October 14th, 2011 by Gwen McCarter
Outside of architecture, “facade” tends to be a four-letter word. It conjures up ideas of intentional and obvious pretense. But in advertising and marketing, brands have to maintain some sort of buffer between the truth of how they operate and the reality that they present to customers. The purpose of that veneer is not to pull the old bait-and-switch, but simply to ensure a positive customer experience.
Think of it this way: When a customer walks into your store, she doesn’t want to see the underbelly of what it takes to create a perfect retail environment. The end-result of that all the effort that goes into running a successful business should appear inevitably seamless, as if it couldn’t have come together otherwise. When crafted this way, spaces of all kinds have the power to transport us to new times, places, and emotional states.
But when a branded environment isn’t presented as an airtight package, a rift enters into the customer experience. The enchantment fades and it becomes abundantly clear that alternate realities exist — that the world can work in different and better ways. When that bubble bursts, the customer suddenly has to work to stay engaged. Instead of eagerly awaiting what that brand will produce next, he notices the company’s cracks and opens his mind up to other possibilities.
Fickle shoppers will always come and go, but brands have a huge say in how pleasing or frustrating a customer experience they create. Normal people don’t just storm out of stores for no identifiable reason; somewhere along the way, there was a final straw. The challenge for most brands is not to keep a pristine track record of customer loyalty; it’s to understand the key fault lines that are preventing a passable store environment from being better.
More often than not, those breaking points are in plain sight for the customer. But actionable opportunities for improvement might not jump out as readily to those within the company. And no matter how big a fan favorite your brand is, continued success means regularly assessing whether your latest efforts will dovetail with the experiences your customers want and expect (ahem, Facebook and Netflix).
Wherever you are in the process of fine-tuning the way people experience your brand, the tips that follow will help.
Take advice from people who know your customer.
It can feel irresistibly easy to institute changes from afar, but knowing which policies have a chance of working means staying close to the ground. Start by hiring someone at each of your stores to study how local consumers actually experience your brand.
Remove elements that detract from the customer experience.
Clutter is the enemy, especially when it conflicts with the brand identity you’re trying to sell to customers. If your main benefit is supposed to be convenience, for example, anything that screams inconvenience will stick out to shoppers like a sore thumb. Customers might come to expect long lines at a popular store, but avoid the appearance of needless inefficiency by re-designing your checkout area to include only as many cash registers as you have employees to operate. Same principle applies to disarray in the online shopping experience.
Make customers feel like you are listening.
There’s a lot of room to maneuver between being at consumers’ beck and call, on the one hand, and paying no attention to them, on the other hand. The first approach leads to brand chaos, the second to brand arrogance. Find the middle ground by developing smart ways to show that you know your audience. For instance, whether you run an independent small business or a national chain, host local in-store events that give you and your community a chance to exchange ideas.
September 28th, 2011 by Dave Alsobrooks
Impatience. Such a seemingly negative emotion. We recently looked at impatience and how it can creep up on us as we navigate our projects. It can often be made to work for us, but sometimes it’s not that easy. In these cases where impatience persists, frustration is a logical next step although not always the step we’d like to take. As usual, our intrepid group of bloggers will try to spin frustration on its head and make something positive out of the situation. If you’re finding yourself frustrated by a piece of work, we hope we can nudge you in the right direction.
Let’s say your company has essentially taken over the world of electronics, is a stock market darling and has legions of fans who hang on every mention of your products. That would be so awesome, right? Well, it would also create immense pressure to keep the production line going — the production line of ideas as much as devices. Enter the iPhone 5. Well, actually, don’t enter the iPhone 5. That’s kind of the problem: it’s not here yet. But it will be here soon. A quick online search of the phrase “iPhone 5″ yields 2,350,000,000 results at the time of writing. And the top 6 are individual sites created exclusively for following the rumor mill surrounding the product. That’s a lot of pent up anticipation. I believe I read the phrase, “The salivation is so palpable, you may need an umbrella.” One thing is for sure: the fanboys will certainly queue up when the 5 finally hits stores next month. But here’s another thought: could Apple actually be wearing out its welcome with some of the population? The rabid anticipation for this device is perhaps higher than it’s ever been for an Apple release. But it’s just taken SO long, that it seems people might’ve exploded if the confirmed introduction for October 4th had not recently appeared out of thin air. Pair this ongoing frustration with the rigid service contracts from carriers that we’re all subjected to and the window of i-adoption tightens for many. Every month that’s passed saw more people miss the boat. Or worse for Apple, pick another boat. It’s possible that the level of frustration with Apple over the iPhone 5′s release will create just as fervent a backlash as an adoration. Maybe it’s only a ripple, but it’s a ripple of consumers entertaining solutions other than one designed in Cupertino. And that’s never good for business.
