Maker Con Day 2 – Lunch Interlude

Technology

During lunch we were entertained by Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz of Eepy Bird, AKA the Coke and Mentos guys. They presented what was called the 1/10/100 method to unlock creativity, with the notion that everyone is creative, it just takes hammering away at an idea over and over again to reach the point where you can unleash it on the world. Their message was don’t try to be brilliant – do it one step at a time, by the time you reach 100 you have something that appears brilliant. I heard some developers discussing this as it relates to their personal projects, and realizing they were trying to be brilliant right off the bat – it just doesn’t work that way.

Experiment 1 is that initial idea that catches your interest, something simple. This can be thought of as “the raw idea”. After the Coke and Mentos video went viral and they were looking for their next idea, they went to Office Max and played with everything. They were first intrigued by post-its adhered together in a zig-zag pattern, and they tried to make it look like a slinky. It took them three days to try rotating it 90 degrees to actually get it to work.

In the move from 1 to 10: focus on variation, how many different ways could we twist that idea? Focus on quantity over quality. Just as they did with different types of nozzles for the coke bottles – play with diameter of holes, number of holes. Another example: paper airplanes – how many variations can you make? With their sticky notes, they discovered they could create loops of sticky notes to create wheels, but not very strong – rotate post-its 90 degrees again before adhering to itself and it will be rigid enough to roll.

Experiment 10 can be thought of as a prototype to test in the field, i.e. “the rough sketch”. You can combine previous variations to create a working idea to further develop, much like an author will take an initial idea and explore it through a short story. Here’s another idea I heard several times during the day: There’s nothing like a deadline to motivate you to finish.

For their post-it notes ideas: what colors should we use? Found out different color pads fall at different speeds. So they used a strip of tape and placed it over a row of pads, which they call “synchronizing tape”. They demonstrated how this can be used to create a cascade of post-its.

You might think you are done – but if you stop there, it may not become what it has the potential to be, something unforgettable – this is beginning not end, which leads to Experiment 100. For instance, they next tried diet coke/mentos rocket car – took many many tries, finally reached 221 ft with close to hundred bottles. Go extreme with your idea, so instead of making a single paper airplane launcher, scale it up – they demonstrated a 32 airplane launcher.

Experiment 100 should be something unforgettable – astound yourselves. A comparison was made to Cirque du Solie, taking a well-established idea but on a grand scale.

All in all, a though provoking presentation. The main points as mentioned already were “Don’t try to be brilliant – work your way to that point” and “Deadlines are a great motivator.” They will of course be presenting at Maker Faire as well.

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