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Freelance consultant, learning facilitator, and writer, founder of extreme-inventing.com, ooleee.net (with artist Gary King), knowledgecafe0151. Teach technology entrepreneurship at School of Engineering at University of Liverpool, UK. I have a longstanding and avid interest in Technology as a unique human phenomenon. I'm actively engaged in research on how enterprising individuals shape material culture through inventing and innovating, with palaeoanthropologists at the Dept. of Archaeology, Egyptology and Classics, also at University of Liverpool.

Thorny Issue

When I was very much younger, I used to called barbed wire ‘bad’ wire, and so did all my friends. It made sense—it was bad. This is not, strictly speaking, an extreme invention, only sort of. I found the story of bad wire invention on the Smithsonian Institute’s Lemelson Centre pages. It seems that back in the day when the West was wild, farmers planted thorny Osage orange trees as living fences to stop cattle bothering the crops. Then Jacob Haish decided he would weave the thorny branches into a wire and board fence.  By doing this, of course, he would have been engaging in a bit of extreme inventing, by using a property of a found object, the property of sharp thorns to induce pain on anything more than a touch lighter than a feather. Bad wire, then, is an innovation, in the following sense. Had Jacob added thorns to a man-made object, his wire fencing, he would have invented a new system. The wire-in-wire arrangement, which we know as barbed wire is an adaption of the natural thorn-in-wire weave.

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