Nothing Is New

One thing that has always been of interest to me about the tech community is that when some new product or service comes along, there are invariably members of the peanut gallery that will pipe up with the comment that “that’s not new!”

Most recently this came to my attention in the context of an article about some new tires that the military is going to be using. The tires are not based around compressed air, but a type of honeycomb lattice inside the tire. The benefit is that the tires are essentially bulletproof. This is a big deal because all armored vehicles that are not tanks still use regular old inflated tires, which substantively diminishes the defensibility of the vehicle in the field.

What struck me about the article was how amazing it was to me that this problem had not been solved before, but that I was glad they finally had some solution.

The second thing that struck me was a comment by someone that “its not new.”

Now I have no idea. Maybe this tire has existed for twenty years and the military likes having the tires shot out of their vehicles. Perhaps this really is an example of procurement foolishness. I am no expert on tire construction. But my gut tells me these tires are new, and pass some critical threshold of usability and usefulness.

But the larger issue is that almost invariably, with any new product there are people that will say “we have been doing that for years.”

I find these people fascinating.

It’s the kind of people that claimed that C was not new because they had been programming in assembler for years. It is the people who claimed there was no need for graphical operating systems because we already had the “oh so much better” command line. It is the people (like cmdrTaco on Slashdot) who claimed that there was no difference between the iPods and the earliest music generation.

These are the people that invariably have no sense of what most of us care about or why products are or are not useful. And their background chorus at the launch of almost anything interesting is always a curiosity to me.

Post Author: Ruby H. Rosenbaum

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