We were recently reading Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture by Erez Aiden and Jean Baptiste Michel. The authors were the ones who developed the Ngram Reader, a tool for mining all of the books currently scanned in by GoogleBooks. It’s provided (providing) fascinating insights into how language and culture have changed—and are likely to change.
But before you check out how the Ngram Reader works, there is a story about innovation that may have some bearing on how you are innovating…
Aiden and Michel revisit the story of the Wright Brothers and their “invention” of the airplane. Perhaps you already knew that the Wright Brothers were just two of hundreds—perhaps thousands—of individuals trying to apply the latest technology to flight.
Like stories of the automobile or radio, you can see how many other people, from many different countries, can be working on the same innovation, but someone makes The Leap. (Our term, not the authors’.)
Turns out that what allowed the Wright Brothers to make The Leap was that, while others were focused on making more and more powerful (re: heavier) engines, the Wright Brothers were focused on the wings and aerodynamics. (Maybe this had something to do with the fact they were bicycle makers?)
You can see the dilemma: with the rise of gasoline-powered engines, inventors were getting excited about the potentials to apply that power.
Before the Wright Brothers ever flew at Kitty Hawk, they created a wind tunnel, a way to prototype their wing designs to see which ones were more likely to fly. (Literally.) So when it came time to try out that unwieldy double-winged airplane of theirs, they had tested out different wings.
(Imagine the number of crashes they would have had to endure until they got the (w)right wings.)
The point of all of this? Sometimes the big idea demands taking a step back and taking apart the different element. The idea of Flight is not just launching something into the air (military experts had been doing that for years) or overcoming gravity (balloonists had been doing THAT for years), sometimes innovation means taking things apart and getting the pieces right.
For folks like us in marketing communications, we can talk about the next “killer app” but to get to the heart and soul of what we want to do, we must find ways to improve key components (even today, the most powerful turbine engines in the world can’t do the work alone).
It’s by getting smaller, essential elements right that our ideas can soar.
(P.S. Here’s a link to a Ted talk by the authors Michel and Aiden.)
c|change is proud to announce a new acquisition. (No, not the guy on the right; that’s the artist, Ed Hinkley.)
That beautiful six-foot-by-six-foot wonder (the painting, not the artist) is called “The White Lake”.
It is just one part of a series Ed calls “Corporeal Landscapes” which integrates traditional landscapes and images from memory with glimpses of the human form. In this work, if you look closely, you will begin to make out faces throughout the snowy landscape.
Ed Hinkley is a native Chicagoan and over the last 30 years his work has been in numerous one-person, group, juried or invitational exhibitions in galleries and museums. “I’ve always approached my work as a kind of investigation driven by curiosity or concern,” he has said, “filtered through the haze of memory, historical event and the weight of cultural production.”
For us, it’ll be a daily inspiration for the work we do, navigating all kinds of landscapes.
If you’ve been reading our blog posts for the past two weeks, you know we’ve been counting down to the event we’re hosting at Chicago Artists Coalition tomorrow evening.
And if you haven’t been following, here’s an update: taking place over six weeks this past summer and into the fall, c|change worked with Better Boys Foundation in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago in a Design Lab that was part of the organization’s after-school art program. An introduction for many of the students to graphic design, the six-week Design Lab revolved around the development of one project: picking a topic that reflects an area where they’d like to see change take place (either globally, nationally or locally), crafting a compelling message and designing and producing a poster that illustrates their call to action.
Tomorrow six of these BBF students’ work will be on display at Chicago Artists Coalition and an awards ceremony will take place. The students will be in attendance. If you live in Chicago, are passionate about social change through art and design, please drop by to view the work and meet the young, passionate artists. The event starts at 5pm. More information here. We’d love to see you there!
Just two days to go until this awesome event c|change is hosting this Thursday, November 7th at 5pm at the Chicago Artists Coalition.
Check out the information and, if you’re a Chicagoan who is into how change can manifest in the world through art and design, we would love to see you there!
“I enjoy drawing how I feel and stuff around me and how other people feel, all the world around. I like to paint flowers or landscapes or the sky. I enjoy that the most…and, also people. I like to bring out people’s emotions through the colors and shapes and how they blend and twist and turn.” - Jaleicia Staples, Better Boys Foundation (BBF) student, Chicago
Given Jaleicia’s love of people, animals and nature, it’s no surprise that she chose the enviroment as the area where she’d like to see change take place in the world.
If you live in Chicago, please come see her poster design—and her fellow BBF classmates’ work—at the Chicago Artists Coalition this Thursday, November 7 at 5pm. See here for more details.
If you’ve been seeing our posts this week, you know that we’re hosting an awesome event at Chicago Artists Coalition next Thursday, November 7th with the students of Better Boys Foundation. And if you haven’t been reading our blog this week, please view the invitation here. If you’re a Chicagoan interested in imagining change for the future with local youth and are interested in art and design, please drop by the event next week. Stay tuned for more posts leading up to the show!
*Photo caption: Some of the c|change team and BBF students on the last day of the six-week design lab workshop.