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A "procedural" innovation generally leads to either a technological breakthrough (by establishing a need, or "itch to scratch") OR (most often?) leads to a previously-unrealised use for an existing technology - how many times have we seen a technological breakthrough that appeared relatively useless albeit interesting, until somebody recognised a new possibility to change the procedure as a result?

I think I'm agreeing with you, Sig ...

BTW - that's a particularly smug look on your face in the new photo - you were thinking how much it would upset Doug and I weren't you?


Ric, precisely!

Actually I should have added that "to find a real opportunity one must understand and focus on the procedural issues, the technological innovation being merely a necessity".

The discussion started after all with ambitions...

Absolutely, climbing for a couple of hours just to make an annoying portrait - how could I not gloat? :D

BTW, it was about minus10 degrees C but sun and absolutely no wind - perfect!

Angus McDonald


I almost agree with you, except I would argue that many of those making the technological discoveries had in mind different procedural changes than the ones that actually had the greatest impact due to their technological breakthrough.

Intending to change the procedural is a good idea, but the enabler is the technological breakthrough. I see the elevator-to-orbit crowd as in this boat. They know what they want to change about getting to orbit (using a re-usable space elevator as opposed to rockets, spaceplanes, etc), but the key issue is the technology does not yet exist - and (critically) may never.

At least if one has developed a technological breakthrough one is free to explore procedural consequences - the opposite is rarely true.


Angus, you're completely right of course.

One thing we tend to forget is the often substantial time-lag from the enabling technology became available until they were put into (different) service helping procedural changes. Assembly line and "walkman" type devices are good examples.

Suspect the gentlemen behind those saw the procedural change opportunity first, then looked around for suitable technology - that existed given a few tweaks and a couple of add-on technical solutions.

Still I think history shows that it is in the procedural changes the big money lies - thus the subheader about "ambitions" :)

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