remember new and interesting facts – but that isn’t how the world get’s re-jigged. Radical ideas create ‘roots’ – as that’s where the word comefroms. It’s okay to Tweet radical verbose rally calls, but are you backing that up with new roots – or are you trying to harvest the crop of people what are more than Willing2.0 to buy into last years ideas.

Innovation, according to Steve Collis is something like this

“No program. No tests. No teacher talk. No outcomes. No bureaucracy. The students will show up on day 1, and will begin to define their own learning pathway as they find clarity regarding where they want to go.”

Now that is clearly the work of a deranged mad-mad. Not satisfied with blogging it, he made a video, to explain this utter insanity.

How do we know this nut-bag can pull this off? – How about looking at the last idea that he scaled?

So if you are looking for innovation, you don’t see it on the news, you have to dig it up – and more importantly connect. I first bumped into Steve wandering around Second Life years ago – and guess what he was talking about? – the same thing in his G.A.T video … innovators are pathologically driven, often for years – and that’s why they are so interesting … if you are lucky, we occasionally see glimpses of their thoughts in their tweets or blogs … but it’s only when you see what they did at scale – do most people even notice it.

The last people to be informed will always be human resources – they are too busy Googling people still.

From innovation to the grave

Do you subscribe to the bell curve theory? The one that talks about 3% of people being innovators and 14% early adopters etc.? I don’t. It’s too fatalistic and generalised. I doubt those measuring it have sufficient access to innovators as I’ll explain, and generally use their world view to determine a false innovation datum point.

Determinism likes to talk about emerging technologies – things appearing from the fog that hides innovation. “Aha!” they say, “there’s some innovation” and start trying to measure it from the high-church of their own belief. Others are just amplifiers, which doesn’t bother the innovator one bit, like when they were kids, the TV was always on, but they just kept building their robot anway.

Here’s the thing about people who like to innovate. They don’t label it and are very hard to spot.

They’ve been doing it all their lives and learned early that most of what they tinker with should and will be consigned to their grave-yard .

Every innovator has one – a hugh junk pile of objects, ideas and train-wrecks made from all manner of things. They are not about to subscribe to the innovation to integration idea, let alone see their efforts and ideas be plotted on someone else’s bell curve. They are more likely to have built an iPhone app and ditched it than worry which one is the best.

They like social-cyphers. There’s nothing worse that someone with a measuring stick trying to weigh your experiments.

The 3% of people are more likely to be people writing or trying to interpret innovation than actually doing it in order to avoid the slide to early majority of the imagined bell-curve  and currently quite lucrative it seems.

Meanwhile, the innovators are building more robots – and watching their experiments in society to see what happens because they know world can always be improved. Since childhood, they’ve used innovation to generate knowledge of how the world works and what’s in it. People are a useful variable – if slightly tricky to deal with.

Innovators subscribe to performance before graveyard methods.

History is littered with seemingly un-qualified people who have achieved amazing things this way. Most of what ends up commercialised has been wrested away from innovators, and in their view, usually ruined. You might see a computer genius who now prefers to paint squares endlessly in his mansion. It’s the painting that matters, not the mansion – but they are smart enough to enjoy a bonus.

This isn’t to say innovators are a un-educated, rebels without a cause. They are and do. In pursuit of their goal, they will tick every box needed to achieve their goal as they know eventually, they will succeed.

They don’t become bored because they’ve learned to pay attention to what they are doing and make it meaningful. They accept life presents great periods of grunt work that needs to be done in order to fund the experiments.

Innovators are adept at blending in unlike amplifiers who make a lot of noise. They never stop paying attention to their experiments and if it suits them to hide in crowd, so be it.

They’ve been paying attention to what technology can do for their experiments, and we’re probably on usenet posting messages to alt.cyberpunk at the age of 12. They understood the network effect way before the World Wide Web existed. They noticed it in history class, reading about Panzer commanders and consigned that observation to the grave-yard until it became useful.

The Internet is the perfect billion person hide out, easily defended, easily encoded – and almost impossible to see unless they want you to.

The keyboard and mouse is dead

Okay, there a moments where you just fall off your chair and say – that is going to change everything. The keyboard and mouse just died. This technology, along with things that many teachers are never even knew happened – like QR codes – is a great example of just how irrelevant so much of the debate around  “will we/won’t we” and “moving towards”  is and how fast third horizon technologies evolve. The real question now is – do we still need caves.


This video demonstrates the functionality and potential applications of Predator, an object tracking algorithm that simultaneously tracks, learns and detects an unknown object in real-time.
– human-computer interfaces
– security and games
– improvement of image search
– object-centric stabilisation

More information can be found at