(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘industry

“If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.”*…

From the Wright Brothers’ patent filings (source)

… It’s illuminating to point out that all three transformative technologies of the twentieth century – aviation, the automobile, and the digital computer – started off in patent battles and required a voluntary suspension of hostilities (a collective decision to ignore patents) before the technology could truly take hold.

The Wright brothers won every patent case they fought, and it did them absolutely no good. The prospect of a fortune wasn’t what motivated them to build an airplane, but ironically enough they could have made a fortune had they just passed on the litigation. In 1905, the Wrights were five years ahead of any potential competitor, and posessed a priceless body of practical knowledge. Their trade secrets and accumulated experience alone would have made them the leaders in the field, especially if they had teamed up with Curtiss. Instead, they got to watch heavily government-subsidized programs in Europe take the technical lead in airplane design as American aviation stagnated.

If you are someone who believes that the Internet and computer software are a transformative technology on a par with aviation, you may find it interesting to note that there is now a patent cease-fire in effect in the world of software, the occasional high-profile infringement case notwithstanding. The reason for the cease-fire is simple: if companies like IBM, Xerox, and Sun were to begin fully enforcing their patent portfolios, it would mean an apocalypse of litigation for all software developers. Everyone understands that the health and growth of the Internet are contingent on ignoring the patent system as much as possible.

At the same time, more patents are being granted than ever before, for broader claims, and with an almost complete disregard for prior art. Entire companies – and not just legal firms – are basing business models on extracting money from the patent system without actually creating any products. And the boundaries of patent law are expanding. For the first time in history, it’s possible to patent pure mathematical ideas (in the form of software patents), or even biological entities. The SARS virus was patented shortly after being isolated for the first time.

But if the patent system doesn’t even work for the archetypal example – two inventors, working alone, who singlehandedly invent a major new technology – why do we keep it at all? Who really benefits, and who pays?…

Learning from (the unhappy experiences of) the Wright Brothers– Maciej Cegłowski explains why the U.S. patent system is counter-productive: “100 Years of Turbulence.” Eminently worthy of reading in full.

See also, Bruce Perens: “Software Patents vs. Free Software.”

* Bill Gates, Challenges and Strategy Memo, Microsoft, May 16, 1991

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As we apply our intellects to intellectual property, we might recall that it was on this date in 1976 that Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Ronald Wayne signed a partnership agreement that established the company that would become Apple Computer, Inc.– a company all about the IP– on January 3, 1977.

Wayne left the partnership eleven days later, relinquishing his ten percent share for $2,300.

Apple in Steve Job’s parents’ home on Crist Drive in Los Altos, California. Although it is widely believed that the company was founded in the house’s garage, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak called it “a bit of a myth”. Jobs and Wozniak did, however, move some operations to the garage when the bedroom became too crowded.

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“I used to work in a fire hydrant factory. You couldn’t park anywhere near the place.”*…

 

industrial photography

In 1966, German photographers Hilla and Bernd Becher set out in a Volkswagen for six months to photograph the monolithic architecture of coal mines in England and South Wales. In tow was their toddler, Max; their 8×10 camera; and a darkroom housed in a caravan. The couple had married five years earlier, beginning a four-decade-long partnership from which an entire school of photography would develop, hallmarked by its deadpan, studious view of the world and often rigorous sets of rules…

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More of Hilla and Bernd Becher’s work, and a consideration of its impact, at “The Photographer Couple Who Turned Industrial Architecture into Fine Art.”

See also the Tate’s appreciation.

* Steven Wright

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As we try to find art in commerce, we might recall that it was on this date in 1908 that Harvard University established the Harvard Business School.  Originally created by the humanities faculty, it received independent status in 1910, and became a separate administrative unit in 1913.

This school of business and public administration was originally conceived as a school for diplomacy and government service on the model of the French Ecole des Sciences Politiques. The goal was an institution of higher learning that would offer a master of arts degree in the humanities field, with a major in business. In discussions about the curriculum, the suggestion was made to concentrate on specific business topics such as banking, railroads, and so on… the school would train qualified public administrators whom the government would have no choice but to employ, thereby building a better public administration…    [source: Esther Yogev, “Corporate Hand in Academic Glove: The New Management’s Struggle for Academic Recognition—The Case of the Harvard Group in the 1920s,” American Studies International (2001)]

But in the event, things took a different turn: just as Harvard’s medical school trained doctors and its law faculty trained lawyers, its new business school blazed a new trail by educating young people for a career in commerce.  Indeed, from the start, HBS enjoyed a close relationship with the corporate world.  Within a few years of its founding, many of its alumni became business leaders and began hiring graduates and other alumni for positions in their firms… a practice that has continued– and grown– to this day.

