Some of my best ideas come from the most unusual places. Often it’s during a run around NYC or while I’m in the final resting pose in a yoga class. Typically, it’s a new reference point that gets me out of my familiar frame of mind and helps me look at something from a different angle. It’s almost as if that moment of shifted focus slows everything else down and allows me to surface combined ideas that might have seemed disconnected minutes earlier.
The principle that great ideas spawn from unusual recombinations isn’t a new one. For a long time people have pointed out that the best ideas are often born out of the collision of seemingly separate things. Cooking, for example, has exploded as a hotbed for this sort of recombining. Just one episode of Top Chef will open your eyes to a multitude of out-of-the-box, strangely mouth-watering concoctions. Even a stroll through a gourmet grocery store will expose you to odd, yet tasty, pairings, such as bacon-infused chocolate or cheese lined with edible ash.
The opportunities for these collisions only seem to increase in urban centers where there’s both high diversity (of people, industries, and ideas) and little space, making it more likely for people and ideas to meld.
In college I took a class called “Paris, Montreal, and New York” that spoke to this idea specifically by highlighting some of the literary geniuses and visionaries of the Beat Generation, such as Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Cohen, and the cities that helped shape them. These three men frequently traveled between these three global capitals of art, music and literature, and some of their best ideas emerged from these diverse cultural immersions and intersections.
All of this came to focus for me lately when I was reading Steven Johnson’s “Where Good Ideas Come From.” The thesis of the book, in essence, is that ideas and innovations stem from unusual recombinations of tangential environments and from a slow build of inputs. It’s not those “Eureka!” moments where great ideas emerge, it is an amalgamation of experiences that shed light on a new way of looking at things. In fact, Johnson often cites urban centers as major sources of new ideas because of the close proximity of diverse subcultures.
So what does this have to do with Percolate and content? Ideas often spark from unconventional permutations of inputs. This is where great ideas and innovations come from and this same rule applies to content. At Percolate, we believe that in order to be a good content creator, you have to be a good content consumer. To do that, we’re helping brands identify the diverse set of sources that make up their interest graphs. The point of this is to help them combine ideas to create new, highly-relevant content. That’s because like great innovations, great real-time content lives at the intersection of seemingly disparate ideas: In this case brand voice and cultural relevance. The best brands make that connection the most effectively, and to do that means paying attention to the world around them all the time.
Is your brand looking for new sources of inspiration? If so, please get in touch.
Before Nintendo, there was Spectravideo! Here they are, showing us they were a classier kind of computer company. We’ll take our gaming console, shaken not stirred, please.