Let’s rewind to my earlier post about hummingbird effect in printing press and reading glasses.

We have established through Steven Johnson that the hummingbird effect means: An innovation in one sector leading to another innovation in another sector.

As a result we have established that Johannes Gutenberg’s innovation of the printing press democratized access to books to millions of people who could not access them before.

When people started reading, some people went like “wait a minute, I can’t read this.” because they were shortsighted.

This problem led to the innovation of reading glasses.

To take a step further, what Guttenburg’s innovation did beyond leading to the creation of reading glasses industry, it is also led to the revolution of the microscope and telescope industry.


You see, as innovators in the reading glasses industry [which is a derivative of the printing press] were tinkering with glass and reading glasses, they also created the microscope and telescope using the same glass.

They used glass to bring things that were too far or tiny closer to our eyes and this revolutionized science in a massive way.

Through the telescope we are able to zoom into orbit and discover other planets and stars.

Through the microscope we are able to zoom into small insects and analyse them.

Through the microscope we are able to zoom into our blood and see tissue cells, which led to our understanding of bacteria and viruses which led to our ability to deal with health challenges and increase our life-spans.

So the hummingbird effect in one sector [printing and creation of books] lead to the creation of a different industry [reading glasses] which also led to another completely different industry [telescope, tissue cells, discovery of other planets].

Innovation in one industry has a huge potential to lead to creation of other industries.

When innovation is introduced into a market, sometimes the best response is not to quickly rush to be the early adopter, but to quickly rush to be the innovator on the next thing that the initial innovation will lead to.

There is always the hummingbird effect on each new innovation.

Figure out where the next bounce of the ball will be and innovate there.

One thought on “Hummingbird effect in innovation: Telescope and microscope

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