The November issue of The Atlantic magazine celebrates its 160th anniversary with a cover story on a search for the Science of Creativity — at search giant Google.
The Atlantic’s Senior Editor Derek Thompson, “was granted rare access to the secretive lab at X to see what it can teach us about breakthroughs and the lost art of invention.”
It’s a well written piece:
A snake-robot designer, a balloon scientist, a liquid-crystals technologist, an extra dimensional physicist, a psychology geek, an electronic-materials wrangler, and a journalist walk into a room…
The setting is X, the so-called moonshot factory at Alphabet, the parent company of Google… The people in this room have a particular talent: They dream up far-out answers to crucial problems.
Thompson’s conclusion after several days in the lab:
“Insisting on quick products and profits is the modern attitude of innovation that X continues to quietly resist. For better and worse, it is imbued with an appreciation for the long gestation period of new technology.”
Foremski’s Take: There’s little that’s “secretive” about Google’s X initiatives. The company gets enormous attention for its far out ideas such as mining asteroids and stem-cell burgers. Its most popular one is the self-driving car initiative which gets so many media stories you’d think Google was a car maker.
It has been so incredibly successful in publicizing its futuristic ideas that reporters rarely ever report on its actual business.
Google makes no money from any of its lab projects. They have absolutely no material impact on its business today and well into the future. And as Thompson noted, Google is in no hurry to make them into profitable businesses. So why do they exist?
There’s no need to develop them further because they already serve a valuable purpose — they are engineered to be a series of clickbait distractions for reporters to write stories about science and innovation. It’s easier than delving into how Google made $90 billion last year.
If reporters looked closely at Google’s business they would find better and more important stories that impact our world and our communities today — not in a distant future.
However, few reporters understand how Google makes money — ask them something basic such as to name Google’s two largest business groups and they cannot. It means they cannot even start to understand the deeper complexities of how money is made on the Internet.
Google’s X is not about the science of creativity — it’s about the use of science as a distraction of public attention — from a secretive business organization that influences the economies of nations. It’s a big, bigger story.
I love music. I love the virtuosity. Music’s not just words and chat, it’s talent, skill and virtuosity. Much more sexy!
When I was in New York in the 70s my showbiz friends introduced me to Bette Midler and we would go over to her brownstone in the Village on Saturday afternoons and she would make tea and we would create material … songs and dialog … for her new Broadway show, Clams on the Half Shell Revue.
In the event I was invited backstage by Bette to the opening night and I had the fun of seeing her perform some of my lines and one of my songs on the Broadway stage. It was a big buzz for a young Aussie in NYC in the 70s. A different era.
But, on the night, performing the supporting act for her show was the jazz god of vibes, Lionel Hampton. I was a huge fan and was more excited to see him even than Bette. Just kidding. Anyway, here is the great legend of the vibes … Go Lionel! …
Is it true? Fact check. Search more information. Facts and figures. True news or fake news? When you post this emoji you just give neutral information. You are not polarised or biased. You are a sort of wikipedia. Just get the facts out. Give all the information you can on the current situation. Be forensic.
Be Negative. Think inside the box. Use Black Hat thinking. Say why you think it’s wrong. Why it won’t work. Why it’s not true. Why you do not believe it or do not agree with it. Note that if you’re simply being emotional then that comes under another emoji. Be judgmental.
This is the emotional emoji. Feelings. The full range from comedy to tragedy. Emotions are important. It is better when they are informing your thinking not just controlling your thinking. Moods are part of life. Are you in an up mood or a down mood? Just say what you feel about the situation without bothering to explain. You hate it. You love it. Say, “I’m being emotional”. Feelings and personal values are part of every situation. Be emotional.
American thinker, Mark Twain, said, “Kindness is a language the blind can see and the deaf can hear”. Just because the generous emoji is a bag of cash doesn’t mean it has to be cash. It’s symbolic. It can be time. A ten minute visit to a friend. It can be energy. A good deed or a kind word. Be generous when you can. Offer kindness first. But, no need to be a sucker. Be generous.
This emoji is for creative ideas. The ideas do not have to be sensible or logical. You can use provocations. You can try things out. You can use x10 thinking to escape from the box! The purpose is to have new ideas. Your career, business, investment and commercial success is directly related to the quality of your decisions. Every day you make decisions that will either increase your wealth or decrease your wealth. Every day you do things that either create value or drain value. Be innovative.
This is strategic and laid back. This is detached and objective. Here you are organising your thinking about the situation. Cool is for thinking about your thinking. For giving instructions to yourself and others. Cool is neutral. You can be exploring the subject through the use of the other thinking emojis: Be forensic. Be emotional. Be judgmental etc. The possibilities, options, strategies, tactics, pathways, trajectories, networks and proximities that are available for you to think about will either accelerate or inhibit your own personal productivity and results. Be strategic. Be cool.
Use the crown emoji for The Wisdom of King Solomon or the Wisdom of Queen Elizabeth or any wise person you can find. WISDOM = KNOWLEDGE + EXPERIENCE. Where can we find wisdom? Who has the most knowledge? Who has the most experience? At least 50+ years. Who has seen it all before? Who was there in history? Consequences? Survival? Predictions? Be wise. Or, find someone who is!
Modern song lyrics like Pharrell Williams “Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth” and Bobby McFerrins’ “Don’t worry Be Happy” are not new ways of thinking and go back at least 2500 years as far as the Epicureans of Ancient Greece. But humans haven’t changed much since then so it’s still very good advice. Don’t worry. Be happy.
R&R. Rest & Recuperation. Recharge the batteries. Take-it-easy. Your brain is the biggest engine in your body. It consumes more fuel and generates more energy. Give it a rest and a time to recover. Give it a holiday from your screens and your gadgets. Your physical, mental and emotional health cannot be separated from the pattern of choices you make. Every hour of every day you are designing your future. If your designs are tired or weak your future cannot be strong. Be healthy.
In today’s world there are BIG issues of privacy and security. Your own privacy. Your own security is at constant risk in the crackling chaos of the internet–the 24/7/365 whirling, howling, cacophonous wilderness of the greedy grasping global marketplace with its siren songs, ferocious fads and hoaxes, toxic wastes and vicious moods, its callous explosions, its viral plagues and epidemics and cruel and sudden extinctions. Your own survival and growth, in a Darwinian sense, cannot be separated from the pattern of how you make your decisions over time. If you don’t do your own better thinking others will do it for you. These other people, institutions or authorities may not do it well at all or even in your best interests. Do be careful.