Innovations, good & bad

Being successful in business is always a good thing, but what happens when plans do not work out as you intend? In this post, we will look at a startup company that had a bit of bad luck and see what we can learn from their mistakes. We will also examine an innovation that has already started to change the way we play and see how companies are working to integrate it into our daily lives.

When Plans Go Wrong

Humans are known to be shortsighted and make mistakes that look obvious in retrospect (Hutchinson, 2012). Since humans run organizations, there are many reasons they may be unsuccessful. Eran Hammer-Lahav had an idea to create a micro-blogging service named Nouncer back in 2006 (Hammer, 2008). In a post, Hammer (2008) himself recounts some of the main issues as to why the Nouncer product failed. Amongst the financial difficulties and problems developing a team, Hammer was late getting Nouncer to market (Hammer, 2008).

Services such as Twitter were launched and became successful while Nouncer was still being developed (Hammer, 2008). Hammer shifted his approach from a customer-facing application to developing more of the backend and infrastructure systems (Hammer, 2008). Hammer (2008) talks about creating the JabAbout application for Facebook which he considered a distraction from the Nouncer project. Although the JabAbout project did not cause the downfall of Nouncer, Hammer (2008) discusses the need to stay focused on your goal and not get distracted by side projects.

Impact Example

Examples of innovations that have had an impact on our life’s in recent years are virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Using VR has become a bit more commonplace today with a multitude of applications and video games using the technology. However, the innovation of AR has not been fully integrated into society. Games such as Ingress and Pokemon Go have already shown the masses how AR can be used through a mobile application (Clark, 2019). Companies like North are working to create glasses that will utilize AR for productivity (Ochanji, 2020).

AR can have a significant impact on how we interact with our technology throughout our daily routines. Utilizing AR glasses that will keep us informed about our schedule and the weather (Ochanji, 2020) would help keep us organized, but would also have impacts that need to be considered. Things such as how to interact with the world around us and other humans could be impacted, in both a positive and negative way. Much like VR, if AR consumes all the user’s senses at once, they could become isolated from others. This could be seen as a negative impact when using technology.

On the other side, companies are working to utilize AR in areas such as tourism to help enhance the end-user experience (Kečkeš & Tomičić, 2017). Forces such as technology requirements play a key role in how quickly AR is being adopted (Kečkeš & Tomičić, 2017). Even when the correct technology becomes plentiful, people will still need to be convinced to use AR. Like most technology, newer generations are quick to adopt it but are equally quick to dismiss it if they do not find it useful. Products like Focal from North are working to overcome that issue by seamlessly integrating the technology into our daily lives (Ochanji, 2020).

In summary, games like Pokemon Go has shown us the potential of AR and how it can be used on mobile devices for entertainment (Clark, 2019). Now companies like North are working hard to integrate AR into our daily lives for productivity purposes (Ochanji, 2020). Innovations are important to the future and will help shape the way we live and play. As long as startup companies learn from the mistakes made by Hammer and others, innovations should continue to change the world.


Clark, P. (2019). ‘Pokemon Go’ Creator on Augmented Reality’s Massive Potential. Retrieved from

Hammer, E. (2008). The Last AnNounce(r)ment. Retrieved from

Hutchinson, A. (2012) Monitor Group: A Failure of Scenario Planning. Retrieved from

Kečkeš, A. L., & Tomičić, I. (2017). Augmented Reality in Tourism – Research and Applications Overview. Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems, 15(2), 157-168. doi:10.7906/indecs.15.2.5

Ochanji, S. (2020). Next Versions of North Focals Look Even More Like Normal Glasses. Retieved from


The creating of innovation is not always planed. Normally, one does not simply get out of bed in the morning and exclaim, “I will be great today.” Like other things, innovations can happen by accident. Over the years, there have been many innovations that were achieved through some type of accident. In this post, we will look at how an error, exaptation, and serendipitous event could lead to innovation.

One way is by trial and error. Errors are simply a mistake or output from the trial that is not expected. Not all errors are bad. Some errors can lead down a different path that you might not have been thinking before you made a mistake. A good example of an error is when Mr. Goodyear accidentally dropped a vat of his liquid rubber onto a hot stove causing it to become a hard leather-like material (Orf, 2013).

Another way an innovation may come about is through exaptation. Exaptation is using older ideas or parts in a new implementation of the product (Tam, 2018). Many of the evolutionary adaptations can be attributed to exaptation (Tam, 2018). Technology also follows a similar evolutionary process when it comes to using tried and true ideas in new technology to come up with a new product.

We should also look at how serendipity can play a role in innovations. A serendipitous event can be thought of as a “happy accident” or making a discovery of something you were not trying to discover (Scofield, 2011). A good example of this is how Play-Doh came to be. Play-Doh was first invented as a cleaning product for wallpaper until it was found to be a more enjoyable children’s toy (Biddle, 2012).

