Anton Howes on innovation history, the improving mindset and progress studies.


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Anton Howes on innovation history, the improving mindset and progress studies. Anton Howes is an innovation historian and policy thinker, we have a fascinating wide ranging conversation on innovation. Transcript and video available here.

We discuss raising the prestige of innovators today, but consider it easy to say but harder to enact.

Anton argues for the benefits of a “great Exhibition” as a direct mechanism to inspire an “improving” mindset - the type of mindset that leads to innovation.

Anton shares what he has discovered about how invention has happened in history; and whether stagnation has happened or not recently, that it might be good to send a signal on the importance of innovation in any case. Why incremental innovation might be underrated, and why the process of innovation (ideas, iterations) is not publicised more.

Anton discusses evidence that formal education has not been needed for historic inventors (an improving mindset being potentially more important) and whether there are more than enough innovation prizes currently.

We have a strong section on problems with copyright and how rules around copyright might not be fit for purpose today and how to pronounce “gimcrack” - a useless invention - and why having more gimcracks might be a sign of healthy innovation.

A fascinating walk through innovation history.

Anton Howes is an innovation historian and policy thinker. He’s written a brilliant history of the RSA - the royal society for arts, manufactures and commerce - arguably Britain’s national improvement agency over the last 260 years - and is the RSA’s Historian in Residence. I recommend you check out his book, Arts and Minds. He writes a substack newsletter blog on innovation thinking that has won an award from Tyler Cowen’s Emergent Ventures. He has a day job as head of innovation research at the Entrepreneurs Network think tank and in my mind is an all round excellent thinker on innovation.

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