Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Creative versus Innovative versus Derivative

Lots of people talk about creating or providing "innovative" solutions. Few people create absolutely new ideas. Some actually innovate. Many more simply provide derivative products (copies of copies...).

We are living in an age when songs composed of samples from older songs are considered "new".  People craft movies from "borrowed" art and wholesale cut-and-paste images and text from other artists. It's a derivative environment, but not necessarily innovative or new.

On the surface, innovation may seem similar to derivation. After all, innovation means taking existing concepts and combining them in unique ways. There is a subtle, but meaningful difference. Here is one example of innovation at work.

I chose the ubiquitous iPhone as my example because it is one of many examples of how well-executed innovation quickly sets the standard. We know what innovation looks like, and how powerful the result can be, so the question is: why do we satisfy ourselves with derivative solutions, and not truly innovative ideas?

There are a three big reasons I can see. One, it's risky. Two, it takes time and effort, beyond the usual budget. Three, it's not just eye candy, but a working combination of many smaller, workable solutions. But still, the payoff is a solution that really charms and excites the user. 
I want to explore my own level of innovation (and derivation) in future posts. 

What do you see when you look at your work? 

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