The Millennial

Millennials are people born between 1977 and 2000. They are a distinctive group of people because they are living in a booming technology era. Johnson defines millennials as the “digital age mode” (pg.172). The brain of a millennial works differently because it has been exposed to various amounts of technology. These amounts of technology are readily available at their fingertips. They are exposed to a large amount of information and are able to find that information fast. Millennials are great at multi tasking, group collaborations and brainstorming. Since millennials are always around fast efficient technology, they to seek to work fast yet efficiently. In addition, millennials are open to new ideas and do not limit their thinking. I think the greatest thing about being a millennial is that we have access to networking. For example my favorite network is LinkedIn, a social network which makes it easier for people to network for jobs.

Millennial Quiz

Millennial-Infographic-Banner-2-730x410

The Millennial

Exaptation

“Apple’s approach, by contrast, is much messier and more chaotic at the beginning, but it avoids this chronic problem of good ideas being hollowed out as they progress through the development chain.” (171)

I found Apple’s chaotic approach to innovation very interesting because people were encouraged to think outside the box, and those ideas were embraced. However, I thought that there could be a side effect of this process, that being could the openness of Apple’s system also side track some of their employees? As in, I feel as though many of their employees could get side tracked with ideas that are simply not feasible at the time, not because their ideas impossible, but they include technology that doesn’t exist yet. Apple has been slowly but surely making their phones thinner and thinner, however, an employee who designs a paper thin phone, as genius and innovative as it is, while not be able to make that dream possible because no technology exists to make it real. Being Apple, they could invest billions into the R &D of said paper thin phone, but they still have other projects that need that money too, making this employee’s design, that may have taken him hundreds of hours, unable to be made.

 

Exaptation

Exaptation

This was an interesting word to learn for me because I had never heard of it before. When I looked up the definition it was defined as “a term used in evolutionary biology to describe a trait that has been co-opted for a use other than the one for which natural selection has built it” (Google Dictionary). I was curious to see the evolution of the archaeopteryx that was talked about in the chapter so I also looked up a picture to see how it had changed.

http://10e.devbio.com/article.php?ch=16&id=161

This article gives a good time line on how this creature evolved into what our modern day birds look like.

Exaptation

Evolution

Once again, chance and happy accidents are central to narrative: a random mutation lead to the evolution of feathers selected for warmth, and by chance those feathers turn out to be useful for flying, particularly after they’ve been modified to create an airfoil.

It is incredible to me how nature is. We start getting used to how we are and then with our nature we start changing and adapting. In the beginning we don’t get it, but then we realize that nature knows what it is doing. We may think that evolution may be for one reason, but nature is always one step ahead of us. It does not only change species for one reason, but because of what might come ahead too. For examples, these feathers that came to be for one reason and then it helped them fly in a certain way. 14565772169_4f3c33a00c_b

Evolution

Plate Tectonics and the Brain

Courtesy Piled Higher and Deeper

This video not only discusses the relationship between brain folding, diseases and intelligence, it also gives great examples of exaptation. It’s amazing to see the different fields that we can pull information from to better understand how the brain develops. Who would have thought math had anything to do with the way the brain is shaped? It also ties in nicely with previous discussions of surface area to volume ratios and how the human body employs wrinkles and folds in various organs brain, lungs, digestive tract, testes to fit them into small spaces and provide a greater surface for biological processes such as diffusion, absorption, gametogenesis and the processing of neural signals to occur.

Plate Tectonics and the Brain

The Essence of Exaptation

“A tool that helps you see in one context ends up helping you keep warm in another. That’s the essence of exaptation” – Johnson, p157

This quote came right after Johnson’s example of having a match to light up a dark room, which in turn helps you find a room with a fireplace, where the match can have a completely different use (lighting a fire). I thought this quote really captured what Johnson was trying to convey to his readers in this chapter because it gives a clear example of what exaptation is. Personally, I see exaptation occurring all the time in my life, even though before reading this chapter I did not know there was a word for it. Even small things such as learning information in my macroeconomics class that I can apply in my speech pathology courses, or even at the dinner table with my friends, exaptation is at work. I was able to take that information that I learned in economics and apply it to other contexts and broaden my knowledge even further.

The Essence of Exaptation

Twitter the Exaptation

“When it first emerged, Twitter was widely derided as a frivolous distraction that was mostly goof for telling your friends what you had for breakfast.”-Johnson (192)

When Twitter was dreamed up in 2006, the founders were not expecting the many uses for Twitter that it is used for now.  I find it interesting to see how the web platform evolved from just a place to write simple thoughts to one that fosters news such as political protests, provides customer support for large corporations, and acts as a place to bypass government censorship.  I would argue that, like the wings of birds from chapter 6, Twitter is an exaptation.  Wings are recognized as originally existing for the purpose of being a dinosaur wrist bone, which would provide flexibility.  Wings however, turned out to be used in other ways such as flying.  Twitter has many better uses than just letting your friends know your every thought.

