Thursday, March 20, 2008

R.I.P. Arthur

Arthur C. Clarke, author of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, passed away yesterday at the fine old age of 90. He was not a particular hero of ours - at least, he wasn’t, until we read his obit this morning and were reminded of his rare blend of skills. Clearly, he was a leading example of what can happen when art has an appetite for science, and as such, fully deserves to be the first oil portrait in our Hall of Fame.

By delving into the tedium of existing knowledge, and intuiting vivid possibilities from there, he was able to describe the future – for example, his 1945 forecast of telecommunications satellites came a decade before even the first orbital rocket flight.

Would the likes of Directv have happened without him? Most likely. But by giving esoteric notions form in the public imagination, he hastened the pace of progress. He inspired young scientists. He built an acceptance of, and even a hunger for, world-changing ideas. He created paths for science to follow.

That’s what creativity can do to lifeless fact. It can intuit new meanings, new applications, and new connections. Not only that – these imaginings can be real, long before fact catches up.

So, what facts are sitting around your business, doing nothing, waiting for a curious, lateral mind to turn them into a competitive advantage? Channel your Arthur C.

Update: Here's what Seth Godin (another hero of ours) had to say about what we can all learn from Arthur C. Clarke.

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