Build innovation on the shoulders of giants.

Build Innovation with code(love)

Build Innovation with code(love)—image from the Houston Chronicle.

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. – Issac Newton

The basis of the PageRank algorithm, the billion-dollar plus bit of mathematics that powers much of Google’s business was developed at Stanford University in 1996 by Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, but the roots of it came much earlier. Some have argued that it was Gabriel Pinski and Francis Narin who first formalized how to go about analyzing the quality of links—in 1976.

They were able to define a set of metrics for ranking the influence of science journals—which was very handy for a mathematical solution for how to rank the influence of individual websites.

Perhaps it is this that led Francis Narin to publish a paper where he noted that 73% of papers cited by US industry patents were based on public research.

The above photo is a highlight of how the iPod was built on public research.  It may be the ideal framework to build innovation.

The best models for creating new world-changing disruption may come from collaboration, and not competition.

It leads one to believe that to build innovation, one must stand on the shoulders of giants. It also leads one to believe that there should always be public support for those research giants, and that the best models for creating new world-changing disruption may come from collaboration, and not competition.

The author

Roger is an entrepreneur who has co-founded a social network entitled ThoughtBasin that looks to connect students looking to make a difference with organizations looking for difference makers. This experience has given him some setbacks, but also some priceless insights. He is deferring admission from the law school of University of Toronto to pursue his dream of creating impact through entrepreneurship, and he is constantly looking to learn and create, and to do more. He contributes to social entrepreneurship projects with his fellow Global Shapers, coordinates a volunteer tutoring site, and on his off time he unwinds by reading, writing, and dancing---sometimes, all at the same time. Follow him on Twitter at

  • Just watched a lecture for a third year Environment and sustainability course, in which this video was referred to, which is extremely pertinent to this subject matter… Howard Rheingold: Way-new collaboration, TED Talk Feb 2005.

  • Michael Jennings

    Faith in humanity restored. Competition is only good as a form OF collaboration. Kittens wrestle to collaboratively hone each others skills. Mankinds greatest creations and accomplishments and survival is due to the enormous cooperation between people and nations, not competition as many might believe.

  • Enzymepopper

    Collaborative innovations will not be possible if there are no competition. The basic drive for innovation is the need to do things better. Without the competition, there will be no need to create something more useful or profitable. And individuals or organizations will have no incentive to create something that will not be “better”.

  • whatwhat

    I’m still a fan of the watchmen premise. Not the implementation in the book, less with the murder and feeling of impending doom, but a concerted effort to manifest a need external to the human condition to motive the race as a whole to a better place.