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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

Those Innovation Blu-ue-ue / uessss

Apr 06 2015

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? 

Does anybody really know what time it is? We ran the race; the race was won
Does anybody really care? By running slowly.

                                 Robert Lamm Ian Anderson


When I saw a book called How Proust Can Change Your Life on the Chairman of the Business Department at Suffolk Community College’s desk a while back, I posed to him, “The question is, How Proust Can Boost Your Business.”  As I told my sons when they gazed, daunted, at my bookcases, like mountaineers at the foothills of Everest, “James Joyce said he spent a lifetime writing his books; you should spend a lifetime reading them.  Taste a few pages of this and that, and get the flavor of Plato or Homer, for example, which are like Mad Magazine and superhero comics without the pictures, on a grander scale, profounder level, starker intensity, clear through to where it reaches out and touches, perhaps even grabs you.” 
A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu, Proust’s monumental cycle of novels in probably the most cyclical, intricate prose ever written, along with Joyce’s, akin to the poetry of Shakespeare’s plays, is generally referred to in English as Remembrance of Things Past, but literally translated as Searching for Lost Time in a more recent, to my mind awful rendering.  Reading it is a marvelous exercise in Expanding Time—not to mention getting a glimpse into how much you may have shrunk your own life—like watching the hundred greatest movies in slow motion with all of the directors’ instructions and actors’ ponderings before and during rehearsals about their roles, filling in the additional time.  The mere fact that a paper called “A Cross-Evaluation of Time in Proust and Einstein” was included in a Yale Theories of Time Seminar, among several such comparisons , should lead anyone interested in time as a factor in business to their source.
In How the Modern Age is Rewiring Your Brain, neurologist Richard Restak cites a study indicating that Attention Deficit is no longer merely a Disorder, but a lifestyle.  Marshall McLuhan skyrocketed to fame with The Medium Is the Message back when folks began wondering how gobs of TV might be affecting us, before Virtual Reality was even a glint in anyone’s eye.  A couple of decades before Karen Sobel-Lojeski in the Department of Technology and Society came up with the Virtual Distance Index to measure how detached we are and increasingly become from each other—dare I say, from reality?—the more Virtual Reality supplants this one, the X-Files had an episode called “Folie A Deux” about people at computer monitors all day turning into reptilian insects: shades of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, back in the day of typewriters.  Be very careful what you wish for.

In the August 11th post, “Innovative Re-Viewing: Disruptive Information,“ I discussed a powerful article called “The Disruption Machine,” at some length.  I left this out:
“Most big ideas have loud critics. Not disruption. Disruptive innovation as the explanation for how change happens has been subject to little serious criticism, partly because it’s headlong, while critical inquiry is unhurried …” 
The post also referenced an earlier one called “Innovation Time” with comments of NPR’s Morning Edition host about different depths of journalism, a banking expert alluding to “The Tortoise and The Hare” fable, and a conversation with a medical student about tempo’s impact on  Transfer of Information foibles.  If Chaos Theory influenced ordinary businesses like Best Buy to realize that non-management is more productive than assembly line work schedules and procedures, as Margaret Wheatley noted in Management and the New Science, and financial services brokers close more deals, expanding time, perhaps some reader might project how else enterprises—and the people in them—might benefit from more ... critical inquiry, rather than keeping up with the ever-increasing pace of Virtual Reality. 

How that is done, for our purpose here—to get a handle on the process, yourself, in how you work, that is to say, learn and communicate—is again a function of focusing on the composition elements covered throughout the posts, how well you manage each of which influences how well the others work for you.  For example, what would tempo, which pertains to time, have to do with foreground and background, which pertain to space?  Peering further into an event, making what had been the background its foreground, perhaps, or the foreground becoming part of the background, with another foreground taking its place, inherently slows down how you are examining the event.  By the same token, moving laterally from the characters to actions, settings, or time frames slows the tempo.  Everything you read, watch, or listen to manipulates this all the time.  You have to read, watch, or listen carefully to catch it, though.  The art of cooking is for the seasoning to be unnoticeable. 
Jonah Lehrer doesn’t just contend, he proves as with the Scientific Method, in Proust Was A Neuroscientist, that his work, Stravinsky’s, Picasso’s, and others, even a chef’s named Escoffier, were utilizing neurological effects that neuroscientists are only now just beginning to suspect.  Neither the chicken or the egg came first; the process does.  What is every facet of business about—particularly leadership and teamwork—but touching a nerve?  I was looking at the annual report of VF Corp. yesterday as text.  The CEO comments about using the same theme as last year, anticipating that it might raise an eyebrow, but turns that to his advantage like Errol Flynn parrying with Basil Rathbone in “Robin Hood.”  Who doesn’t think that his demonstrable composition skill is the basis for the rest that make him worth every penny of his $18 million salary package?  You can’t hurry love, as The Supremes noted; nor can you hurry business or remembrance of things past, as Proust noted in infinitely greater scope, depth,vividness, and clarity.  Get into what you’re into more; see if it doesn’t improve where you stand.

What child hasn’t looked in their mother’s or father’s dresser drawer?  I once saw an award from work in my father’s, which strangely had a piece missing from it.  Parents often have friends with children close in age to theirs, who come over to play when parents’ friends visit.  When I showed the award to one of my father’s friend’s son, lo and behold, the missing piece was in his father’s drawer.  Clearly, my father felt that he owed part of winning the award to his father, broke a piece off, and gave it to him.  We’d seen enough Westerns and war movies to give each other a nod of approval, only this wasn’t any movie.  Heckuva lesson for a couple of kids; whole bunch of ‘em.
How often have you seen someone winning an award or publishing a book acknowledge those who had a hand in it, heard a sporting event announcer comment about someone doing something that won’t show up in any statistic, or lent a hand in someone else’s efforts, gratified to have credit given wherever it is due?
I once read or heard in a PBS program that art is a better investment, dollar for dollar, than anything else.  A Gauguin recently sold for $300 million, and he went to Tahiti to paint because he couldn’t afford to live in Paris.  Anyone here interested in the art or music business?  Do you have any idea what projects students or professors are doing there, much less in engineering, medicine, or dentistry?  We’re more connected with farmers in Nigeria seeking micro-financing and recruiters in Timbuktoo than each other right here on campus, and no one even notices.  Make a name for yourself.  What else are you here for?

Come to think of it, that kid never did show me his father’s piece of mine’s medal.  Maybe he made the whole thing up.  Does that make him a liar, or … must one first bend truths in order to find them in the workplace, the same as in a novel, a cyclotron, or outer space?

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

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