From Tech Failures to Tech successes

This video from the RSA really resonated with me.  Tim Harford talks about the challenges of success and how long it takes to reach success by failing over and over again.  It very much reminds me about what is happening in the social media app landscape right now.

Problem solving in a complex world


In the social media world, we are really critical about applications that rise quickly to glory and then fade almost as soon as they appear.  Think about all of those apps you signed up for – apps that you never use now.  Friendster, where are  you now?  Why didn’t we fall upon SixDegrees when it was launched in 1997?  Think about all that hardware you rushed to buy – which is now becoming obsolete. Think about the announcements from Apple earlier this week, which might become obsolete soon.   Think about the development work to make these applications work.  Think about all of the mistakes to make the product better.  Think about all the failures in product design which have been modified and improved.

As Tim mentions, Gutenburg ,who made the moveable type printing press went out of business.  Nobody wanted to buy one of his bibles and his business failed. Thank goodness he persisted.  Thank goodness Tech Bubbles didn’t exist then.  thank goodness Gutenburg built upon his failure and persisted with his printing press, modifying the output until he hit upon something that made him some money. 

This has so many parallels with the Silicon Valley start-ups who innovate, fail, innovate, fail.  It’s a good job they keep on trying.  Their apps might be years ahead of their time…

The Barcode was invented in 1948.  Back then, computers weren’t capable of reading and processing the information.  Complex problems solved – but the infrastructure just wasn’t there.  Now think about barcodes that can now be embedded with social objects and information, a simple app on your smartphone which allows barcodes to become information repositories.  Thank goodness someone gave the barcode a second try.

And some of these obsolete apps will reappear, they’ve failed in their current state, they are being modified, adjusted, and made better.  They are evolving through failure.

And as Tim says, its only through failure, you can eventually succeed. Whether it’s printing presses, toasters or mobile apps. 


Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business.

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.



One thought on “From Tech Failures to Tech successes

  1. Pingback: Failing in a Complex World « Leadership and Management / Turning Adversity to Advantage

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