Beware of keeping your customer waiting too long.
While a bout with impatience can spur forward movement on a project, it can incite frustration, leading to rash decisions and missed opportunities. Consider Randy “Super Freak” Moss, future Hall of Famer, recently retired, but still hoping, wide receiver of the NFL. He’s had to bounce a few times in recent years from the New England Patriots to the Minnesota Vikings and finally to the Tennessee Titans. The Titans? That was just wrong. The New England experiment was the closest tenure to something that worked but it obviously didn’t really work out in the end. After Randy’s final season with the Titans, the team publicly stated they weren’t re-signing the veteran receiver. The player and the player’s agent maintained Moss stayed in freakish physical shape during the off-season and lockout. moss was ready to play for an interested team. The first problem became that teams did not show interest, at least publicly. By the middle of summer, without any offers or attention from teams, Ross quickly became frustrated and retired. No Brett Favre antics here. Peace out. Fast-forward, and now it seems that a handful of teams might’ve actually been interested in Randy’s services. They just didn’t make a public spectacle or media blitz like some teams do from time to time to grab the headlines and/or a player’s attention. We’ll never really know, but there’s this nagging notion that Randy might’ve cut himself out of another championship run by allowing himself to become frustrated with the negotiating process.
So don’t take things too personally — allow yourself to step back and evaluate the total picture if you’re ever frustrated by a situation. Especially one that could influence an important decision — like ending your career.
I’d like to end with a closer look at Washington, D.C. But not a long one — I don’t think any of us can stomach an in-depth examination. But please consider the political gridlock we witness if we happen to tune into the news any day of the week. Zero is a fairly accurate account of what’s being accomplished by our elected officials. A few folks out there might even use the same term for the officials themselves. But I digress. I’d like to propose that perhaps the gridlock is actually the fault of the voters. How, you ask? Consider recent election cycles. It seems one party is put in a majority position, but never in a true position of power. Gridlock ensues because the so-called party of power isn’t able to truly enact any part of their agenda due to forceful opposition. And so government stalls in the face of political postures and bickering. Voters sour on the situation and when a ballot next appears, they vote the current party out in favor of the alternative. And so on. Instead of curbing our enthusiasm, maybe we should curb our frustration long enough to allow an accurate appraisal of policies that might actually work rather than playing into an always-on election cycle.
It’s sometimes very tough to do, but consider letting your ideas live long enough to rule themselves out before cutting off your support or belief.
So there really are ways to channel frustration into positive gains. But we have to do the channeling to get something out of it. If, out of frustration, we allow ourselves to be swept up in feelings of authority or importance or we just plain let things spin out of control, then we’ve not moved beyond the frustration. We’ve allowed it to take control. Here’s hoping we can keep our hands on the wheel.
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Every month, we give away a free desktop image inspired by the current virtue of #smallerthinking. The current version was inspired by an actual dispenser in our office which, by the way, has since been filled. Enjoy.
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September 3rd, 2011 by Gwen McCarter
In every direction, we see nostalgia for the good old days of analog — when budding technologies were splendid in their simplicity and romantic in their rough-around-the-edges appeal. (At least, that’s the view from here. My pink plastic film camera was, in 1989, undoubtedly more decrepit than fabulous.)
Seemingly with no boundaries, we’re breathing new life into old charmers, from Polaroid and Lomography to turntables to rotary phones. Even hand-written letters have been experiencing a resurgence. In large part, it’s no wonder why we crave slow, tangible pleasures; an always-on digital life can be maddening. And if we allow ourselves to be fully caught up in that existence, impatience for everything to operate like clockwork can lead to burnout.
But that trend hasn’t kept on going and going and going just because we are sentimental creatures craving escapism from the world as it is. There has to be more to the story than just that.
From at least one angle, the most interesting part of returning to analog rituals is how they can reinvigorate our hectic business and creative routines, giving brief respites from chaos that help us put our hands back in the fire with fresh enthusiasm.
