Watch this send up of TED Talks courtesy of The Onion. It not only captures the archetype of today's innovator, but also what it looks like the moment an innovative idea breaks into the mainstream:
- Presenter wearing t-shirt, blazer and jeans, symboling a rejection of traditional power embodied in business suits or uniforms
- A Steve Jobs-style presentation on a darkened stage; the single mind who brought the idea into existence; the light that's about to emanate from the darkness
- Rebelliously simple PowerPoints; another rejection of what's considered normal; the use of images not only hits emotional buttons more than text, but communicates "the value of my idea is self-evident; it does not need to be explained with words"
- That look when the speaker clicks "forward" on the wireless mouse and a wave of amazement hits the crowd. "Are you not stunned?"
Contrast this with the older archetypes of invention: There's Edison, the "Wizard of Menlo Park" who had reporters come to him to reveal the latest creations of his invention "factory." Or, the well-worn Manhattan Project approach where a group of elite scientists toil in secret until something world-changing and always dangerous is tested in some desert. Go back further and there's Galileo presenting his telescope to the Venetian Senate. Each capture the economies and power structures of their times. Each remains a part of our understanding and expectation of what innovation looks like.My favorite quote from the Onion video:
"We're looking in the eyes of two horrible birds, and we just need a rock that's big enough, efficient enough and innovaive enough to bludgeon them. That rock is an idea."