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InfoWorld: Fostering Creativity

Sep 12, 2002, 09:00 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Chad Dickerson)

[ Thanks to Douglas D. Darnold for this link. ]

"The ability to improvise with whatever tools you have available was dubbed bricolage by French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, but the concept could have just as easily originated from a CTO watching his staffers improvise their way out of obtuse technical jams on a daily basis. Many of the best solutions to technical problems have originated from bricoleurs trying to solve a nagging problem with no obvious solution in hand. Often, the issue is less of a technological problem than a financial one. Sometimes you have to make do with what you have.

"Take Linux, for example. In a 1997 interview, Linus Torvalds noted his frustration with Minix, the OS he was using in school at the time he created Linux. 'Minix was meant to be a teaching operating system, but it had been too limited and, in my opinion, too expensive for that. It was also hard to get hold of,' Torvalds said.

"Torvalds took what limited resources he had available (relatively inexpensive Intel-based hardware and his own raw talent), went to work creating one of the key disruptive technologies of our time, and Minix became irrelevant next to Linux. As Linux matured, bricoleurs within corporations began using Linux to solve technical problems for which funding (or even permission from management) was unavailable. Putting Linux on available low-end hardware obviated the need to go through the purchase order process, get approvals, and buy expensive hardware--corporate bricolage at its finest..."

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