Creating the world in…

I really thought the discussion in class today about people creating based on preexisting items instead of creating a brand new object was interesting. And if you stop and think about it…. what’s happened in the last 10 years or even the last 20 thats really been “new?”

Google, which according to Digg is in line to pass Microsoft in value by 2010, is not something new. Its taking a search engine, document engine, web tools, chat, and social networking and rolling them into new and more accessible objects.  World of Warcraft, which is arguably the must successful video game on the market (currently) is based on Everquest and all of the other major games that came about in the past (and of course Everquest 2 is based on WoW.)

Getting away from my usual video game examples… We are being taught that a very important aspect of design, is to base design on an existing item and then strengthen it. Not only does it make it easier to justify using the new artifact, but it makes the process easier. This of course raises the question, how many new thoughts are there really to be had? I mean we’re working on this grand process for the homeless for CHI. Every group has at one point or another touched on an idea that A: already exists, B: another group has touched on, and C: well I’m not sure I have a C. But it was a good thought.

I guess it almost seems like we’re saying improvement is better than invention. And the inventors out there? Well…


Lets be honest. They’re just redesigning old shit anyway. Anyone want to buy a blender?


  1. laurabrunetti

    “I guess it almost seems like we’re saying improvement is better than invention.”
    Are we really saying it’s better or that that latter is just not possible?

  2. laurabrunetti

    One question I have is how do poststructuralists address the notion of the beginning of time, so to speak? I was trying to play through this scenario by, say, asking about what about the first man and/or woman? Well, a poststructuralist could then say he/she/they are borrowing and reorganizing what is around them in nature. But then what about that very first day on earth? I guess then also we may be getting into religion here and asking what is the relationship between poststructuralism and religious views?

    I know this may seem kind of silly, but sometimes philosophically you have to explore these extremes (actually, I think most times philosophy not only encourages this but thrives on it).

  3. thismarty

    Penicillin, Special Relativity, the laser – all sorts of things are created fresh and new by inventors who weren’t synthesizing at all.

    This whole “nothing new under the sun” wag has always struck me as sophism. Sure, you can walk back and find analogs to describe any new invention, but that doesn’t mean that the inventor actually drew from those things as sources of inspiration.

  4. mingxian

    when I read this post, I remember something about Cost-Benefit analysis. Let’s think about movie industry for a while and think which good movie has no followed serial II, III or even VI?

    A professor for my another class gave us some numbers when she talked about Cost-Benefit Analysis:
    The Lord of the Rings:
    The fellowship of the ring Budget is $109M the profit is $860.7M
    The Two Towers Budget is $94 the profit is $920.5
    The Return of the king Budget is $94 the profit is $1129.2

    Why the 3rd could spend less money and get more profit then the first one? I guess it is because the accumulated reputation from the first and second.

    Couldn’t the directors come up some new characters and scenarios to make totally new ones instead of serial II, III? The answer is yes,they could. But why they need to create a totally new one??? If the new one could not guarantee a success?

    If the numerical representation, modularity and automation makes the “creative process” easier, more efficient and productive, why we are always looking for totally authentic creative?

    On the other hand, even though it is not authentic creative, I believe that creative exists somewhere when you make a choice, a judgment. How could things could re-used in a totally different order. Creative was invented by a more smooth way and evolved over time and by different people consciously or unconsciously. When we look back thirty years, we could find the huge difference between what we have now and at that time, even though we don’t think there is something new compared with things we used yesterday.

  5. Mike Madison

    I think it would be interesting to define what “new” invention really is. There were other antibiotics if I’m not mistaken when penicillin came out. And by came out, I mean was accidentally discovered, much the same way Champagne was. At least someone was able to come up with a few examples =)

    Good use of Lord of the Rings!!!

  6. thismarty

    Of course there were other antibiotics like Penicillin when it came out. Probably thousands, maybe more. But they were all being used by bacteria.

    Penicillin is generally considered the archetype of life-made antibiotics. There were hints and false starts, but The Big P will always be the darling, accidentally-discovered, first-refined-and-used prototypic antibiotic. At least that’s what all of my Microbiology professors thought. Of course, they didn’t have Wikipedia …

    Anyway, there’s my point again, in my first sentence above. Everything comes from something. Everything is a reformulation of something. But if the something we draw the line back to is not consciously used as source material or is fairly elemental or isn’t a priori at all, then we’re just playing semantics when we imply say that it isn’t “new”. We’ve already neutered the word “objectivity” all semester long, can’t we leave poor, defenseless “new” alone?


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