Stony Brook University

New Tech Blog: Max On Media
Max On Media is a technology-based blog written by Burke Liburt. Burke Liburt is the co-founder and CMO of SynchroPET, a biomedical device company that has licensed patented nuclear imaging technologies from Brookhaven National Laboratories. He has developed marketing strategies at television groups (Dun & Bradstreet/ ABC Television) and at his own multi-media company. Read Max On Media Now!
Stony Brook Innovation Center Blog

Innovating Your Way Around in the MisInformation Age

Jul 26 2014

The most helpful topic for an Innovation Center blog would seem to be examining whether innovativeness can be instilled in people the way installing computer programs enables us to do different things, and if so, how is it downloaded, or learned?  Is there a single Skill Set underpinning all the other attributes that are identifiable in the majority of innovators, short of the few savants floating around, and even there?  Do innovations like the light bulb and Internet arise out of nowhere, or evolve as species do: putting similar things together again and again, and how is that done? 

I once read in a book on the big table in a sales meeting room, which is quite different from those in conference rooms: more like those portable ones that people put on their patio for parties, so the business owner can pack up and get outa town in a heartbeat, that “No on grew up wanting to be a salesman,” which nowadays would say “salesperson.”  And yet, more people become one, in one guise or another, than anything else.

        Some time later, I came across another book called A Nation of Salesmen by Earl Shorris, who was one of the ad men in on the invention and dissemination of credit cards.  That’s right, folks: banks didn’t come up with the gimmick; ad agencies did, who convinced banks that they could misconstrue being in debt as having credit well enough to get otherwise sensible people to lap way-hay-hay too many of them up, and the rest, as they say, is history.

        To the best of my knowledge, which isn’t all that good in this arena, GEICO’s first ad campaign was that “We cut out the middleman,” and guess what: untold numbers of people didn’t notice that the TV was the middleman! 

        There are Good Games and bad games, Good Lessons and bad lessons, and Good Information and bad information.

        A brilliant insurance man began his talk to several hundred brokers, who utilized his firm, by asking, “What business are we in?”  One more time: the more Obvious something is, the more easily it is Overlooked.  “Insurance!” came the resounding reply from every corner of the audience.  The kindly fellow couldn’t help but smile.  Wrong!  “We’re all in the word business,” he corrected them.

When a frail, elderly woman at her wits end to select the right Medicare plan for her, asked, “How do you know who to trust?” I replied that someone, who shows you what you
don’t understand in terms of what you already know, is revealing the truth, whereas someone who sticks to the point is concealing it because a point is meaningless without a context.

I am considered enough of an expert about Long Term Care insurance to have been interviewed on Family Entertainment Network TV and radio on the subject, the main thrust of which was that few people discuss it until it’s too late: “What do we do now that mom or dad (or I) need Long Term Care?” even though people see nursing homes and Assisted Living facilities popping up pretty much everywhere all over Long Island and the city, and a quick online search reveals that it’s a 52% chance each person will need Long Term Care, meaning it’s almost inevitable if two people are together.  Something like 100 people, with whom the issue came up, said they already have a policy, not one of whom realized that there are plans that pay cash instead of reimbursing bills from credentialed agencies and facilities, and some that have worldwide coverage, so someone can stay in one of the many countries where a dollar goes a lot farther than here.  That isn’t to say that they should have gotten such a plan; just that certainly regarding something of that significance, they should have known about it.  When people ask what I think is best for them, I tell them I don’t think; I read and add.

Someone called me out of the blue from a solar panel company with $0 cost for the solar panels; just reducing my electric bill by around 30% on average.  Not too bad, except I could only sell my house henceforth if the new owner agreed to keep using the solar panels.  I got shown all kinds of charts and graphs about the many people, who’ve gotten solar panels, and how much they saved; only the magic of what I call The Uniform Structure of Information gave me to recognize that there are other ways of providing solar panels, just as Burger King entered the arena proclaiming that theirs are flame-broiled, not sitting in fat on a grill like MacDonalds’, and wouldn’t ya know it, but Wendy’s are square.  As luck would have it, I got a flyer with the weekly supermarket circulars for another solar panel company right away, whose salesperson claimed that you save more over twenty years, buying the panels and getting the full electricity benefit, than leasing the panels and letting the solar panel company sell most of the electricity generated to the utility company.  Many people don’t have the money to buy the panels, however.  I told the leasing company salesman that he would do better, giving people the whole picture, and leaving it for them to decide, rather than play one hand behind the back.

My sister forwarded to me Eckhart Tolle’s Weekly Present Moment Reminder:

“The pollution of the planet is only an outward reflection of an inner psychic pollution: millions of unconscious individuals not taking responsibility for their inner peace.”

He writes books with titles like
The Power of Now, which I need hardly add by this point in my few posts, devote more space to illustrative anecdotes and analogies than actual exposition about the power of now, much less getting oneself there.  I can’t say that I’ve read Tolle’s books thoroughly enough to evaluate them as philosophy, psychology, or literature; just enough to be confident that he leaves out a crucial aspect of his point about psychic pollution, which is noteworthy for understanding the conditions that foster innovations of every kind, be they cleaning up the world or your mind.  I remember when you couldn’t see the NYC skyline from the upper roadway of the LI Expressway three exits before it, where it now might be called crystal clear, and fish didn’t live in the East or Hudson Rivers nearby.  Pollution is a broad term; too broad to be meaningful, in and of itself, however far along someone carries its concurrence in our psyche.
The arts have ALWAYS correlated the light, waters, sunlight, and land with how our intellect, emotions, spirit, and body are interrelated respectively, HOW to get them in synch, how we function when they are and when they aren’t.  Call it our Internal Ecology.


“O thou whose face hath felt the Winter’s wind,
    Whose eye has seen the snow clouds hung in mist,
    And the black elm tops ‘mong the freezing stars,
    To thee the spring will be a harvest time.”

            from “What the Thrush Said,” by John Keats


as but one clear, profound, intense example of the pattern on a grand scale.  Who hasn’t seen a cartoon illustrating getting an idea with a lightbulb?  We cry when we’re sad, sweat when we’re afraid, boil when we’re angry.  You get the idea.  Often, one or another element is missing, on purpose, to highlight the absence of intellect, emotion, spiritual qualities, or corporeal sensibility, but make no mistake about it: if you hope to be innovative, much less rid yourself of psychic pollution and attain inner peace, you need to acquire knowledge about all four quadrants of life and skill at implementing and coordinating them.

Stony Brook University Innovation Center, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3775

Phone: 631.632.7171
Fax: 631.632.8181