10th aug, 2010

To stand on the shoulders of giants you need …giants.

I read a July column from the Guardian threatening to lure the readers into beliving that copying is the new innovation. In the column Oliver Burkemann argue that the fact that there are numerous examples of “copycats” being more successful than the originals show that it pays to be a copycat. He uses Ipod and Coca Cola as examples of this. 


True the Ipod is a rip-off of the MP3 player and its Walkman predecessor. That does not mean that there is no unique inventiveness in the Ipod – design and business model to name two. 


Coca Cola is not the first “cola” beverage but used a different recipe and has introduced new standards of branding. 


So neither of these was the lightbulb or the wheel, but there is a lot of innovation in the products and it is a shame to call them copycat products. Instead it is better to recognize the innovation in improving the work of others. I myself have many of my inspirations from the work of others, and I don’t think of myself as a copycat. In order to stand on the shoulders of giants (in the words of Newton) you need a giant and even then getting on the shoulders is no picnic either. 

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