Twitter the Exaptation

Apple’s Coffeehouse

“Apple’s development cycle looks more like a coffeehouse than an assembly line.”-Johnson (170)

As a marketing major I am not only interested in the way a good company builds consumer relationships with consumers, but also what makes their creative process so great.  I found Apple’s coffeehouse technique fascinating, as well as, useful.  I feel that one of the reasons why Apple is at the top of the game when it comes to computers and phones is because of this creative process.  Instead of using a more traditional approach and losing the creative vision along the line of what can and can’t be done, Apple makes sure each line of production has a say.  Apple takes group brainstorming to a whole new level as sales people and engineers of a product will sit down and talk about the one central creative vision.  This  makes me wonder what other companies use this type of coffeehouse approach.

 

Apple’s Coffeehouse

Coffeehouse Fortress

“If open and dense networks lead to more innovation, how can we explain apple, which on the spectrum of openness is far closer to Willy Wonka’s factory than it is to Wikipedia”(Johnson, 169).

We all know the scenario, we get our special whatever order at starbucks, and we look over and see a group of people with laptops and ipads talking about who knows what. It may seem annoying, but this is small scale “coffee” liquid business networks at work. So much in recent times can seem ot be tied with these kind of meetings. So what happens when a company closes it’s doors to the outside world like apple? Well as it turns out, there can be an internal “coffeehouse” thinking of good ideas. But it also takes fire and passion, when concepts come out, it is so futuristic and innovative, that by the time it comes out it is barely an upgrade. apple has mostly been able to avoid this and stay with teh adjacent possible. Which raises the question of why companies aren’t putting as much fire and passion to push the limit of the adjacent possible.

 

Coffeehouse Fortress

Liquid Networks

Cities, then, are environments that are ripe for exaptation, because they cultivate specialized skills and interests, and they create a liquid network where information can leak out of those subcultures, and influence their neighbors in surprising ways.  -Johnson 162

Are suburbs or more rural communities also suited for exaptation? I grew up in both Georgia and Delaware, two very rural and idle communities. I believe that we have liquid networks there as well, in the form of more personal relationships than people would have in a huge city. Though I have never lived in a bustling, such as NYC, I couldn’t imagine that its chaotic environment and its seemingly infinite number of residents could produce more exaptations than in a more personal and settled community.

Liquid Networks

The Coffeehouse Model of Creativity

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“Many of history’s great innovators managed to build a cross disciplinary coffeehouse environment within their own private work routines”

This is Nikola Tesla. He was an Serbian American scientist focused on the development of new technology for society. He was heavily involved in many different fields of science including physics, electrical and mechanical engineering. His interest in these different fields along with his futuristic ideas allowed for the creation of inventions that were beyond his time. By the late 1800’s Tesla went to pursue his ideas of wireless lighting and electricity. He also speculated the possibility of wireless communication, a technology used so often today. These hobbies and interests in these different fields proves as an example of how scientists can come up with great ideas by integrating concepts together.

The Coffeehouse Model of Creativity

Exaptation Through Social Media

Chapter 6 was all about exaptation, and how it can lead to new or unexpected innovation. While I was reading, I picked up on a section that discussed the media environment. This led me to begin thinking about the idea that everyone is an innovator. Every time we post a thought or status on Facebook, or any form of social media for that matter, we are publishing an idea. As people see that idea they may comment on it with their ideas, or share it with their friends. Their friends then do the same, and so on. You are left with a never ending cycle of of adapting ideas. A simple idea that we published has now caused other people to think differently about it.

 

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Exaptation Through Social Media

Apple’s Approach

In a professional world, we tend to steer away from chaos, for we see it as unproductive. But…

“Apple’s approach, by contrast, is messier and more chaotic at the beginning, but it avoids the chronic problem of good ideas being hollowed out as they progress through the development chain” (Johnson 171)

I understand this reasoning because more ideas are available at the start of the project, and yes it might be chaotic, but great ideas can bounce off of the many ideas that are flowing through a department in the beginning, messy stages. So many devices can be created in the beginning because the ideas are fresh, and open to exaptation.

Apple’s Approach

The Strength of Weak Ties

“Chance favors the connected mind.” -Johnson, pg 174

In this chapter, Johnson talks about how people like Darwin had a lot of hobbies and were interested in a wide range of fields, which helped lead them to have more good ideas since they had more information from broad subjects to draw on. And this stood out to me, because I feel that I also have a broad range of interests: chemistry and physics and music and writing and theater. And I really love finding connections between my varied interests, or even between classes that I’m taking. When I took physics in high school, I realized I could use skills I’d learned in calculus the year before in order to solve problems about velocity and acceleration. It’s things like that which remind me of one of the reasons I love learning, because I can find connections like that and see how everything I’ve learned so far can fit together.

