Ideas don’t die

Ideas - Refresh Teesside - January 2014

That’s a very serious title for an article but it sums up quite nicely the crux of a talk I delivered last month.

The Refresh Teesside events are a great opportunity to meet like minded creative and technical types in the area. Every month there are talks on a wide range of issues and said talks are about five minutes in length.

I was asked to speak at this year’s first event and wanted to talk about how keeping old design ideas, back up files and notebooks had helped me deliver for clients and customers.

It’s a bit tricky to make the words ‘back everything up and try not to forget stuff‘ last for more than 30 seconds, let alone five minutes. Thus, I opened the floor out to questions before the event via social media.

With this collection of questions, I had answers for each one and ordered them accordingly in a presentation. With the in the presentation I wanted to answer everything and as a true presenter not look at the screen. I did this by memorising the answers to each of the questions. It was easy considering that some of them were joke answers to match with the questions. But there were a few that were actually difficult to give straight answers to and thus became lists and some needed expanded answers that were too long to put on a slide.

After completing the questions section, I moved into the body of the presentation where I talked about the importance of using your mind for storage, a ‘head in the clouds’ if you’ll pardon the pun.

This then moved nicely into never deleting anything, a key part of the presentation. I then raise the subject of a project I have been involved with where the initial designs and concepts that were taken forward to a client and later accepted by them had actually been conceived some five years previously. By remembering that this information existed it was simple to retrieve it and incorporate it back into the design process.

To add a little extra humour with a tinge of reflection I then proceeded to explain how I invented the modern smartphone. 12 years ago.

While cleaning through some old design work from university and college, I came across a project that I had undertaken regarding mobile communications. There was a section based on what the future of mobile design could be, in which I designed full touchscreen devices with operating systems that changed the content on the screens based on readings from sensors such as gyroscopes. Just like when you rotate your smartphone to look at a picture landscape mode. It was even funnier when I raised the subject of inventing Google Glass some 16 years ago, with proof from an old sketch in a notebook from 1998.

The key points that I wanted people to come away with were that:

  • Always back up your files
  • Always keep all notebooks
  • Use your “Mind Palace”
  • Ideas don’t die, they don’t have an expiration date

That last point is most important because you can’t kill ideas they will always be there. It’s just quite handy when you have old notebooks and files to lead you back to them.




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