The Origin Of Good Ideas

October 28, 2010

There’s a live stream from the RSA on Tuesday 2 November at 13.00 on “Where Do Good Ideas Come From?” featuring best-selling author Steven Johnson:

Steven Johnson has spent twenty years immersed in creative industries, was active at the dawn of the internet and has a unique perspective that draws on his fluency in fields ranging from neurobiology to new media. Why have cities historically been such hubs of innovation? What do the printing press and Apple have in common? And what does this have to do with the creation and evolution of life itself?

Video of Steven Johnson summarising his views at TED.

He starts off by talking about the role that coffee houses played in England in catalysing the Enlightenment and goes on from this to describe other environments and situations that have been highly conducive to developing new ideas. His aim is to try to identify common patterns that we can try to replicate to improve innovation in both work and our personal lives.

Reviews of his book from the Guardian, The Independent and New Scientist give some interesting pros and cons.

On the theme of ‘innovative environments’ (although on a much smaller scale), see a previous post on Knowledge Cafes.

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Map Marathon In London

October 15, 2010

I’d really like to go but I need to prepare for a trip to Italy instead! If you’re in London and have some time, a visit to the Serpentine Gallery sounds quite fascinating:

The Serpentine Gallery presents the fifth event in its acclaimed Marathon series on 16 and 17 October. The multi-dimensional Map Marathon will feature non-stop live presentations by over 50 artists, poets, writers, philosophers, scholars, musicians, architects, designers and scientists. This ambitious two-day event takes place in London during Frieze Art Fair week.

I used to work in data visualisation when I was a Research Fellow at the IBM Scientific Centre in Winchester (eg see here and here) and the interest remains…

Picture credits here.


Blog Action Day Today – Water Conservation

October 15, 2010

15 October 2010 is Blog Action Day, with this year’s theme being water conservation:

Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day. It was started in 2007 by the Envato founders, Collis and Cyan Ta’eed, and last year over 13,000 blogs participated to draw attention to climate change.

The topic this year focuses on water conservation. Right now, almost a billion people on the planet don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. That’s one in eight of us who are subject to preventable disease and even death because of something that many of us take for granted. Water is a global issue, and it affects all of us.

Technology Footprint: On an average day, 500 billion liters of water travel through US power plants to power all the technology that we use every day. For example, that shiny new iPhone in your pocket requires half a liter of water to charge. That may not seem like much, but with approximately 6.4 million active iPhones in the US, that’s 3.2 million liters to charge those alone.

On this aspect, there’s an interesting water ‘game’ provided by IBM (see Water/Energy tab) to help explore technology-oriented possibilities (see also the Decade of Smart).

Picture credit here.


An Arrow

October 14, 2010

“The power of an arrow – a line linking one idea to another – is astounding. It can transform a list of ideas into a story.”

Credit here.


Flirting And Quality Conversations!

October 13, 2010

From the Daily Telegraph today:

A source close to the company said: “With social media and texting reducing our face-to-face interaction, Pizza Express has enlisted the help of a conversational expert who is incorporating flirting and unique conversation techniques … into its new staff training scheme to help completely redefine the restaurant experience for customers.”

He added the hectic pace of modern life often prevented people from having a quality conversation. But somewhere among the pizza ovens, pushchair ramps and oversized pepper grinders, the art of banter was a “teachable skill” which would help staff “get the most from every interaction, with colleagues and customers,” the source said.

So, just watch out, the next time you visit them!

And in case you want some forewarning…


R&D And Trend Spotting

October 13, 2010

From TroyMedia on trend spotting and it’s relevance to career planning:

Not to undermine the science of futurism, but anyone can learn the essentials of forecasting by plugging into the trend-spotting world – if for no other reason than to learn how companies make strategic decisions.

and corporate R&D:

Companies spend billions on research and development and strategic-thinking initiatives, when they’d be a lot smarter to invest their time in asking their customers smart questions.

Carrying out R&D and developing customer relationships are performed by two different groups of people with contrasting mindsets and so marrying these two sources of insights is tricky, especially in large organisations. However it can be done, see here.

I’ve written previously on how my interest in wireless electricity came from exactly this source – an inquisitive customer!

Aside: some interesting insights into forecasting here.


Science Is Vital

October 12, 2010

Take a look at Science is Vital and, if stirred, sign the petition here by 13.30 tomorrow:

We will be presenting the petition to Downing Street on Thursday 14 October. In order to have time to cleanup and print the list, we are asking for people to sign by 1.30 PM British Summer Time on Wednesday.The petition will remain open, but if you want your voice to be heard, NOW is the time to sign!

The rally took place in London last Saturday.