The Strength of Weak Ties

How to encourage innovation?

“The most creative individuals in Reuf’s survey consistently had broad social networks that extended outside their organization and involved people from diverse fields of expertise… Diverse, horizontal social networks, in Reuf’s analysis, were three times more innovative than uniform, vertical networks. In groups united by shared values and long-term familiarity, conformity and convention tended to dampen any potential creative sparks” -Johnson 166

I think that most people would agree with this quote (even though it was already proven in a scientific study). Johnson alluded to this idea earlier when he suggested that the more people collaborate, the more innovative they are. But he also suggested an example where offices tried to encourage more talking between employees by having an “open” workspace, where people weren’t separated by desk barriers and behind computer screens all day. But he said that this design did not work because people preferred privacy where they could work. So if bringing people and their diverse ideas and ways of thinking together is the best way to move forward, how do we promote it? How do we “force” people to become innovative without actually “forcing” them to?

I think so far, Google has the best example. Like Johnson said, Google gives its employees mandatory time every day to work on their own project. But I think there are ways to improve upon this idea, and I think especially for companies that rely on new ideas to stay prosperous and afloat, it is a must to encourage more innovation. I think one way to do this is definitely to give employees time to work on their own projects like Google. But I think to take it a step further, employees should have to make their projects public at all times to other employees and mandatory for them to respond to a piece of positive and negative criticism once  a week. This will encourage more human interaction and connections and force the more “diverse” and “horizontal” networks that Johnson refers to.

How to encourage innovation?

Origin of Tetrapods

tetrapod_evo

Darwin’s theories repetitively appear throughout this book and in this chapter it mentioned his “Origins of Species”. It prompted me to research more about the origins of tetrapods. Johnson mentioned how a fish evolved to now how feet to be able to walk on land. According to this website I found, it all began with ray-finned fish that slowly evolved into bony fish such as Eusthenopteron. These fish eventually continued evolving until they developed forelimbs and hindlimbs with fingers.

Organisms evolve based on their need for survival. Harsh weather can prompt an organism to use a body part, even if it wasn’t designed for that specific reason, in order to survive. The example Johnson gave was the birds feathers. The feathers were made for warmth but then they became useful for flying.

Its interesting to see how organisms keep evolving based on the environmental pressures. It makes me wonder if humans are done evolving or are we going to look different in the 22nd century? Or are we going to be extinct? I wonder.

Website Consulted:

http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evograms_04

Origin of Tetrapods

Exploring New Possibilities

“If mutation and error and serendipity unlock new doors in the biosphere’s adjacent possible, exaptations help us explore the new possibilities that lurk behind those doors” (Johnson, 156).

Exaptation is going beyond the adjacent possible. It is using outside knowledge and applying it to something else. This idea of sharing ideas seems very beneficial, and I think many people can agree with Johnson’s claims here. Everyday we witness the sharing of ideas in the classroom. Students raise their hands, answer questions and bounce ideas off of their teacher and peers. Exaptation is especially noticeable in our class. All of us in Biotechnology exhibit signs of exploration and the desire to discover new possibilities through the questions we submit on Moodle and the ideas we talk about during our discussions. 

Exploring New Possibilities

Macrocosms

“Exaptation. An organism develops a trait optimized for a specific use, but then the trait gets hijacked for a completely different function” (Johnson 154).

Beyond the world of genetics I believe this word still has application in our daily lives. When exaptation occurs in the natural world, a trait created by genetic change, ends up having a purpose that was not the driving force behind the mutation. Like the feathers on prehistoric dinosaurs that led to flight, we often find second or third uses for goods in our lives. Creativity seems to be a cliche word used to describe someone but the human race in itself is exceptional at exapting uses beyond the intended purpose. I am interested in this reoccurring of biological processes repeating themselves in macrocosms in the world.

Macrocosms

Is Music Exaptation?

In Chapter Six, “Exaptation”, exptation is described as a trait that was developed for one purpose, but is eventually used for another unrelated purpose. When I first read this, I thought of how this has affected humans. The appendix was used as an asset to the digestive system, but is not considered obsolete; one does not need it to survive. However the appendix, to me, was not a solid example because while it was designed for a purpose that it not longer performs, it did not adopt another purpose.

Because I am not well versed in biology, I could not think of another scientific example. But when I started to read about how the vacuum tube was created “to make signals louder”, and was eventually used in the Fender guitar amp in the fifties, I started to consider how music could be exaptation. (Johnson, 157)

If exaptation is the development of a trait from one purpose to another, then isn’t a shared chord between songs simply exaptated? Are Sweet Home Alabama, Werewolves of London, and All Summer Long just exaptations of each other? Or, to take it a step further, isn’t every song an exaptation because it is just a rearrangement of notes that another song has used?

Is Music Exaptation?