Note — Jul 03, 2022

The Innovation Delusion

Full disclosure: I had 3-4 articles I was considering as the last featured piece, wondering which should go here and which should just be a quote below, I ended up picking this short article about The Innovation Delusion, a book by technology historians Lee Vinsel and Andrew L Russell. The book is a couple years old but it’s one that’s been circulating around maintenance and in the context of the above two articles, with commons and investment, it’s a great fit. It’s basically the tug between speed and ‘innovation,’ and maintenance, care, and true slow innovation. We need a lot more of the latter.

Vinsel and Russell make a distinction between innovation hype, which they dub innovation-speak, and actual innovation. Much like maintenance, actual innovation is done quietly and only acknowledged once a breakthrough is made. Hype is what makes the headlines and you hear about from your uncle at the BBQ (“is AI really going to kill us all???”). […]

Preemptively fixing systems, practicing gratitude for what we have, and turning away from optimizing time, material, and energy towards growth and instead towards preservation seems nearly impossible in today’s tech industry. […]

Creating a maintenance culture is more than just investing in maintenance (raising salaries for workers, etc). It’s about creating a culture where people’s input is valued and there is time to devote to a backlog of tasks.