“We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.”
This meme speaks of the innovation occurring in the world of technology. It seems that we are making fewer major innovations (flying cars) compared with the world-changing innovations that are really only minor in terms of technological breakthroughs (like Twitter’s 140 characters).
When reading, “The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation,” it’s clear that the multitude step changes brought about at Bell Labs (eg OSS, transistors, lasers, solar cells, satellites, communication theory, Unix operating system, the C and C++ programming languages, etc) and British Telecom during the mid 1900’s bears no comparison to our current innovation-in-software age.
Bell Labs and BT had the benefit of guaranteed revenues through monopoly of the telecommunications market to drive almost unfettered fundamental research to drive the technology revolution.
Is the corresponding slow-down in OSS innovation occurring due to OSS maturing? After all, we’ve had alarm management, performance management, inventory management, traffic management, service order management, provisioning, etc for years now. If we had’ve needed something else, would we have already thought of it through necessity?
Yet as OSS nears 50 (the first OSS were developed in the 1970’s) it feels like we need step quantum even more than incremental change to remain releoant and deliver what our customers need. There are plenty of incremental changes to make through virtualisation, machine learning, massive data processing, etc but have all the massive innovations already been uncovered? Do we need a Bell Labs or BT style of funding on fundamental research rather than competition across a fragmented vendor market to innovate us to where we need to get to?Read the Passionate About OSS Blog for more or Subscribe to the Passionate About OSS Blog by Email