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Baker Library at HBS

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

April 8, 2020 at 1:01 am

“Life is one big road with lots of signs”*…

 

Hay

 

(R)D has looked before at the remarkable work of the Farm Security Administration, which was launched in the New Deal to help relieve crippling poverty in rural communities.  As small part of that mission, the organization documented life in the the communities in which it worked….

These photos naturally included many road scenes, as the Great Depression had plunged rural America into a great migratory frenzy.

The photographs taken by FSA photographers under the direction of economist Roy Stryker have come to form the basis for the popular image of the Great Depression, among them Dorthea Lange’s Migrant Mother.

But I’m sure you familiar with that photo. What I want to share with you are some of the more striking images of cars and roadside life that also make up part of the collection, which the Library of Congress has digitized and made available on Flickr.

These photos capture a country on the move, attempting to make its way out of the worst financial crisis it had ever seen and into a productive future. This is intentional, of course. The photographs were intended to “introduce America to Americans” and instill pride in the country as it shook itself out of the depression…

Lincoln

More at: These Color Photos From the New Deal Show What Life On The Road Once Was Like.”  Visit the Flickr archive here.

* Bob Marley

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As we motor on, we might recall that it was on this date in 1908, at the at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit, “Model T 001”– the first production Model T– rolled off the line.  (On May 26, 1927, Henry Ford watched the 15 millionth Model T Ford roll off the assembly line at his factory in Highland Park, Michigan.)

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1908 Ford Model T ad

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

September 27, 2019 at 1:01 am

“All things are subject to decay and when fate summons, monarchs must obey”*…

 

from Startape PhotoGraff, Flickr

 

from 95wombat, Flickr

 

From the collection of over 11,000 photos in the Flickr pool “Old Factories and Industrial Decay Around the World.”

* John Dryden

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As we celebrate the beauty in the ephemeral, we might recall that it was on this date in 1997 that Ian Wilmut, Keith Campbell, and their colleagues at the Roslin Institute (part of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland) announced that they had successfully cloned a sheep, Dolly, who had been born on July 5, 1996. Dolly lived her entire life at the Institute, where (bred with a Welsh mountain ram) she gave birth to six lambs. She died in February, 2003.

Dolly’s taxidermied remains

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

February 22, 2015 at 1:01 am

And that’s a lot…

 

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From the cornucopia that is Network Awesome:

Buckminster Fuller – Everything I Know

In 1975 Buckminster Fuller gave a series of lectures concerning his entire life’s work. These lectures span 42 hours and examine all of Fuller’s major inventions and discoveries.

During the last two weeks of January 1975 Buckminster Fuller gave an extraordinary series of lectures concerning his entire life’s work. These thinking out loud lectures span 42 hours and examine in depth all of Fuller’s major inventions and discoveries from the 1927 Dymaxion house, car and bathroom, through the Wichita House, geodesic domes, and tensegrity structures, as well as the contents of Synergetics. Autobiographical in parts, Fuller recounts his own personal history in the context of the history of science and industrialization. The stories behind his Dymaxion car, geodesic domes, World Game and integration of science and humanism are lucidly communicated with continuous reference to his synergetic geometry. Permeating the entire series is his unique comprehensive design approach to solving the problems of the world. Some of the topics Fuller covered in this wide ranging discourse include: architecture, design, philosophy, education, mathematics, geometry, cartography, economics, history, structure, industry, housing and engineering…

Network Awesome is featuring one part of the series starting each Wednesday, here (and in their archive).  Or readers can turn to YouTube.  In either case, the pieces are bite-sized…   and well worth the watching.

 

As we endeavor to “think outside the dome,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1974– as Fuller was agreeing to do the lectures featured above– that Paul Anka hit #1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 with “(You’re) Having My Baby.”

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