Get Out of Your Echo Chamber

I came across this video Innovation Forum 2013: Where do good ideas come from? in The Economist.

A few of the more interesting idea presented include:

  • Exadaptation. This is from biology and means the taking of one evolutionary change that was made for one purpose and utilizing it in another. The example they use is feathers which were originally developed for warmth, but were then adapted to flying. In more recent times we have seen this with Twitter and the idea of hashtags.
  • Serendipitous errors. Many discoveries are at first believed to be mistakes in the data and are often dismissed as such. It is not until someone (usually an outsider) reinterprets the results that the mistake is actually found to be a discovery.
  • Coffeehouse innovation. More innovation takes place in the coffeehouse than in the research lab or boardroom. Specifically because it is not a specialized space and outsiders are available to overhear the conversation. Great quote: “Conference rooms are where ideas go to die.”

What does all this mean?

It is time to get out of the echo chamber of our own companies and industries. We need to look out side these walls rather than reinforce the same, oftentimes dismal, stories.

What do you do to get out of your own echo chamber?

Below is the except about Twitter Hashtags.


  1. Specifically, the first use of the hashtag on Twitter can be traced back to Chris Messina (now an employee at Google – The idea was simple: Tweets were being generated at an ever increasing pace and Twitter was losing the intimate nature early adopters had grown to like. Being able to gather around a topic was what motivated Chris to place a # in front of a term. This made searching for #TOPIC much easier than just the word “TOPIC”.

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