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’ sophistication follows.
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