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Saturday, August 13, 2011

How an Innovation Effort can get it Right, Mostly

A very good post and video about how newspapers saw their future in the early 1990s.   Which describes how  a Knight Ridder innovation group saw the future of the newspaper. They show a format looking and operating much like a tablet device looks today.  The effort reminds me of our own innovation centers, which looked at the interaction of shopper with home and store.  At our innovation center we were fairly sure then about how the future would look and operate. RFID tags on smart shelves and constant retailer orchestrated shelf-shopper interaction in the aisle.  We were wrong about some of the important details.

Watch the linked video for full effect.  Despite the fact that they were using a pen rather than a touch screen, the similarity of their device to an iPad interaction is uncanny.  And they were interested in the additional complexity of interactive advertising.   They knew this would all happen.  What they did not realize was that it would be orchestrated differently.  Hints in the video show that they knew that the user could control the form and context of their content,  but they did not realize the extent to which search would become a dominant metaphor. Or that a user could decide precisely what they saw, essentially writing off the dominance of the newspaper format. Or that there would be strongly competing formats, like blogs, personal 'face pages', newsfeeds or short messages.  All of this would compete with their financial model, threatening their existence.

I note that the Knight Ridder Information Design lab described in the video  was shut down in 1995.  Perhaps too early?  Procter & Gamble's Innovation Centers have flourished and exist worldwide.

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