Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

Last week was National Library Week in the U.S. I’m coming to it late* but as far as I’m concerned, most weeks should involve a library:) Why, you may ask? So many reasons! And for those of us North of the Border, stay tuned because October is Canadian Library Month!

Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future.
— Ray Bradbury

NLW-banner_0

 

* I blame a hectic work schedule but mostly the glorious backlog of library books on my shelves, just waiting to be read:)

Read Full Post »

A friend with a shared love for Harry Potter sent me a link the other day. Some creative and determined person decided to make a Weasley clock.*
The magical ‘Harry Potter’ location clock exists in DIY form

For those who may have missed this detail from the HP book and/or movie, the Weasley clock is a magical JK Rowling invention that tracks each Weasley family member’s location and displays it on an antique clock face.

Rowling thought it up, and a Muggle made it real. How cool is that?

So with thanks to my friend, today’s installment of #ThingsILike is the real-world power of fiction.

*

“If you just focus on what you know, you’re blinding yourself to new opportunities.”
— Tyler Jacks, MIT

There are a lot of discussions of this topic out there, both contemporary and historical, but it’s a point I like to touch on periodically. A writer imagines a thing and someone else finds a way to make it real.

That’s magic right there.

This applies to specific items like the clock but also to everything from emotional states to broader goals. Want to generate ideas, stir up communal interest, and apply creativity to complex problems like living in space long-term? Tap the power of fiction:
The White House Wants To Use Science Fiction To Settle The Solar System

How to get into space? Excite the minds of young (and not so young) people with stirring tales of adventures in space. This applies to stories from Asimov, Clarke and other Golden Age of Science Fiction authors, but also to more recent blockbusters like Andy Weir’s The Martian.

The latter was particularly good at building future versions of current technologies, and NASA was happy to help Weir build his fictional (for now) world from the Popular Science article on the support NASA gave Ridley Scott as he turned the book into a blockbuster movie:

If you want to understand why it is that NASA loves The Martian and is so gung ho for this movie, you have to realize that this movie more or less presents exactly their future vision, minus all the drama.

*

I’ve cited this quote before but it’s so fitting I’ll use it again:

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

That’s the power of fiction.

———

* There may be other such clocks out there (in fact, I hope there are) but this is the version that caught my attention. Feel free to build more!

Read Full Post »

Wait, what?

Yep, that’s the takeaway from a recent Bloomberg article about humans with (very, very) rare genetic mutations:

These Superhumans Are Real and Their DNA Could Be Worth Billions

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the focus of the article is on drug companies exploiting such mutations to develop new blockbuster products, but let’s just take a second to look at the bottom line:

Rare mutations > affect a tiny percent of the human population = superpowers.
/enough said

Yes, it’s Unbreakable all over again, only this time for real. If there’s a way to convert such mutations into useful (rather than simply profitable) innovations, great. Without (hopefully) the evil mastermind willing to sacrifice innocent lives in the search for outliers.

Are there challenges to life as a “superhero”? Of course, the most obvious being the dramatic downsides for those with dangerous mutations like insensitivity to pain, but I have to say: I find this hopeful.

Why? Because it’s a reminder that there is no one “normal” and that the continuum of human evolution isn’t done with us yet, not by a long shot.

That the range of human experience is deep and varied, and that there is room in our world for everyone.

And that the impossible can, under extraordinary circumstances, become possible.

Read Full Post »

This is the coolest thing: a designer decided to tackle fifty problems in fifty days. I think it’s terrific when creative people find ways to use their talents to fix problems, particularly when they focus on challenges most of us have been living with for years. It’s easy to get used to doing things one way even when that way is not optimal, and once acclimated it can be hard to even see the issue, much less fix it.

http://50problems50days.com

This is what happens when creative people look at the world with fresh eyes, and decide that they can, and should, do something to make it better. Constructive creativity for the win.

What “fifty problems” would you choose?

Read Full Post »