Imagining world without Bell: Now let’s ask the question: where would the world be today if Bell hadn’t gone for a walk near the Grand River? Telephone is such an integral part of one's life today that it is difficult to imagine a world without a phone. Malcolm Gladwell begs to differ. In his New Yorker article, he says: World may not have looked very different. If it weren’t Bell then it would have been Gray who would have been known as the inventor of the telephone. In fact, it was Gray who presented his idea at the Philadelphia exhibition before Bell. The two filed notice with the Patent Office in Washington D. C. on the same day, Feb 14, 1876.
What does it mean? Now, one of the three things must be true:
- Either Bell or Gray stole the other’s idea
- It was a freak accident of simultaneous discovery
- It wasn’t a freak accident. Simultaneous discoveries happen routinely.
Ideas are in the air: Insights like the one Bell had on the banks of Grand River are accidents. However, environment is usually pregnant with the idea and metaphorically ideas are floating in the air like clouds. Those who connect with the cloud and many times multiple people do connect; end up discovering them simultaneously. So for “systematic innovation” we should be focused on creating such charged clouds and leave “connections with the cloud” to the serendipitous moments.