Sunday, July 10, 2011

Imagine Cup - Day Two


Bill Cosby tells an amusing story about dropping a favorite hat in a public bathroom, into the porcelain receptacle. He fished it out with his comb, washed it a half dozen times and hand-dried it until it was wearable again.  He went to such great lengths because he had a lot of "time-in" on the hat, he had worn it through thick-and-thin.  He didn't have much time-in on the comb, so he tossed that away.  

Watching the students present their projects, I was taken by how much energy and preparation they made to create their applications and their presentations.  It was evident how many had put the "time-in" to develop their idea into something that works, solves a problems and has an interesting story.

Malcolm Gladwell described the "rule of 10,000" in his study of successful "outliers," those who had achieved huge success.  The legends of technology, like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Scott McNeeley and others, had put in 10,000 or more hours of work, learning and experimenting, before they started their companies.  They had a lot of "time-in" on their ideas.

One of the teams I saw had an interesting variation on the "walkathon," tracking how far users walked and how much CO-2 they saved, via a phone app.  When they reached a threshold, a sponsor would donate funds to the charity of their choice.  Fund a cause and save the planet--a nice mash-up.

Thinking about this pedometer-on-a-phone, I recalled a colleague who set a target on his pocket pedometer to walk 10,000 steps a day.  After years of walking, he is still fit and trim in his 60's.  The thing about walking is that it's easy to get started, it takes a step at a time, and the goal is achievable if you put the time in.  That sound like a reasonable approach for incubating an idea into a something that changes the world.

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