There’s no shortage of research supporting activities of this kind. Says NYU psychologist Joshua Aronson, keeping our minds nimble is crucial to keeping and growing mental capacities:
“A decade ago, we thought you got what you were given at birth and that was pretty much it. But now we know the number of brain cells can increase throughout your life through neurogenesis. There’s great evidence that shows if you really work on a skill, the part of the brain associated with that skill grows. The mind is like a muscle. If you don’t keep exercising it, it will atrophy.”
But science aside, people engage in restorative mental activities — and keep on doing so — because they work. Plan and simple. If they didn’t work, I doubt even the most patient among us would be choosing peaceful ashrams and monasteries as vacation destinations or engaging in daily meditation at home.
Of course, rituals work differently for each of us; it doesn’t matter how you slow down as long as the experience inspires you to get back in the game.
Lucky me, I recently came into possession of a 1937 Remington typewriter that creates just that kind of experience. When I tap-tap-tap on that thing, old facilitates new. You see, each of the keys is connected to a circuit that, with the help of a USB cord, feeds my typing into an electronic document on my computer. The typewriter physically slows my hands down, which slows my mind down, which helps me feel more satisfied with what I have so deliberately produced. It helps me focus on the task at hand, not least because I know I have a digital copy to go back to and edit whenever I want.
But slowing down doesn’t necessarily require tools.
A cliche though it may be, I go on walks to get ideas. It worked in college when I drew a blank about the paper I had to write for my German philosophy class. And it works today when I want to write something creative but feel like my mind needs room to spread out. So I leave the digitally charged air of my apartment and venture out. More often than not, I arrive home with something I’m dying to commit to paper.
They say we must “slow down to speed up.” And by finding our own ways of keeping the creative juices flowing, this modern life can be a sustainable thing.
What are your rituals for coping with and making the most of a fast-paced life?
August 30th, 2011 by Gwen McCarter
Impatience can be a sticky wicket: when allowed to run amok, it can lead you to fume over a situation seemingly out of control, spinning your wheels in distraction. But when you manage to take your impatience in stride, you can channel that nervous energy into something productive. So, the next time you’re feeling ants in your pants, return to this chart [download a pdf] for help in telling the difference between a constructive response to impatience and one that, to put it bluntly, promises to blow up in your face.
August 5th, 2011 by Dave Alsobrooks
We didn’t forget. If you’ll excuse the analogy, we got impatient to move on before these were complete. Take a look and download below at your leisure. And don’t forget to take a look at the intro to this fourth Virtue of Small Thinking here.
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July 29th, 2011 by Dave Alsobrooks
Thanks for traveling with us through a year -or so- of #smallthinking. For those just joining us, we are taking our faithful following (I can say faithful because we oblige an intimate crowd) through the process of ideation and execution. Our notion is that smaller ideas get to live, breathe, evolve (and we discuss this in more depth over on Facebook). Whereas, big ideas get to fester, fabricate and #fail. Not always. But the reality is, to coin a phrase, “It’s a mad, mad world.” A world that’s waiting for you to either a.) blow up (in a good way) or b.) just blow up. We are all citizens of this impatient world. In fact, some say today’s Gen Y-ers never even learned patience. The push forward is intense, even crushing at times, from the news cycle, to the sports world, to the art world, to the advertising world, and so on. It would seem impatience is a universal truth. What do you think?
Let me be clear. We’re not advocating impatience by way of thinking smaller. We are, however, acknowledging it. And attempting to learn from it, understand it and use it to our advantage. With any project there comes a time… like now if you’ve followed our #smallthinking project… when one can get into a bit of a rut. The optimism that accompanies the launch of any project is accompanied by a healthy dose of adrenaline. In my case it is also accompanied by this, or this or these. Once the going gets tough, our instincts, which we’ve mentioned before, compel us to reevaluate the strategy, move the goalposts or maybe just cut and run. This is the point where we need a strong stomach. Second guessing a project’s worth is one of the the first major hurdles to success. And let me just say there will be more.
So how can we channel impatience toward something positive? Well, it starts by realizing that our impatience is healthy in the early stages of a project’s development. We are still hungry. We wish to see our idea through to fruition. But we haven’t trended yet. Yet! What does that mean? The short answer is it doesn’t mean our concept is dead. It may be dying for a number of reasons, but it’s not dead. Check the airway! Begin compressions if needed! Once we acknowledge we’re still in the game, we can reassure ourselves that our impatience isn’t a calling card for the endeavor at hand. In many ways it’s a reassurance that we still care.
So take a deep breath. Not every musician works with Cole Haan before they release a major label album. Not every artist is an international superstar at the age of 22. Not every US President is elected in his forties. These folks were impatient with their reality, for sure. They found a way to channel their impatience into next steps. So we are aiming for practical impatience here, not the meteoric kind.
