I just finished listening to Walter Isaacson’s book The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution on Audible. The book walks the reader (or listener) through the many innovations of the digital revolution.
Isaacson’s theme and my major takeaway from the book is that the digital revolution cannot be traced to one person. From Steve Jobs to Robert Noyce to Alan Turing to Ada Lovelace, the digital age came about and continues to grow by building on the innovations that came before it.
Isaacson points to collaborative environments with a diversity of people and skill sets like Bell Labs and MIT as models that fostered key innovative breakthroughs during the infrastructure period of the digital age.
Over the last 40 years, I believe Silicon Valley has served as the collaborative environment that has fueled the latest innovations (chips, e-commerce, web 2.0, mobile devices/apps, social, sharing economy, etc).
Today, you can see how the ecosystem is using Facebook and mobile devices/app stores to push new innovations forward. There also appears to be a renaissance of the lab concept with app development shops popping up such as Kevin Rose’s North.
So what’s next? My guess is the next set of innovations (5+ years) will be built on top of today’s innovations: Uber, wearables, drones, Oculus and Bitcoin. Regardless, Isaacson would argue they will come from collaborative environments that feature diversity of people and skill sets. I tend to agree with him.