Pure Content

Look at more stuff. Think about it harder.
7.17.2003
 fruit

I was surfing the web recently for information about serendipity and creativity when I ran across this article about the "Serendipity Generator" at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania:

In Search of Serendipity: Bridging the Gap That Separates Technologies and New Markets

It took 37 years before Kevlar – a bullet-proof, fire-resistant material first used for tires – was applied to making home shelters strong enough to resist tornadoes. It took decades before advances in reinforced fiberglass technology made for the Apollo space project were applied to the making of tennis rackets.

In retrospect, these crossover applications of technology may seem inevitable – but they are not. According to Ian C. MacMillan, director of Wharton’s Sol C. Snider Entrepreneurial Center, crossover applications depend largely on serendipity. “You have to hang around for 15 years for someone to make the connections,” says MacMillan. In many cases, the serendipity never happens – and technologies die on the vine before they achieve their full commercial potential.

To overcome those problems, MacMillan, along with Wharton professor of operations and information management Steven Kimbrough and John Ranieri, vice president of the bio-based materials business at Du Pont, have developed a patented process that will help companies analyze databases of information about technologies and suggest new markets where they might be commercialized. “We have a serendipity generator,” notes MacMillan. “Serendipity happens every now and then, but this process reiterates the connection.”

Click here for the rest of the article.


Basically, they've tried to set up a system that "searches through documents and makes connections between highly technical descriptions of properties – often familiar only to narrow 'silos' of technologies – and broader terms that could suggest market applications to those who work in other areas. As Ranieri describes it, 'We found a clever way to make a link between attributes and markets.'" That way a material developed for one purpose (such as the fiberglass mentioned above for the Apollo project) can be more readily "discovered" and applied to some heretofore unconnected project (tennis rackets).

If you want to see the patent application, it's available at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office as Process and system for matching products and markets . It's full of dry USPTO talk, but it's interesting to read (after reading the article above, especially).

--Eric at UR

7.16.2003
 fruit

Creativity Quote of the Day

"The empires of the future are the empires of the mind."

Winston Churchill

Nathan Skreslet aka The Quotemeister

7.15.2003
 fruit

Creativity Quote of the Day

"It may increase the creativity of all children if they can be taught to resist peer pressure towards conformity."

Teresa M. Amabile

Nathan Skreslet aka The Quotemeister

7.14.2003
 fruit

Creativity Quote of the Day

"The larger the number of creators in one generation, the larger will be the number of creators in the next."

Teresa M. Amabile

Nathan Skreslet aka The Quotemeister

who / what / why

At Play we create brands, strategies, new products, and better cultures for Fortune 100 companies. Our formula for creativity: "Look at more stuff. Think about it harder." Pure Content is one place where we do that, daily.

the cool kids' table

Ben Domenech
(politics, football, and a boatload of know-how)

Creative Generalist
(if Pure Content had a doppelganger ...)

Heath Row
(punk + business
+ creativity = Heath)

search

go go gadget google:



stuck in an airport

architecture
A Pattern Language

business
Creative Company
Orbiting the Giant Hairball
The Ultimate Book of Business Creativity

life
The Little Prince

philosophy
Wittgenstein's Poker

physics
The Dancing Wu Li Masters

sociology
The Tipping Point

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