An innovation that has always caught my eye was how the microwave oven came about. A scientist by the name of Percy Spencer was working for the Raytheon Corporation in 1945 (Cooper, 2015). While working in a lab with a radar device, Spencer observed that a chocolate bar in his pocket was being melted (Cooper, 2015). It would not be accurate to say that Spencer created an error, but rather had a serendipitous event, or a “happy accident.” Spencer, when on to conduct various experiments, even placing popcorn kernels inside a paper bag to see if they would pop correctly (Cooper, 2015).

In summary, it is important to keep in mind that not all mistakes are bad. As we have seen throughout this post, having an accident during an experiment could lead to a new type of innovation. It is important to keep an open mind when examining the results. You never know what new and improved innovation you might have just discovered.


Biddle, S. (2012). The 10 Most (accidental) inventions of all time. Gizmodo. Retrieved from

Cooper, K. (2015). Microlessons: Toward a History of Information-Age Cuisine. Technology and Culture, 56(3), 579-609.

Orf, D. (2013). 10 Awesome Accidental Discoveries. Popular Mechanics. Retrieved from

Scofield, D. (2011). Serendipitous Innovation. Forbes. Retrieved from

Tam, M. (2018). Patterns of Innovation: How Exaptation Can Lead to Creative Breakthroughs. Medium. Retrieved from

Issues in the Newspaper Industry

This paper will look at the issues faced by the newspaper industry in the past few decades and how the industry dealt with those challenges. This paper will also examine how the newspaper industry could have performed scenario planning more successfully. We will look at some of the failures and also how the newspaper industry has survived through the changes over the last several decades.

It was evident in the 1990s that print media was in trouble, with the news being broadcast 24 hours a day on most major cable networks (Wade, 2012). News consumers no longer needed to wait for the newspaper to be printed and delivered; they could simply tune in on their televisions. It wasn’t until the mid-2000s that newspaper companies began scenario planning to help determine how to save the failing physical printed media industry (Wade, 2012). The rise of digital media significantly impacted how people received and consumed news on a daily basis. Digital media put pressure on the physical printed media industry to keep up with the changing times, thus the need for scenario planning (Wade, 2012).

Scenario planning is a way for companies or industries to speculate and create different pictures of what the future might look like (Hiemstra, 2012). The scenarios being created should be plausible, along with being based on current knowledge or speculation of what future events are likely to take place (Hiemstra, 2012). In order to conduct scenario planning, a workshop was conducted in 2008 In which major newspaper companies participated in the exercise to determine what the business landscape would look like by 2020 (Wade, 2012).

An important step in scenario planning is to create a scenario cross. A scenario cross consists of two pairs of opposite outcomes, such that both outcomes are plausible, but could not both come true at the same time (Wade, 2012). In the case of the newspaper workshop, the scenario cross consisted of pairings between Disruptive media dominates, and Traditional media dominates, along with Mass audience and Targeted audiences (Wade, 2012). The scenario cross can be seen in figure 1. This scenario cross was used to help guide the workshop with their scenario planning (Wade, 2012).

Figure 1 – Scenario cross (Wade, 2012, p. 72)

The workshop produced many different possible views of the future, along with some predictions (Wade, 2012). In 2008 the group correctly predicted that a mobile device would take the place of printed media, unfortunately, it happened sooner than anticipated (Wade, 2012). In 2010 Apple released the iPad, which dramatically changed the way people consumed news on a daily basis (Wade, 2012). Even though the group correctly predicted the creation of such a device, they were not prepared for the impact for another 10 years.

It is important to understand that the newspaper industry had three main sources of revenue, which are paid subscriptions, newsstand sales, and advertising (Wade, 2012). With the decline of sales, there was a sharp decrease in advertising companies willing to invest in printed media (Banku, Valdemara, Riga, & Latvia, 2016). With the decline of income from advertisers, newspapers began cutting back on spending which had a ripple effect on pulp mills needing to lay off employees (Banku et al., 2016).

The physical printing of newspapers did not only decrease within the United States but also in Europe. Since the year 2000, There has been a steady decrease in the demand for paper for printing purposes from 46 million tons to 29 million tons by the year 2015 (Banku et al., 2016). In 1998, European advertising companies spent 57% of their budget in the printed media space and by 2014, it was down to 9% (Banku et al., 2016).

Over the year’s newspaper companies have begun to realize that the paper portion of the newspaper is less important than the news (Wade, 2012). News outlets had started to change their thinking to worry less about controlling the medium of delivery (the paper) and focus on the content they are delivering (the news) (Wade, 2012). This shift in thinking has helped save the newspaper industry.

