Entire societies have come to talk about innovation as if it were an inherently desirable value, like love, fraternity, courage, beauty, dignity, or responsibility. Innovation-speak worships at the altar of change, but it rarely asks who benefits, to what end? A focus on maintenance provides opportunities to ask questions about what we really want out of technologies. What do we really care about? What kind of society do we want to live in? Will this help get us there?
Cheap, functional, reliable things unleash the creativity of people who then build stuff that you could not imagine. There’s no way of predicting the Internet based on the first transistor.
George Whitesides: “Toward a science of simplicity”