I had a rather interesting time yesterday evening, because I was invited to give a presentation on the use of social media to a group of inventors in Birmingham, Alabama.
I think most of us have certain ideas about inventors. Some people picture them as eccentric scientists. For myself, a vision of Beaker from the Muppet Show usually pops into my head around this point. Speaking of which, do you recall that incredibly funny YouTube video of Beaker playing and singing ODE TO JOY?
Actually, while I think about it, do you know any good quotes about inventors? I think that my current favorite is the one from the English film director Alfred Hitchcock who famously said: “These are bagpipes. I understand the inventor of the bagpipes was inspired when he saw a man carrying an indignant, asthmatic pig under his arm. Unfortunately, the man-made sound never equaled the purity of the sound achieved by the pig.”
I think that’s very unfair. I personally like the sound of the bagpipes. I’ve even thought about trying to learn the Irish (or Uilleann) Bagpipes, which are a completely different kettle of fish to the better-known Scottish variety.
Something else just popped into my head. Someone once told me that “A gentleman is someone who knows how to play the bagpipes … but doesn’t!” (I think the original quote related to the accordion, but it works just as well for the bagpipes.)
I don’t know how you do it. You’ve made me wander off into the weeds again. What were we talking about? Oh yes, my speaking to the inventors. So here’s how it all came about…
One of my friends – Brian LaGrave of BDH Consulting – is a bona fide inventor who attends the monthly meetings of an inventor’s club in Birmingham, Alabama (who knew inventors had clubs?). Anyway, I think they were short of a good speaker for this month’s meeting, so they ended up asking me instead (grin).
I live in Huntsville, Alabama, which is about 90 miles north of Birmingham. Over the years I have developed a tremendous ability to get lost at the drop of a hat. So I drove a little way down Highway #65 and met Brian and his 13-year old son Sam at a gas station and we car-pooled the rest of the way down.
Before we proceed, I’d just like to mention that Sam is a really great young lad – in addition to giving his dad directions to get us to the meeting in the depths of the Birmingham backstreets (and then getting us back out again), he took charge of the audio-visual stuff and controlled the slides on my computer for me, thereby leaving me free to wander around talking and waving my arms around in the air as is my wont.
I really enjoyed myself. I would like to tell you about all of the weird and wonderful inventions that these inventive inventors are inventing, but the whole meeting was under a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which makes a lot of sense because otherwise no one would talk about their inventions.
Suffice it to say that I ended up giving a talk that bounced around from topic to topic with the agility of a mountain goat. In addition to social media (the official definition of which is “The use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.”), we covered a lot of other topics. One point I made was that it’s important to get your ducks in a row. When it comes to announcing and promoting an invention, for example, social media only works in the context of a bigger picture. There’s no point in creating a “viral happening” that brings hundreds of thousands of people to your website … only to find one of those annoying “Under Construction” signs.
I would tell you more, but I’m hoping that more groups and companies will be interested in my giving the same talk to them, so I think we’ll leave the rest shrouded in mystery (he said, mysteriously)…
The funny thing is I sort of make it up as I go along based on the reactions of the audience -- I prefer to have slides with images and then talk to the images -- one big point was that you have to have all of your ducks in a row -- there's no point in using social media to bring folks to your website, only to find an "Under Construction" sign.
One of the guys in my office came down -- he's built and sold a number of businesses -- and he was kind enough to say that he discovered quite a few things in my talk of which he was not previously aware...
I don't know if this is what you're looking for, and these are kind of old standards, but my two favorites are (paraphrasing):
"Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,"
- Thomas Edison
That's the kind of "genius" I'm gifted with, except 1% might be a little generous.
"If we knew what we were doing, we wouldn't call it research,"
- Albert Einstein
In my job, I do a lot of research!
Your discussions were excellent, educational and much appreciated.
Any company that doesn't pay you an obscene amount of money to train their employees is missing out on being wildly successful, filthy rich and even more attractive :-) Okay, or something along those lines...
Hey, as a side note, have you thought about trademarking the Hawaiian shirt? :-)
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.