Tweaking is present in all inventive fields, and in some—like music—is a very prominent part of the creative process. Perhaps the most important point about tweaking is this: tweaking does not appear to suppress pioneering innovation very much. If anything, it may often encourage it. Many of the most significant and enduring innovations rest on tweaking. As Malcolm Gladwell has argued, the late Steve Jobs of Apple—an icon of our innovation economy if there ever was one, and the man behind the iPhone and iPad—“was repeatedly referred to as a large-scale visionary and inventor.” But in fact, “he was much more a tweaker.”
Steve Jobs, Gladwell goes on to argue, was “the greatest tweaker of his generation.” Even the iPad, Jobs’ last great success, was a tweak of an idea out of Microsoft.
In some industries copyrights barely exist or do not exist at all, like the fashion industry (a TED video here), and innovation thrives nonetheless. A classic video on how tweaking sparks innovation is Larry Lessing's (here).
A fascinating case on how magicians protect intellectual property without the law is here.
HT: Diego Aycinena.