Are Social Technologies Really Invented?

Networks like Facebook are innovative, but inevitable

3 min read

In a memorable scene from the movie The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg is deposed by a lawyer for the Winklevoss twins, who are suing him, claiming that Zuckerberg had stolen their idea for Facebook. Zuckerberg's attention wanders. When he is accused of being inattentive, he comes out of his fog and points his finger across the table at the Winklevoss twins and their lawyer, saying, "You have part of my attention. You have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, is intellectually or creatively capable of doing."

My eyes were on the screen, but my mind was reflecting on the question of who should get the credit. Even if I had been physically present for all the events portrayed, I still wouldn't know for sure to whom all those billions of dollars should be assigned.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

Keep Reading ↓Show less