I've been thinking that I can sometimes think that when we fix things now that we're breaking new ground, solving problems that no-one has ever solved.
When I read about the way that early audio instructions were included in cars, I was struck that Solomon was right: "there's nothing new under the sun" (which, interstingly was the topic of my Higher English dissertation in 1997 - based on Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5). We might be solving problems more efficiently, but we're probably reusing ideas others have had and applying them to our problem. In the case of the speaking car, the problem is "how to make the car tell the driver what's happening". The first solution in the 70s was to basically create small records - now we do it with digital audio files.
And I love that. Learn from others and become wiser (not smarter, there's a difference, in my mind).
On the topic of digital audio, have a listen to the latest edition of The Guardian's techweekly podcast. A really interesting interview with Kane Kramer, who basically seems to have invented the digital music player (or at least the way it could work) in 1979.
So what have you learned by listening? How has it changed how you work/live/play?