Links and articles about technology, design, and sociology. Written by Rian van der Merwe. Follow @RianVDM
Progress, and the difficulty of picking winners in patent law suits
I wasn’t going to say anything else about the Apple v Samsung patent case, but Dmitri Fadeyev’s article The Cult of Progress is just too good to ignore. Dmitri discusses the case through the broad lens of progress in consumer technology, and what that means. Along the way he talks about the dangers of copying a design without knowing why those design decisions were made:
Copying the surface level implementation without the regard for the constraints of your own project is bad because good design in the context of consumer tech products is an optimal reflection of the underlying constraints. Taking the results and applying them to your own product doesn’t work so well because your own case is slightly different. It’s like trying to fit tailored clothes on someone else — there is a chance they will fit OK, but more likely they won’t, or at least won’t be very comfortable to wear.
He goes on to explain how this is the problem with what Samsung did with the Galaxy S phone:
They didn’t succeed in extracting the essence and making it better so what they ended up with is another me-too product. Probably good for sales, but not a product the public would see as being innovative.
But what makes this piece really interesting is that it’s not just another defense of Apple. Dmitri takes a very balanced view and makes the point that it’s hard to pick a “winner” in this case, because we don’t have a good definition of what we mean by progress.
Even if you’re as tired of this topic as I am, you should read Dmitri’s essay. It’s a great addition to the discussion.