Along with focusing more on their content, newspapers, now referred to as news outlets, also focus on appealing to the global audience, they could now reach over the Internet. It is worth noting that not all printed newspapers are gone. Some printed newspapers are created to service a specific niche of consumers (van der Burg & Van den Bulck, 2017). These niche groups could be from a specific industry, speak a nonstandard language in a foreign country, or be a subculture (van der Burg & Van den Bulck, 2017).  


Banku, A., Valdemara, K., Riga, & Latvia. (2016). Business scenario planning for declining industry.  Retrieved from

Hiemstra, G. (2012). Scenario planning.  Retrieved from

van der Burg, M., & Van den Bulck, H. (2017). Why are traditional newspaper publishers still surviving in the digital era? The impact of long-term trends on the Flemish newspaper industry’s financing, 1990–2014. Journal of Media Business Studies, 14(2), 82-115. doi:10.1080/16522354.2017.1290024

Wade, W. (2012). Chapter 3 – case studies: the real world Scenario Planning (pp. 68 – 81). Location: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


In this post, we will be looking at what socio-technical plans are and how they can be implemented in different situations to solve a complex problem. Throughout this post, we will examine a case study to see how a socio-technical plan can be used to implement laptops to a school in Brazil. We will also look at and evaluate the effectiveness of the socio-technical plan used. Before we get into the case study, we will begin by defining what a socio-technical plan is.

The team socio-technical was created by researchers at the Tavistock Institute in England while looking into ways to rehabilitate soldiers from World War II (Sawyer & Mohammad Hossein, 2013). The term socio-technical can be defined as a way of linking society and technology together (Fischer & Herrmann). In some cases, this can mean merging a cutler with a technology that they would not normally have access to. The case study that we will be looking at deals with using a socio-technical plan to incorporate the use of laptops with a public school within Campinas, in São Paulo, Brazil (Hayashi & Baranauskas, 2013).

In 2010, the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organization donated 520 laptops to the Padre Emílio Miotti School (Miotti), a public school in Brazil (Hayashi & Baranauskas, 2013). Unfortunately, Miotti school has a population of 530 individuals, which includes teachers and students (Hayashi & Baranauskas, 2013). Hayashi and Baranauskas (2013) set out to conduct a study on how the laptops (a technical aspect) were incorporated into the Miotti school (a culture that did not previously have access to this technology) (Hayashi & Baranauskas, 2013).

It was found that there were both pros and cons when it came time to integrate the laptops into Miotti. One main advantage for the students was the way the laptops opened educational doors to areas they would not normally be able to access (Hayashi & Baranauskas, 2013). By integrating laptops into the student’s cutler, the student could explore ideas that they might not have considered before (Hayashi & Baranauskas, 2013). Another added benefit was that most of the students were able to take a laptop home allowing them to share the experience with their family members, thus expanding the cultural impact of the technology (Hayashi & Baranauskas, 2013).

However, not all students were able to take a laptop home. One major con was both the lack of laptops for a one-to-one distribution, and the threat that a laptop would be stolen from students living in some areas of they were taken home (Hayashi & Baranauskas, 2013). This meant that not all students would be able to participate in homework activities, such as taking photos of nutritional facts on food items around their homes (Hayashi & Baranauskas, 2013). Another major drawback was the logistics around charging, storing, and transporting the laptops each day (Hayashi & Baranauskas, 2013).

Even though there were some cons associated with the laptop program at Miotti, the program was deemed an overall success (Hayashi & Baranauskas, 2013). By using a socio-technical plan, students at the Miotti school were able to utilize technology that they would normally not have access to in order to increase their education (Hayashi & Baranauskas, 2013). By using a socio-technical plan that introduced laptops at the Miotti school, individuals within a cutler were given the opportunity to explore new ideas and expand their knowledge.


Fischer, G., & Herrmann, T. Socio-Technical Systems – A Meta-Design Perspective.  Retrieved from

Hayashi, E. C. S., & Baranauskas, M. C. C. (2013). Affectibility in educational technologies: A socio-technical perspective for design. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 16(1), 57-58.

Sawyer, S., & Mohammad Hossein, J. (2013). Sociotechnical approaches to the study of information systems.  Retrieved from

Etched Glass Light Up Plaque

I have now made three of these etched glass light-up plaques, and I decided to make a post showing the process. The first one was for my old boss, one for Rhett & Link from GMM (pictured), and now one for a Christmas gift. I do not remember exactly what gave me the original idea to build this, but everyone loves to get a homemade gift, and this is fairly easy (with the correct equipment).

I have included links to sites that sell the various components that were used for this project. I am not affiliated with these sites nor am I compensated if you purchase any of these components. You should source the items at a store you are comfortable shopping at.

