New technology vs old rules…
Last Friday, my partner, Karen, and I sat down to rewatch Back to the Future II, only to find a. we had never actually seen it before and, b. this wasn’t a bad thing, given some of the acting, dialogue and plotting. There has been a big fuss in the old and new media about how accurate the movie’s 2015 sequence turned out to be: the video communication system looked surprisingly close to a Skype/Facebook hybrid, but sadly we haven’t got the hover boards, unless you count the rather earth-bound Swegway (above right).
I saw someone trundling along our local cycle path on one of these this morning. He was probably breaking the law as they can’t be ridden on public highways according to the Highway Act of 1835.
Yep, you read that right. 1835.
OK, all the attempts at revolutionary personal transport from the Sinclair C5 onwards have been a bit pants, but that’s how innovation works. Version 1.0 of anything is a bit pants (the original iPhone had no video capability, already standard on other phones), but version 2.0 generally starts to be useful. But we need to get demand going for those early versions in order to get to up the innovation S-curve.
If we are strangling innovative ideas at birth with legislation set down 180 years ago, no wonder we get stuck in the old, high carbon ways of thinking. Maybe the Swegway is the start of something useful, but we’ll probably never find out.
If the rules don’t work, let’s change the rules!