Fun Friday Links: Lemonade Stands, AT&T’s Innovation Hackathons, and From Paper to Pixels

Filed Under Mindjet

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Arwen Petty

by
July 11, 2014

Welcome to Conspire’s Fun Friday Links, a weekly collection of interesting discoveries from around the Web. Most of the time, the goal is to get you thinking differently about innovation, collaboration, business culture, and life in general. Other times, we may toss an infographic or fun video your way. Submissions are welcome, and you can send them to conspire@mindjet.com for consideration.

What Lemonade Stands Say About American Innovation

Most American children are familiar with the idea — if not the sometimes soul-crushing experience — of running a sidewalk lemonade stand. Even if you didn’t do it yourself, chances are the concept at least showed itself in a mathematical word problem or two. And while it may not really seem like it, the notion of teaching our children early on about risk, budgets, entrepreneurship, and profits through the medium of squashed fruit is apparently quite indicative of the American innovation ideal. From Forbes:

“Meanwhile, many Americans are concerned that our children, compared to their peers in other developed countries, aren’t achieving their highest academic potential and are struggling on standardized tests. In December, the results from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment showed that American teenagers scored below average in math and science when compared with 65 other countries. But standardized tests reward rote learners and cannot measure creativity or innovation. Unlike much of the rest of the world, the U.S. is uniquely positioned to foster innovation and entrepreneurship, and that sets us up for success.”

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AT&T’s Hackathons Help Foster Digital Innovation

A well-executed hackathon is one of the most effective types of collaborative ideating that can be done today. Even better is when all that collective ideating leads to breakthrough, altruistic innovation — something that AT&T is all about. From AdWeek:

“For the last three years, the telecommunications company has calling on developers, marketers, designers and innovators to work together to create tech solutions for common problems. The participants usually have 24 hours to come up with an idea and prototype for each project, and a winner is awarded at each event. Most of the stops are themed around an issue, including the upcoming Houston, Texas event on Friday which will focus on apps to help the disabled.

AT&T has also worked with other organizations and brands, including a co-sponsored stop with Autism Speaks, which called on the participants to help create apps that would benefit the autism spectrum disorder community. The Houston event will be with Easter Seals of Houston.”

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The Man Who Turned Paper into Pixels: How Mathematician Claude Shannon Ignited the Information Age

It’s incredibly easy to take our digitally-driven culture for granted, even when we’re just upset that the internet is being slow. That, of course, says nothing about the amazing people throughout history who made it possible for us to complain about download speeds at all — people like Claude Shannon, a black jack wizard and mathematician who made it possible for the world to evolve from paper to pixels. From Brainpickings:

“The so-called Information Age we live in, like all major leaps in human achievement, isn’t a self-contained bubble that coalesced out of nothingness in a flash of genius but the cumulative product of incremental innovation stretching back centuries. It builds upon the work of multiple inventors, scientists, and thinkers, including Lady Ada Lovelace, celebrated as the world’s first computer programmer, Alan Turing, considered the godfather of modern computing, Paul Otlet, who built a proto-internet in the early twentieth century, and Vannevar Bush, who envisioned the web in 1945.

Among them was the American mathematician, engineer, and cryptographer Claude Shannon (April 30, 1916–February 24, 2001), who laid the foundation for the Information Age. According to British filmmaker Adam Westbrook — who gave us those fantastic video essays on the long game of creativity — Shannon is “the most important man you’ve probably never heard of” and his work impacted the modern world as profoundly as Einstein’s did.”

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