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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Innovation is overrated

Steven Shapin writes entertainingly in the New Yorker about our futuristic vision of innovation on which we impose several layers of mistakes link here. He goes on to consider how much we depend on old technology. A striking example was that we went to war on the ground in Afghanistan on horseback, following up on B-52 bombing runs, after being highly dependent on horses and mules in World War II. He draws heavily on "The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History Since 1900" (Oxford; $26), by David Edgerton, a well-known British historian of modern military and industrial technology. New or old , the defining characteristic of current technology is whether it is useful.

He then calls our attention to "technological palimpsests," old technology that gets reshaped and refurbished to perform new uses and how dependent we are on it and how important the role of maintenance is in keeping our economy running.

This is a clever off-beat view of innovation, entailing a re-evaluation of what is really important in how we live our lives, fundamentally questioning how important innovation really is, and indirectly, the cult of intellectual property. Read it and change your mindset.


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