Around the Office: Fostering Innovation, Unwanted Beauty Pageants, and Dazzling Kinetic Art

Sowing the Seeds of Innovation

Andy was intrigued with an education theory put forth by Harvard technology and entrepreneurship expert Tony Wagner that emphasizes skill development and motivation. Wagner says this is essential for students to be able to get (or make) jobs by the time they enter a workforce where many traditional careers have disappeared. In his new book, Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, he reimagines the classroom as a place of “play, passion and purpose” where teachers act as coaches, and testing is based on high-order skills such as critical thinking, analytic reasoning, problem solving, and written communication. This may sound idealistic or utopian, but we may owe it to the next generations to teach learning concepts and creativity in classrooms, not just facts.

Instagram Beauty Pageants and Self-Esteem

The era of social media has raised many concerns (and anxieties) for parents. The tools which Children can use to broadcast themselves worldwide can be as harmful as they are empowering. Knowing this, Caroline was impressed with parent Hollee Actman Becker who took action after seeing her daughter in a virtual Instagram beauty pageant (in which someone creates a grid of images and asks people to vote for the most attractive… and also who is least attractive). Becker created an Instagram sensation of her own when she started circulating an ultimatum: “If u post a beauty contest and tell people to vote, i will unfollow u forever…” Seeing this (and other posts) have helped many girls break from feeling bad about themselves because of these beauty pageants, and, instead, post inspirational messages of their own.

Technology with an Ability to Move

After seeing the many ways in which technology has transformed business, David is very interested in how technology is ushering in new forms of artistic expression. We were stunned by a video of the Kinetica Museum’s exhibition in London, that mixes technology, science and art. On display were balls that are perpetually falling, glass beams that create hypnotizing waves, and mechanical flowers that bloom when you come near. While flowers in nature (rather spectacularly) bloom according to the seasons, the rules we build into our machines means this is no longer the case. Let’s hope the responsibility to make technology bloom is well-placed.