Innovation, random drift & Isaac Newton


HT Gareth and Katy for this lovely animation of how a line drawn by 500 people one after another changes and evolves. HERD fans who've seen the live show might remember a very silly game I've used to make the same poi 
nt [about 6 minutes into this video or right at the end of this oneor after 12 or so minutes here].

Random Drift is the geneticists' term for the kind of change we observe in a population's genes which is driven by a series of neutral [i.e. small accidental] changes [one following another], rather than as the result of important changes in the environment which encouraged the selection of a particular gene over another.

The big moral is this: because we are social creatures who cannot escape the world of others in to which we are born [or indeed turn off our own tendency to copy what's going on around us]  much of what we call new or innovative is really just a miscopy of what's gone before – this despite all our efforts at being creative, original and innovative, 

Of course, you can tell yourself you are different (and gain some kudos from being seen to be so) but maybe you might just follow Isaac Newton's confession:

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Is our rush to encourage and champion [deliberate or intentional] "innovation" perhaps missing the point?






  1. Joel Braskey
    March 18, 2011

    Good post, I always enjoy your posts, keep it up. thanks so much!

  2. Patrick Kugbegah
    July 20, 2011

    Thanks for sharing great.