What you will need
I have broken the materials into sections that will line up with the steps below.

The Electronics (Steps 1 & 2)
– Fritzing designs for the electronic boards can be found on GitHub
– Arduino code can also be found on GitHub
– A strip of six WS2812 RGB LEDs at 60 per meter (external link)
– An ATtiny85 (external link)
– A 1206 capacitor
– A female micro USB plug for power (external link)
– Two buttons (external link)
– Some bits of stranded wire
– USBASP programmer (external link)
– Solder and soldering iron (external link)

The Base (Step 3)
– Block of wood or other material for the base ( 3/4″ thick, 7 1/2″ long, 2 1/2″ deep)
– Wood carving tools (Dremel)
– Stain or polyurethane (external link)

Etching (Step 4)
– A piece of glass that is 4″ x 6″ x 0.4″ (external link)
– Armour Etching solution (external link)
– Painters tape (external link)

Assembly (Step 5)
– Hot glue (external link)

The Building
Now let’s start building the various components and see how well this will go together.

Step 1The Electronics
I prefer to start assembling the electronics first to make sure everything is working properly. If you are unable to order the custom boards, you can use the following schematics to create your own. One is referred to as the “mainboard” and the other is the “button board.”

The mainboard holds the micro USB plug, ATtiny85, and the capacitor. The board also has a programming interface and solder pads to connect the lights and buttons.

The button board is rather straightforward. It holds the two buttons and has solder points for the wires.

Place the components on the boards in their indicated position, or use some proto-board to create your own version of the board. After you get everything soldered, the mainboard should look something like this.

Step 2 – Coding
After the electronics are wired, you can upload the code onto the ATtiny85 using a USBASP programmer and the six-pin programming interface on the mainboard.

To save time for future builds, I created a connector for the programming interface so I can recycle this design for other projects. The special interface is not required to program the ATtiny85. You can solder the wires directly to the mainboard if you would like, or use headers.

There are two steps (we can call them…sub-steps) to program the board. First, you will want to burn a boot loader, and second, upload the code.

Unless you already have the ATtiny boards installed in your Arduino IDE, you will want to get them installed. This can be accomplished simply by going to Tools | Board | Board Manager, then search for ATtiny.

Use the tools menu to make sure you have the correct settings; which are as follows:

Board: ATiny25/45/85
Chip: ATtiny85
Clock: 8MHz (internal)

To burn a boot loader, connect to the programming interface and use the Arduino IDE to select Burn Bootloader from the bottom of the Tools menu.

After the bootloader is successfully loaded, upload the source code from GitHub.

If you get lost programming the Arduino, I would suggest using Google to look up some examples. There are a number of posts that go into detail on Arduino coding, so I am not going to go over it here.

Step 3 – The Base
I have used oak to make all of my bases. I personally like the way the wood looks alongside the glass. Of course, you can make the base out of any material you would like. Below is the diagram to create the base.

I also have the luxury of using a milling machine to cut out the base. It would be possible to use a Dremel or another hand-held tool to make the pockets needed. Of course, you are free to change the design of the board if you need to fit your electronics differently. This is just the way I have it set up. When you are finished making the base, I would recommend putting a stain or polyurethane coat on it for protection.

Step 4 – Etching The Glass
Before you can etch, you need a design. For this demo, I used the Mythical Society logo as my design. I used a Silhouette cutting machine to cut out the design onto thin vinyl. I highly recommend a Silhouette cutter if you have the means. Either way, make sure to invert your design (mirror image). The image will be etched on the backside of the glass so you will see the design through the glass.

After you select your image, cut it out on a thin sheet of vinyl and apply it to one side of the glass. Make sure you tape up EVERYTHING (every surface) that you do not want to etch. After etching one of my designs, I noticed that I touched a corner of the glass with the etching solution and it left an etching mark. I now take the precaution to tape up everything that I do not want to etch.

Once the masking is done, place the Armour etching solution on the open areas of the glass and let it sit for about 15 minutes.

I have found that if you can carefully wipe off the first layer of etching solution, you can apply another round. You will need to be really careful not to disturb your mask, but I have found that by “double etching” the image comes out much crisper.

Step 5 – Assembly
Finally, you are ready to assemble your project. Line up the electronics on the underside of the base and secure them using hot glue. I prefer hot glue because it is possible to remove if you need to make an adjustment. After the boards are secure, wire up the lights and button board to the mainboard.

Finally, flip the base over, slide the glass into the base, and plug it in.

Looking back at this post I realize how many steps and different types of equipment it took to produce one of these light-up plaques. I guess it is not as easy as I first mentioned. Never the less, I hope you have enjoyed reading about this project and it has inspired you to try making your own light-up plaque.

– Michael