Innovating in a window ("winnovating")

Designer's notes #17 - Home - Prev - Next
Řyvind Teig, Trondheim, Norway (

Always present '?' is for help, but why isn't '!' also always there?

Online help systems [1] have been at our fingertips for many years. I remember, back in the early 1990's that we started to use a "help editor" to create a "help" for the Windows systems that we shipped to customers. The systems were clients, doing man-machine communication, with buttons and menues, and nice curves of pressure samples from rotating diesel engines. The embedded data collecting and computing units were mounted in the ships' engine rooms, while the PCs were in the engine control room. And, the intricacies of the system were detailed for the user, available by pressing the ? question mark button. The help was context sensitive, so that one should get the info needed right then. Not more, not less.

Over the years, we have become accustomed to a computer based unit's context sensitive help system, whenever there's knowledge to reach for.

But, how about the opposite? Some new idea or additional information, some small or large innovation we want to jot down, now! The other direction from the help system, so to say, seen by an ! exclamation mark.

Implementing such an exclamation mark would be difficult. It would contain tools, complex logistics and legal matters. At least the suggestion outlined here.

We talk about context sensitive innovation "in a window". Cast in an idea-editor, especially made for the purpose. More that the "send us feedback" menu entry often found.

When we have jotted down the idea, we would need to store it. An idea-server would handle this for us. It would store the idea where it's supposed to. Like, on my local machine.

Or, you may want to send this idea to the maker of the product or anyone who could handle it.

Sending off good ideas right now is a black hole. The recipient could wrap the idea to oblivion. Therefore, we need an idea-agency or idea-bank, a public and safe place where the idea may be posted. The service should be free, since an agency would get neutral money. The people has understood that it's for the best of all, to have an idea-boiling society.

Now, when a user is able to take advantage of the idea, its source is cast in iron. It's me, and it's my idea that's used. For the user of the idea, "not invented here" could become an asset. "Idea! inside" labeled on the product could display this. People would love these products.

And the user would easily find ideas, through some kind of global idea-portal.

The system should be able to inspire any small or big idea. Jot them down, send them, cast them in iron. And idea-sense would collect money for used (and browsed) ideas.

Of course, this would be sitting above the world's patent system (or..below?), like PayPal uses the banking system to make it easier for the payer.

Did I say that the idea-bank should have an idea-server to handle new ideas coming from reading another person's idea? Stored locally at my machine only, or sent externally to the idea-bank.. So, idea-branching should be catered for. Ideas seldom appear in vacuum. Is an idea the most recursive cognitive pattern in the universe?

Humankind certainly needs to come up with some new ideas. We can't afford to waste one of them!

Except some, that would not serve us..

This naive set of ideas I have never seen before. I have made a pdf of the original version of this file at 17_Innovation_in_a_window_27Aug08.pdf, virtually becoming my safe? idea-bank. Should this not be new, it would certainly be against my knowledge. If so, please mail me. Should my use of words in this note infringe on any trademark etc., rememeber that I use them in a descriptive context only, not pertaining to any such registered use.

This idea is open for use by any. But (disclaimed above): don't think it's your idea! So, give me what's my part of it!

However, it would need much de-naivification!

27.Aug.08 (initial), 16.Jun.09 (spelling)

Other publications at

Feb.09: If you want to comment on this note, please go to my Tech post at
where this note has been mirrored at 005 - Press '?' for help, press '!' for new idea

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