On Invention

“I just invent, then wait until man comes around to needing what I’ve invented.”
— Buckminster Fuller, quoted in Jack Cheng’s essay.

We struggle sometimes explaining LOVELAND to people. “You’re making a group buying system for houses?” they ask, or “People bid on land auctions for cheap?” in an attempt to find the nearest conceptual anchor or category. They read the website and still have no idea what it’s about. We’re still learning how to communicate the vision and the very real things we’re building (it’s actual land, made of dirt, but also online), and although some friends ‘get it’ I still feel a gap in understanding holding us back.

The problem with the Newton wasn’t any physical or technical problem. Those are easy to surmount. The problem that broke the Newton was that nobody was prepared for it. There was no mental slot in people’s heads that the Newton could glide into.

There’s a cozy, pre-existing slot in people’s brains that the iPad fills quite nicely. “Oh,” they say. “It’s a big iPhone.”

You don’t just slap a product out there and hope it will succeed. You have to prepare people for it.

— The iPad, and the Staggering Work of Obviousness, @amyhoy

Is this a game company, a charity, community development organization, a social network site, or a real-estate investment company? All of these and none. VCs scratch their heads trying to categorize us. I can relate to Mike at Crowdspring when he writes, “Our business model, and others that are popping up every day, is still so young that the milk in my refrigerator is nearly as old. A challenge faced by many of these businesses is to find a way to introduce to the market, and to their potential customers, a new-to-the-world product, service, or category.” Remember how Twitter seemed pointless to so many until it finally ‘clicked?’

I joined LOVELAND precisely because of its novelty. I had never heard of anything like it, and given the chance to create something new rather than yet another social network I jumped in. We didn’t know what would happen — heck, one of the first ideas was an augmented reality flower garden on the floor of an art gallery — but we were captivated, and so are hundreds of others. We’re making a playful platform for people to own land and gather around their shared spirit of building something where nothing was. By growing our Detroit presence we’re inviting the world’s attention and energy into a city fertile for creative reimaginings of the urban landscape. Our inchvestors all come for different reasons; go read the delightful things they’ve written so far. I’m excited to be crafting the tools and space to let them show us how big they can make an inch. We’ve profiled a few active projects happening on this technical foundation.

Come meet the gang this Saturday May 15th at the micro meetup at Noisebridge, or Tuesday the 18th at SF Beta.

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