The Pursuit of Accidents

Posted by on Apr 15, 2008 in Social Media, Technology, Twitter | No Comments

I’ve been a fan of Evan Williams for a long time. Evan is the founder of Blogger (sold to Google), Odeo (ran into the iTunes juggernut), and now the super hip Twitter. The above sketch is neat in and of itself on many different levels, and eventually became Twitter, got me thinking about an article I read several months ago in the Economist called The Accidental Innovator:

Evan Williams accidentally stumbled upon three insights. First, that genuinely new ideas are, well, accidentally stumbled upon rather than sought out; second, that new ideas are by definition hard to explain to others, because words can express only what is already known; and third, that good ideas seem obvious in retrospect.

The article goes on to note:

The irony of trying to plan accidents, and orchestrate their frequent occurrence, is not lost on Mr Williams. So he tries mental tricks. One is to ask “what can we take away to create something new?” A decade ago, you could have started with Yahoo! and taken away all the clutter around the search box to get Google. When he took Blogger and took away everything except one 140-character line, he had Twitter. Radical constraints, he believes, can lead to breakthroughs in simplicity and entirely new things.

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