What Is the Lunatic Fringe (of Technology)?

  1. Technology developers and promoters with seemingly far-out ideas about what a proposed new technology can do.
  2. Technology developers with actual products based on far-out ideas.
  3. Non-mainstream technology users and customers using the technology in ways undreamed of by its original developers.
  4. Customers willing to try and even buy almost any new technology to evaluate for possible use for future organizational needs.
  5. Customers with very real problems which do not have acceptable off-the-shelf solutions and for which some new technology seems as if it can be used to creatively cobble together a solution.
  1. Have real problems to solve which are really hard problems, not amenable to off-the-shelf solutions.
  2. Aggressive problem solvers. Moving fast, need solutions fast.
  3. Willing to build their own solutions, given basic off-the-shelf building blocks of the new technology.
  4. Really sharp individuals. Near-geniuses, at a minimum, at least in their particular area of expertise. Dull pencil-pushers and other lightweights need not apply.
  5. Documentation? Little or even none available, but none really needed since they are capable of figuring it out on their own.
  6. Specifications? Not required, but if available, they will be voraciously devoured and any mistakes or gaps will be picked apart mercilessly.
  7. Source code and schematic and circuit diagrams for hardware? Ditto — not mandatory, but very helpful and productive if provided. Digested voraciously and mercilessly. No source code or schematics? No problem — ever hear of reverse engineering — a piece of cake for hard-core lunatic fringe folks! Open source is a big win.
  8. Have budget flexibility to bring in new technologies well before they are ready to be fully justified in normal, longer-term budget cycles.
  9. Patient and tolerant of the roughness of early versions of new technologies.
  10. Impatient and anxious to help push for solutions to any problems they encounter. Commonly they solve problems on their own.
  11. Not willing to concede defeat when they encounter inevitable problems.
  12. Creative. Able to come up with novel solutions.
  13. Undeterred and undaunted by… anything, including bugs, incomplete features, and missing features. Unlike their more mortal peers who get stuck and either need external assistance or give up and concede defeat.


As mentioned earlier, there is no decent Wikipedia page for lunatic fringe for technology. I’d invite any enterprising soul to feel free to excerpt material from this paper, including citations, to create a professional Wiki page for lunatic fringe for technology.



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