The cold reality is that impatience can lead us to failure if we give in to its whims. And then we move on to the next thing. And the next. You get the picture. Sometimes a slow burn is where the magic’s at. In the end, nothing is really finite, except as they say, death and taxes. BTW, if either of these are a problem, we have bigger issues to face. Anyway, we should be just as impatient with failure as our own optimism. And we needn’t view these difficult teaching moments so much as our defining moments. We should see them for what they really are — teaching moments. Where we are in the process (early on, mind you), we are allowed rebuttals and recourse. But we will hopefully learn from our miscues. It should be easy to see how impatience and conjecture and ambition and failure are good things. At least for now.
July 18th, 2011 by Dave Alsobrooks
Along the way in our discussion of ingenuity we met Johannes Gutenberg, a gaggle of DIY-ers and a few other characters concerned with the business of forward thinking and making things in new ways. Gutenberg was a good place to start as his storied work with moveable type ushered in a new age of learning and thus the advancement of society as a whole. Let’s leap forward to the here and now where we are experiencing another great leap in publishing, the magazine app. Is it just a glorified PDF or the way forward? We are in the early stages but I believe the ingenuity of developers and end-users of this medium alike will usher in a new age of publishing.
About a year ago, Wired jumped out in front of many other publications with a much-ballyhooed edition of their magazine for the iPad. There was a distinct wow factor at the time. Talk about moveable type! It was fun to flip through a magazine again. There was plenty to love, but the critics who knew plenty about UX, publishing models and so on were able to poke a few holes in the initial release. Essentially they were split on like/dislike, but where was the precedent? Who was right? Well, a year later and Wired is still pushing the evolution of the medium. And it’s getting better. They’ve been an integral part of the initial thrust of magazine apps alongside the likes of Popular Mechanics, Sports Illustrated, Self, and Oprah. Just like in the 15th century, it would seem we are witnessing a publishing revolution.
The magazine apps have opened up new possibilities for making content stickier. We still have many of the same columns and guest appearances by our favorite writers, photographers and illustrators. But how about embedded video and audio files to go along with our text? Additional links to other relevant content? We can now do these things — and under a familiar masthead, one with equity. These capabilities foster a new kind of immersion in topics of interest to readers everywhere. At least those with tablets. What about the tactile experience? To be honest, not everything needs to be tactile to our fingers. A little mental stimulation is just fine, thank you very much.
But as the critics pointed out, a few growing pains persist. And these are not all tied to the developers — some of them fall back onto us marketers. For example, in a recent Wired edition for the iPad I noticed several static ads that looked as if they’d been “ripped from the headlines,” or maybe more appropriately, “ripped from the print edition.” These were certainly a missed opportunity to take advantage of the technology being employed. Also, a few with QR codes. QR codes in a magazine app? It’s easy to surmise that no one has really figured out how to best implement these codes. But seriously, am I going to take out my mobile device, scan the QR code from my tablet, and find myself enlightened? I’m more likely to find myself mildly annoyed without even scanning the code. This before I swipe through to the next article. These electronic editions are a specific medium and so they require a bit of attention in how they are utilized. We’re learning, just as Gutenberg’s contemporaries did before they began spewing forth centuries of learning into the world, fostering a new generation of luminaries. So with a little ingenuity on the part of developers (and a little help from us), new ways of capitalizing on this burgeoning technology will continue to surface. But I digress. We were speaking about magazine apps, not QR codes.
From the business side, ingenuity has already served many of the tablet ‘zine companies well. The apps have served as new ways of hooking additional readers when they were being lost to browsing online. Sure, the big publishers still manage to get folks signing on for year-long subscriptions. But now, they can also sell more one-off editions because they’ve wiggled their way into the lifestyle of today’s consumer and made it easy for them to access content (except <ahem> for those long download times). And a few publishers like Condé Naste are now offering discounts over print subscriptions. Call now! At the other end of the spectrum there are smaller niche publications who serve a specific clientele (more likely to have already invested in tablets) who can now play on the same field with the Wired‘s and Time‘s of the world. So the electronic edition makes a lot of sense for them as well.
Time will tell whether the electronic edition is here to stay. Ingenuity will foster new ways of evolving this technology and what it eventually becomes. And even where it lives. Textbooks, car manuals and even more, I’m sure. It will be exciting to see — and read.
