Laird, your comments are very insightful and my experience definitely corroborates them entirely.
"And ha, ha, ha, it's fun to think of examples where committees have made ridiculous decisions, but there are many problems that require many people to solve, computers and medical stuff and atomic bombs... Maybe making a tent or backpack can be done by one person."
Jerry Adams, I agree with you that we need many people to solve complex problems, but design by committee is not the same as team work. Maybe the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a recent example of too many scattered engineering teams managed by a committee. I have not heard many reports of it being a successful approach.But to be honest I'm not an aviation engineer so I'm not qualified to make that assessment.
I do know that a well integrated team can be quite successful at innovation.innovation is not synonymous with a solo innovator/engineer/designer. But solutions can quickly become problematic in their own way when teams are mis-managed, over managed, under managed, call it what you want when innovation is hampered by process.
Miguel, Thanks for the link to EARL. A cool device but IMHO a perfect example of design by committee run amok. An attempt to cram all sorts of things into one box. No matter how many crowd sourcers contributed, it does not make it the best solution. Imagine a kid at a skateboard park asking his dad for a skateboard and being handed the keys to the SUV and told to use that instead. Sure they both have four wheels and both can be fun but one is more appropriate for the task at hand. Earl is the SUV in case my analogy is not clear.
What I had in mind is more like a very robust, water proof HOLUX type device (http://www.holux.com/JCore/en/products/products_spec.jsp?pno=341) with a very long battery life on a single field replaceable AAA, with the ability to display locations in a variety of datums and grid coordinate systems. Simplicity and reliability. No doubt there is a much larger market for EARL. But I also think there is a market for a very simple GPS positioning device for those of us who rely on just a map and compass most of the time but like the idea of a GPS as an additional navigational tool but not one that replaces all the other tools. A Holux is 1/10th the weight of EARL.
"As much as I would like to be more involved in the UL game I find that economically there is a big wall there. I laugh at the whole UL thing most of the time, and I tend to deal with people backtracking from it. I can understand how the big guys feel."
SO Dan, I'm very curious if economics were not a challenge and during those short moment when you are not laughing at UL, what UL innovations are passing through your mind?