Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Is innovation dead?

It's a vague question but in the current rather dire times where the economy seems to be stuck in neutral and you're supposed to "just be happy you have a job at all" it seems that innovation has taken a back seat to survival. When's the last time something at your place of employment was truly an innovation? When was the last time you saw truly innovative programming on one of the big four television networks?

Think about that last one for a minute. This is the year that gave us a second NCIS series on CBS. We were given a spinoff of the animated Family Guy series on FOX. NBC generously gave us a burned out and stale Jay Leno 90 minutes earlier and without a damn desk. ABC even dug up a series from the 80s and re-imagined it - and "V" is back again tonight, it's probably the one retread I actually like. They claim survival is the reason and that this is "what people actually want" but if they were actually in touch they'd know what we truly want or that we're only watching some of those rather pathetic offerings because it's the best of the worst. If they hadn't gone through multiple decades of greed and sure cash, they'd be more willing to innovate.

But it doesn't stop with television. Innovation seems to have come to a standstill in all forms of traditional venues. Radio, outside of The Current locally, sucks. Hell, saying that radio sucks is being generous. Radio, in all its sameness from sea to plastic-filled sea, is less innovative today than it was a decade ago and that's quite a feat.

Most of the blame for the sameness and lack of innovation from traditional venues is placed squarely on the internet. Yes, the internet is a great venue to try an idea for next to nothing in terms of monetary expense but the internet is also vast and can be rather tough to gain traction in terms of what could be considered a mass audience. I have found some success with MinnPics and its unique twist on a photo blog but that's even small potatoes. The big audiences, for whatever reason, still lie with those traditional venues. Maybe it's due to convenience. I can see that because the computer has yet to truly make its way in to the American living room and replace or meld with the television. That time is coming but it will take some level of innovation for a computer/TV hybrid to become mainstream. And then there's the connectivity issue - we're pretty much at the mercy, still, of the cable companies who control high speed internet access. Rather than offer truly high speed access at an affordable price, they price it high enough that it's still cheaper to shell out the bucks for cable television because streaming something full screen is jittery and full of more hiccups than Otis the drunk from good ole' Mayberry, R.F.D.

So while innovation isn't dead it is definitely being stifled by greater powers. After all, if there's money to be made on something old why on Earth would someone spend time, energy and money promoting, developing and being innovative with something new?

Speaking of new, MinnPics has some new photos posted today - even a couple discovered via Twitter. Check it out for yourself.

1 comment:

Jacki said...

To expand on what you say about the internet....People here in the US don't realize it unless they travel to Europe and Asia, but American is extremely behind other nations as far as telecommunications goes, and it all stems from the greed of Verizon, ATT, Sprint, etc. We Americans are willing to shell out tons of $$$ on older, substandard services, so why improve on that? PLUS, if you are unhappy with the service, you have to pay several hundred dollars to cancel your service plan!

That, we are tethered to 2 year contracts, where in other countries (like in Europe) it is against the law to tie people down with long contracts. I think it is 6-month contracts in Denmark, and there is no fee for cancelling early if you are unhappy with the service.

So, really, cellphone and cable companies really don't need to come up with new and improved technology, because we are happy paying $100 for substandard products and services.

//end of rant