June 2nd, 2011 by Dave Alsobrooks
We’re currently looking into ingenuity as part of our #smallthinking series. I got a firsthand experience of what ingenuity looks like yesterday, when I was privy to a tour of the Shopbot facility here in Durham, NC. I was excited to see what I thought was one machine, but what turned out to be several working units and some higher level concepts floating in the ether.
The folks at Shopbot, including Ted Hall, the founder, are obsessed with details. They make sure they have the best quality rails, motors and electronics to run their super-cool digital fabrication machines. Partly, because clients clamor for them, but partly because Ted wants to make sure the machine runs well enough for his own use if nothing else. He really believes in the Shopbot mission which seems to be placing digital fabrication capabilities in the hands of people who might not otherwise be able to enter the category. So while some of their competitors charge MUCH more for comparable machines, Shopbot keeps putting out hi-test units at a fraction of the cost. There are currently about 7,000 or 8,000 machines in use across the country.
It’s really cool to see these machines at work. They sound like Star Wars droids at work, but with much less sarcasm. Their movements are precise. I walked on the floor at the Durham facility with a notion of typical applications: wood, routers, furniture, signage, etc. Nothing too fancy. But Ted changed the trajectory of my thinking by placing these tools into the realm of digital fabrication. To him, digital fabrication is not about automating old ways of making things. It is really about finding completely new ways of making new products. Bringing ideas to life. For example, we saw a 5-axis machine that basically cuts out the tray you place your mini-pretzels on when you’re in an airplane. Somebody has to make these things, right? The Shopbot enables the designer to build in certain features that would otherwise require two or more machines. Anyhow, think of this machine hooked up to a Kinect, so that anyone could carve out human figures with a few mouse clicks. Woah! That’s a new way of getting something done.
So the inspiration I took away was to constantly look for news ways of doing things. Try them out. See what works. Keep asking ” What if?” There’s a lot of ingenuity going on in the Shopbot brain trust. A lot of “what if?” questions. And, it seems, a few answers to boot.
May 24th, 2011 by Gwen McCarter
We Durhamites love our town. It’s undeniable. At the suggestion that the area still needs to grow into a better version of itself, we cast a sidelong glance, purse our lips, and feel sorry for the person who is blind to how fantastic Durham already is.
With such eager supporters, it might seem as if Durham were on a permanent path to greatness. Truth be told, we’ve come this far because of good old-fashioned moxie. We are where we are thanks to the very real ingenuity of the individuals, families, philanthropists, activists, bloggers, athletes, artists, huge technology companies, and tiny neighborhood businesses that have stuck their necks out for Durham over years and decades. Our countless small initiatives managed to come together in harmony and built something big — a wonderfully gritty, smart, and impassioned community.
Up to now, we’ve kept that trend going by being both creative and prolific in our efforts to kickstart and sustain budding projects, and by being willing to take the right risks at the right time. It can feel as if we’re on an unstoppable roll, with The Cookery opening its food business incubator last month, the Bull City Startup Stampede giving new downtown businesses a leg up through the end of May, and this summer’s scheduled renovation of the old Chesterfield Building on the corner of Duke and Main, which promises to add a fresh spot for mixed-use space to the downtown revitalization. And that’s just to name a few reasons why Durham is the envy of personality-deficient towns and entrepreneurial-wannabes everywhere.
With so much buzz in the air, it’s easy to assume we can ride the wave forever. But here’s the rub: Doing more of what’s worked in the past doesn’t guarantee success. For a new project to catch on, it should be conceived carefully. And to be innovative, it should offer something clearly better. Continuing to churn up tiny, effective waves of influence is how we will end up buttressing this vibrant city of ours. In other words, to make something great, we have to remember to think small.
I got to thinking about this a little while back when Chris Heivly, executive director of seed-stage investment program LaunchBox Digital, said that the “big picture” of Durham has to develop organically out of everything we do. As Heivly told Durham Magazine on 6 April: “I don’t want to be the next Boston, the next Austin, the next anything. I want to be Durham.”
The man makes a good point. So to help keep Durham a thriving, authentic place, take a closer look at your latest project idea. Is it small enough to work on its own merits, producing immediate results? Is it digestible enough? Those are the questions to ask, because the short-term is where it’s at. Being precise and timely, small ideas can be developed, tested, and implemented while they are still relevant and inspiring. Smaller thinking lets you act in real time and effect tangible change. Right now. Any long-term, lofty effects you want it to have on the character of Durham are just icing on the cake.
