Innovation: Conceptual vs. Experimental

An interesting theory is being bounced around by a guy named David Galenson. He posits the theory that there are two types of innovators and uses art history as the foundation for the discussion. Interesting read, espcially if you have a bent for art history.

I think it actually fits in nicely with many of the discussions surrounding innovation and the education of said processes.

interesting. i would put myself in the experimental innovator category. i’m a late bloomer. i tend to learn stuff, then over time my head mulls it over and over until i can converge it into something much farther down the line with other stuffed i’ve learned from experience. i prefer to visualize in long-term parameters.

Interesting, I would say that I’m more of the “experimental innovator” same as Kung Fu. Experience from “doing” always fuels my momentum as time passes things become clearer, rather then some explosion of ideas. I enjoy solving problems that have parameters that I have gradually come to understand from experience.

Since this article uses art history it makes me think about “traditions” and how they evolve, how traditions develop a style language that is slowly built over time until is reaches maturity. That’s what I think the “old masters” do they develop a personal style language that takes time to cultivate. I’ve never been much for revelations I’ve always just chip away a problem until I could see the solution, few time has a idea just erupted but I always try to catch them when they happen.

Young geniuses > are conceptual innovators, they express ideas and emotions. Their innovation appears suddenly, as a new idea produces a result different from previous ones. Their talents are abstraction and a simplification of problems. They are mostly recognized and rewarded early in their life, which allows them to develop their art.
Old masters > are experimental innovators, they work by trial and error. Their work is to record their perceptions, they are uncertain on how to do this so their innovation appears gradually, piecemeal in their body of work. Their talents are real, concrete: they solve complex problems with gradually accumulated wisdom. They are often overlooked until they are older - which prevents some to develop their art.

Wired Magazine had a feature on this back in July.

Industrial Designers should fit squarely in the “experimentors” category.