Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Idea #5: Sketchbook and the Drawing of New Ideas

As I've discussed in previous posts, I've become increasingly interested in the intersections of products and disciplines and the incredible opportunities that come from them. I could write a hundred posts on it, but I'll save myself the effort (and you the pain) and just point you to an expert on the topic, Fran Johansson, author of The Medici Effect (http://www.amazon.com/Medici-Effect-Breakthrough-Insights-Intersection/dp/1591391865), with a great corresponding blog as well (http://www.themedicieffect.com/blog/.)

Now, here's a hitch that I'm specifically interested in... Clearly, the "Medici Effect" is most prominent when a product, behavior, or discipline is abstracted enough that one can make the connection between it and something else that was previously perceived as unrelated. Doing so often requires the stripping out of "minor" details that stand in the way of innovation-inspiring connections. So, what if we took one step further in the stripping out of abstraction-preventing details? What if you had an open forum of shared hand-drawn, visual, product and business concepts, completely free of text? Personally, I think it would be highly beneficial, especially as it would lead to the always interesting phenomenon of developing great ideas via misunderstanding, a process which they might as well name after me since I take part in it so much.

Idea: Sketchbook
Enable designers, artists, and concept developers to take greater advantage of the Medici Effect through the power of social web platforms. It would be an online site where people could discover and post sketches of new products, characters, and business models. Before you react and think "hey, no one will want to just give away their ideas!", just wait.. the focus will be on "idea pieces" - just the random sketches and half-baked business models that don't have a use to you, but might inspire some idea from someone else.
Sketch created by Ben Arent

Like a Facebook or Twitter, users would be able to subscribe to other artists, innovators, or others idea-makers that interest them. I could see it being great tool for helping people out of creative ruts. In fact, you could even see patent images being posted on here as long as they were properly attributed.

While the focus would be on the visual, people would be able to have side conversations to discuss and form communities around the new ideas.  An interesting aspect here is that I could see it being just as valuable to entrepreneurs developing new business models to illustrators developing new storybook characters.

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