With that in mind, if your project needs a fresh start, try sketching out how you would begin to experiment with a small idea. Identify a current and pressing issue with local implications, and use these tips to help get the process started.
Don’t burden your idea with fluff.
Take the lines of your favorite car. Maybe an Aston Martin does it for you. What about that particular year makes it more beautiful than any other? I’d be willing to bet that the designer followed one small idea, and it paid off.
Translation: Start by articulating the problem you’re trying to solve. Dig deep and jot down a word or short phrase that sums up your purpose. Refer back to it whenever you feel yourself getting lost in decision-making.
Before I left to spend a year of college in Freiburg, Germany, a favorite professor told me, “If anyone asks you to go anywhere with them, go. Just go.” That kernel of an idea was both simple and inspiring enough to put into action, and through a series of small moments, it led to a richer, more colorful experience.
Translation: Experiment. The beauty of small ideas is that you can test out new waters constantly. And if something isn’t working, you can let it fail without worrying about having wasted months on it. Go, and go often.
May 20th, 2011 by Dave Alsobrooks
Things happen for a reason. A common enough sentiment, but one that also holds much truth. In every endeavor we have a reason. In an ideal world, this reason is consistently tied to creating better ways of doing something whether it’s growing an herb garden, serving inner-city youth or constructing a research methodology. In a not so ideal world (the one we live in), our raison d’être is the effort of at least looking for needed improvements in our world. In this, the third installment of our Virtues of Smaller Thinking, we will explore ingenuity and how it impacts our reaching the goals we’ve set.
We’ve established that ingenuity is the act of finding better ways of doing stuff. But how? What’s the impact for ourselves? For others?
You might expect me to say that ingenuity begins with innovation or inspiration, but this is where ingenuity eventually points us. Ingenuity is harder, and is first about honesty. An altogether honest assessment of the condition of our being or the quality of an object under consideration. This is not the honesty of family reunions — this is the brutal honesty of credit reports and blood pressure tests. In Shift, Peter Arnell tells us of his own reluctance to see himself as a 400 lb. man in favor of a more benign self-identification as merely a creative person, without all the baggage. He got past this with an unsettling realization — his reality — which led to a better way of living and his losing 250 pounds. Like Peter, only after we assess the subject at hand can we focus on how best to improve upon it and truly move into wider worlds of possibility. Without this candid conversation, we’re probably having the wrong conversations as we move forward.
So how does this impact our work? Our processes? This is what we’ll explore in more depth over the next few weeks, but know there’s a good chance it might not always be pretty. We have to trust ourselves. Ingenuity can sometimes be found in fundamental changes in how we perceive ourselves and our outputs. In other words, something like epiphanies and bolts of lightning. A lot of the time, though, ingenuity manifests itself in lots of tiny revolutions as we constantly refine the way we do things. Constantly. These incremental improvements do add up and they do improve our lives. So keep your mind open to possibilities no matter where they lie. And never suppress the little voice that cries out “What if?” before hearing it out.
As for the impact of ingenuity, let’s travel back in time for a moment. All the way back to the 15th century. The world is awakening from what we now call the Dark Ages. Feudal life is not a charmed one. There is no internet and no Facebook. Hell, there are hardly even any books — and even these aren’t available en masse. Along comes Johannes Gutenberg and his magical mechanical moving type. He found a better, faster way of printing books, most famously his 42-line Bible. Before his ingenuity took root, books took months or even years to transcribe by hand. Turns out, even though he changed the world, Gutenberg never became a Renaissance rock star because of his Bibles and Latin texts. He had to borrow money to keep his operations going and was even taken to court. But he persevered. And if we look closer his ingenuity produced a radical contribution to the world that continues to give.
Many folks trace everything in our modern world right back to Gutenberg’s dingy workshop. Skyscrapers, VoIP, Gatorade and the combustion engine. Indeed, Mark Twain wrote, “What the world is today, good and bad, it owes to Gutenberg.”
Movable type fed the awakening of Europe and subsequently the entire world. It helped bring about the Renaissance because texts were suddenly easier to distribute. Learning took off. On second thought, it was more like learning blasted off. Martin Luther’s 95 Theses were printed and circulated widely due to Gutenberg’s advancements and then eventually issued as broadsheets which led to the development of the newspaper. And now everything we know is doubled every 900 days. So while ingenuity spawned an original contribution in this instance it inspired many more to come, both directly and indirectly. Another way of saying ingenuity doesn’t sleep.
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