I went to the Economist's Innovation Awards last night. It was held at the Science Museum, which was a fantastic venue for the awards - surrounded by random world changing inventions. They had a fondness for pointing out the world's first Telegraph machine, but there were lots of interesting props around the building.
Most award ceremonies I go to do not really award based on things that have a real impact. However this one did.
The winners also gave a little speech. Most of them, admittedly, were along the lines of 'thanks for the award but I couldn't be bothered to turn up'. One of the people who gave a proper speech was Jimmy Wales.
His point was that he didn't invent anything, he just used existing things in a new way and that's what innovation is. That's exactly what these awards were about. Thinking about it in this way, there's very few major world changing inventions that have come about in the last twenty years.
It's hard to think of any examples. The ones I would usually think of:
- Mobile Phones (more than twenty years old)
- LCD screens (more than twenty years old)
- Even the web is more than twenty years old (I'll take Mosaic as the starting point)
- Search is older than twenty years (Altavista was the start?)
- Hybrid cars are from the 70s
We're due something properly new. Hope it comes soon!
(image from Zinkwazi's photostream)