Contrary to common views of innovations as being profoundly disruptive, the innovations that
succeed are those that are evolutionary, not revolutionary. This chapter examines the way in which
design domesticates innovation by nudging users incrementally into adopting new practices. In fact,
most successful innovations introduce only moderate amounts of novelty, even drawing off features of
older, now-obsolete technologies to frame our understandings of new products in terms of the
products we are about to abandon. Even as the 1984 Apple Macintosh desktop made inroads toward
rendering our paper files and desktops obsolete, its innovative operating system invoked files, file
folders, a desktop, and a trash can. Good design domesticates novelty. However, once an innovation
has gained acceptance, the purpose of design shifts toward differentiating between competing
versions of the same underlying offerings. The best designs are robust enough to withstand the
continuing cycle of domestication and differentiation, changing as technologies advance and users’
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.