A post titled misunderstanding innovation by John Gruber irked me recently. It quotes an article by Horace Dediu:
But there is another form of ignorance which seems to be universal: the inability to understand the concept and role of innovation. The way this is exhibited is in the misuse of the term and the inability to discern the difference between novelty, creation, invention and innovation. The result is a failure to understand the causes of success and failure in business and hence the conditions that lead to economic growth.
And Gruber adds:
This is a step toward understanding why so many people get Apple so very wrong. If you don’t understand what innovation really is, you’re not going to understand an innovative company.
My addition is simply to calm down and accept that the argument here is more about semantics than actual human capacity to comprehend concepts.
Yes, Dediu starts with “the inability to understand the concept…” but he then moves quickly into a taxonomy of English language words and synonyms, and how they should ‘correctly’ and hierarchically nestle within each other.
While the argument is valid in an academic sense then, for me it misses the point that they’re trying to make about people not understanding a concept.
I believe people understand things just fine and that the problem lies in the always-ignored fallibility of spoken and written communication. As I wrote yesterday about a latch lock working perfectly fine if it’s used correctly by everyone all the time. It’s just not going to happen.
Misunderstanding is mostly the fault of language.
Shoot the messenger.