[p2p-research] Building Alliances (invention vs. innovation)

Paul D. Fernhout pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com
Sat Nov 7 04:48:36 CET 2009

Ryan Lanham wrote:
> On Fri, Nov 6, 2009 at 7:49 PM, Paul D. Fernhout <
> pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com> wrote:
>> To invent something takes enough money to stare out of the window for
>> years, which is a lot to an individual, but not much in the scheme of
>> things.
>> To take an invention, and dominate the marketplace with it, calling it an
>> innovation, that generally take a lot of capital. :-) And it seems to me,
>> that is more what Andrew is talking about.
>> It's easy to confuse the two.
> The laws surrounding invention are well established.  They tie fundamentally
> to the ideas of property and ownership.  My guess is that if one disputes
> the ideas of property and ownership rights, one will not make much sense of
> invention.

I don't see how you get to that. When Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals or 
the Franklin stove, I think he was just trying to make the world a better 
place and ease the burdens on people around him or increase their comfort 
and happiness. He refused to patent them on purpose.
"Benjamin Franklin developed a new style of stove with a hoodlike enclosure 
in the front and an airbox in the rear. The new stove and reconfiguration of 
the flues allowed for a more efficient fire, one that used one quarter as 
much wood and generated twice as much heat. When offered a patent for the 
fireplace's design, Benjamin Franklin turned it down. He did not want to 
make a profit. He wanted all people to benefit from his invention."

> Innovation, by comparison, is a messy term that usually is linked in
> economic literatures to productivity improvements.  Output changes may be
> influenced by inventions but they may be influenced by other things as
> well...better processes for instance, which are generally not
> inventions...though they legally may be.
> If you are not going to subscribe to economics or law conventions, you've
> simply got to define your terms.  Else, no one can make sense of any of it.

I linked to two Wikipedia articles. :-)

> Without a theory of market, I have no idea how you measure output changes in
> relationship to utility.   The crisis of P2P political theory is that it
> doesn't know what it wants to ask for.  Underneath it needs to be happiness
> theory (e.g. a Dalai Lama sort of idealism) or utility theory, or equity
> theory or something that is a goal set.  Without that, we generate noise in
> a dark vacuum to no effect.  What do we want to happen?

I prefer an aesthetic measurement. :-)

As I see it, most decisions come down to aesthetics. :-)

> VC firms are trying to realize one goal only--economic returns.  

Agreed. Except even there, personal interests can come into play...

Money is a tool. Some people know how to use it well to effect social 
change. Others treat money like an end in itself.

> A
> foundation like the B & M Gates Foundation is striving to solve certain
> well-stated problems.  

Or have they picked the problems because they relate to other goals or values?

> Governments are generally in relatively unclear

Constitutions? Judicial rulings?

> businesses...that's why a lot of people don't like them spending money.


> Right now, P2P theory is like a government.  No one can be sure it is trying
> to do something positive.

I'm not sure the theory aspect of it matters? Maybe I just don't see where 
you are coming from on this.

--Paul Fernhout

More information about the p2presearch mailing list